Rules, Rules Everywhere but Not a Drop to Drink (or Never Stopped to Think)

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Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulstewart22

I have a question for the NHL rule makers: When you make a new rule, do you ever stop to think of all the possible complications it could create? You could be opening a can of worms.

Several people have asked me why I so adamantly detest the new tripping rules that were put in place for the 2014-15 season.

I hate it because it takes something that was always a good hockey play and turns it into an automatic penalty for the sake of taking discretion away from the League’s referees. I also hate it because it could create some unintended consequences.

Here is one such scenario: A defending player goes down to block a shot, clearly leaving his feet in front of a D-man who is about to shoot the puck on a PP with the goalie pulled in a one-goal game. The shot hits the advancing, checking forward’s shins and bounces to center. With me so far?

At the same time, the momentum of the sprawling player blocking the shot in a valiant effort coupled with the shooter’s forward stride as he follows through on the shot, cause a collision such that the D man goes down. Another teammate of the penalty killing team scoots to center and grabs the puck on an apparent breakaway toward an open net, sealing a 3-1 win. Or does he?

According to the rules, the defending player left his feet to play the puck, albeit a shot block, and the opposing player goes down as his feet get taken out from underneath him.

Is that a trip under the new rule or a traditional hockey play? I don’t know, but I would think by the letter of the law, this is a (chintzy) automatic penalty.

Can of worms, isn’t it?

I bet the powers-that-be in the NHL never sat and tried to quite think through all the possible scenarios before they inked in this new rule that they took from other Hockey Rule books.

Prediction: We will now get to see a whole bunch of hockey playing flamingos as they all stay on their feet except for that one foot that they don’t want broken and they pick up when they go out to check the shooter.

Tiptoeing through the tulips… and they call this hockey?

************ Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Today, Stewart is an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials, while also maintaining a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.

Stewart is currently working with a co-author on an autobiography.This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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