I’ll Take Dangerous Infractions for $400, Alex

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Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulstewart22

Let’s play a little “Jeopardy” here: You’ve selected a video Daily Double under the category “Dangerous Hockey Infractions.” Are you ready? Remember to present your answer in the form of a question.

OK, here’s the clue: “In last night’s game between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, the Bruins were on a power play when Boston forward Brad Marchand pursued New York’s Derick Brassard toward the boards in a race for a loose puck.

Marchand committed this dangerous infraction when he kicked out Brassard’s skate from behind while using an arm to pull Brassard backwards and off-balance.”

GIF: another angle of Marchand/Brassard pic.twitter.com/dVwhq7o65w

— Steph (@myregularface) January 16, 2015

If you responded “What is slew-footing?” you are absolutely correct. Now, this was a rather easy question (hence why it was placed in the one of the initial lower-value amounts of our Jeopardy game board), so I hope you doubled your make-pretend money by showing some guts and wagering the full amount. It was a gimme of a question.

Marchand has a past history of similar infractions. As a matter of fact, prior to last season (2013-14) when the National Hockey League put out its tutorial video series on infractions that are and are not worthy of supplemental discipline, they used a Marchard slew-foot on Matt Niskanen as an example of a supplemental-discipline worthy infraction (go to about the 2:10 mark of the video):

Marchand was fined but not suspended for the slew foot on Niskanen, but I suspect he’ll get a suspension this time around. Due to the players’ dangerous proximity to the boards, Marchand’s slew foot on Brassard was even worse than the one that justifiably got Dallas’ Ryan Garbutt suspended for three games just a few weeks ago.

This is as open-and-shut of a case as slew footing gets. Of course, the ever-reliable NESN Ministry of Misinformation has a different interpretation.

Recently, I had my say about my feelings toward the embarrassment to hockey that is Jack Edwards and NESN broadcasts in general. I really didn’t want to go there again. I made my views crystal clear, and I didn’t see a need to elaborate further. But come on, folks! “Does this look like a slew foot to you, Jack?” asks Andy Brickley, pretending to ponder the play. “I’m gonna say no.”

Well, of course you’re gonna to say no. If Marchand pulled out a machete and hacked off Brassard’s leg as they approached the boards, you’d conclude it was justifiable pursuit of the puck.

Here’s a wacky suggestion: Between the two of them, perhaps Brickley and Edwards should actually sit down and read the rules. If this wasn’t a slew foot, then what pray tell is?

When I wrote my previous blog calling out Edwards for his nonsense, I received a slew (no pun intended) of questions pertaining to my full-disclosure admission that I left NESN on bad terms after working as a studio analyst.

The short answer is this: While working as a studio analyst for them, I was expected to give a slant to things that I was not comfortable giving.

As I recently told the new KHL president, my loyalty is to the game. I have no sacred cows, no agenda of friends to protect, and I don’t care one iota what people think. I care what I think is right and my threshold of what’s right is much higher than anyone else you’d hire.

Not everyone appreciates blunt honesty. It is easily misinterpreted for being contrary or confrontational for its own sake. When it is honesty about past events, it is easily misinterpreted as being unable to let things go.

That is not the case with me. I am simply passing along the benefit of my own experiences behind the scenes in many different aspects of our sport: on the ice, off the ice, the administrative side, the internal politics, etc. I am soon to be 62 years old and have no butts to kiss or agendas to advance.

Right before NESN fired me, Bruins general manager Mike O’Connell said to me, “You could have been one of us, Paul. You could have been a Bruin.”

Well, gee Mike, I thought I was hired to give the benefit of my analysis and experience as a longtime NHL referee and former player. Since I was apparently hired as a means for my bosses to trumpet, “See, the straightforward ex-ref said the Bruins were screwed on this call and that call and, well, pretty much every call,” being genuinely straightforward wasn’t part of the plan.

The final straw was a penalty shot in a Montreal game. Referee Kerry Fraser made the correct call — which did not go Boston’s way — based on the GMs making rule changes during the winter meeting. I knew the new ruling interpretation, which was not properly conveyed to the public, and defended Fraser. I paid the price with my job.

That’s fine. I wasn’t NESN’s cup of tea and they weren’t mine.

Years ago, I got into it with Jack Edwards once in the press box at the old Garden when he was, two seats down from me, spouting off about the refs and rooting for the Bruins long before he was the Bruins announcer. Nate Greenberg was sitting nearby and looked a bit horrified when I told Edwards to shut up and stop cheering from the press box, especially dripping his crap on the refs.

It’s a policy across the leagues that we all follow — except for this guy and his partner.

As for Brickley, with his attitude and comments toward me, I know what he says and how he feels. He once told me at a charity softball game that I shouldn’t be playing because I wasn’t a Bruin. Now, I thought the event was about supporting a worthy cause, not about strict enforcement of whether every participant wore a Bruins sweater in the NHL.

Given that I am a Bostonian and spent 1,031 games in the NHL between my refereeing and playing careers, I thought I was a qualified participant. It’s OK. though. I never liked softball that much, anyway. I prefer hardball.

In fairness and disregarding his contempt for me, Brickley usually does a pretty good job with the color commentary. He would be better, however, if he and his partner followed a piece of advice Fred Cusick gave me: “Tell the people what they are seeing, base your call and opinions on facts and the rules of the game to back up your case. You can be for a team but it’s better if you are for the game.”

************ 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 ECAC.

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials. Stewart also maintains 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.

In addition to his blogs for HockeyBuzz every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Stewart writes a column every Wednesday for the Huffington Post.

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