Tuesday, September 23, 2008


With the third day of camp wrapped in Moncton and an impressive win for the Rookies, 4-1 over the University of Moncton Blue Eagles, it's time to keep this blog series rolling. It's 18 days and counting until the puck drops on the 2008-2009 season for the Islanders and now in this installment of the NHL's Standard of Play blog series I'm going to cover the penalties that don't necessarily need a stick: Holding and Interference.

These two categories of penalties are very different from each other in the sense that most fans know what a Holding penalty looks like:

Thanks to the Ottawa 67's Blog for this pic

In this example you have the typical bear hug. Now the buzz phrase which I brought up in my Preview to this series that will be heard most regarding a Holding penalty is "free hand". A player is no longer allowed to use his free hand to steer or manipulate an opponent in such a way that the opponent can't move in the desired direction (how's that for paraphrasing out of the rulebook, LOL). Essentially, players are no longer allowed to pin their opponent against the boards, hold or twist any part of the upper body with the free hand causing the opponent to lose control of the puck or the ability to shoot or pass the puck in the desired direction.

Holding, much like like Hooking which I spoke about in the previous post can be very recognizable. What may not be so recognizable are the subtle tugs of the jersey let's say that may cause the opponent to bobble just enough so the offending player can close the gap between the attacking player and himself. That kind of movement will not be easy to spot with the naked eye if you're a fan in the stands, even at ice level. As a fan of the game you have to realize that because you are stationary and the game is moving past you that things will seem to move faster. Officials who are on the ice and in the thick of the play have the ability to slow down their surroundings and this allows them to see something you may not. This brings me to one of the most difficult penalties to call in traffic: Interference.

We all know what Goalie Interference looks like:

Photo courtesy of Sportsnet.ca

I couldn't help but bring this up. What happened in the Rangers vs. Devils Playoff Series was unprecedented in the history of the NHL. Never has a rule been drawn up and implemented mid-stream, let alone in the midst of the Playoffs. What Sean Avery did in this picture reshaped what Goalie Interference was in a single game and this rule has filtered down even to the USA Hockey level where it is filed under Unsportsmanlike Conduct or Goaltender Interference.

Beyond the mere distraction aspect of the rule, therein also lies the physical contact. This especially applies to an attacking player when the contact is avoidable. In other words, if the attacking player has ample opportunity to not hit the goalie and does so, a penalty must be called. Where there may not be penalty for goalie contact is on a disallowed goal. If a player impedes the goaltender in such a way that the goaltender can't defend his position and the puck is shot into the net, it is a disallowed goal. Nevertheless, let's not forget the other types of Interference that involves the skaters that you might see in a game.

There are two other types of Interference that I will cover: Offensive and Defensive. Most likely you are more familiar with the Defensive type of Interference more so than the Offensive. The best example I can provide for Defensive Interference is when an attacking player dumps the puck past the defenseman who is backing into his own zone. If the defenseman stops and changes direction to impede the attacking player's progress, this is a situation where a penalty will be called. In the same breath, if the defenseman stays within his established skating lane and keeps his feet moving and checks the attacking player into the boards, this is ruled as a good defensive play. Remember that the main difference lies within the skating lane of the defenseman. Once he changes his skating lane he's asking for a penalty.

Offensive Interference is not a penalty you will often see called. However, with the tighter enforcement, it is on the books and is mandated by the league to be strictly enforced. The only way I can describe it is by providing you a basketball reference. This is a picture of a moving pick (a legal play in basketball):

Thanks to eHow.com for posting this pic

Though this is a legal play in basketball, it is not in ice hockey at any level. Yet again, if a player impedes the progress of his opponent it is a penalty. In this case the puck is not involved with the situation that results in a penalty. Like I stated before, this is not a situation that you will often see called due to the fast pace of the game. But every so often, you'll catch it be able to recognize the situation. Hopefully the referee does too.

Well there you have it, only one more installment of the NHL Standard of Play to go. Next up on Wednesday, I've got Slashing and Tripping on tap. These are two penalties where you must ask yourself this fundamental question: "What the heck was that stick doing there?" Until next time...

For Questions, Comments and Bonehead Calls you can e-mail me at DougD84@optonline.net


7th Woman said...

I'm going to have to bookmark these for reference during the games!

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