It’s getting to be that time of year when the growing importance of stretch-drive games will lead Don Cherry to gripe about his biggest pet peeve.
The puck over-the-glass penalty drives Grapes crazy. We know because he complains about it constantly in the playoffs.
The delay of game penalty, caused when a defender in his own end flips the puck over the glass as he’s attempting to clear the zone, came into play after the lockout in 2005-06.
Critics of the minor penalty say it unfairly punishes a player who had no ill-intent. Cherry is always quick to point out the example of Buffalo’s Brian Campbell’s errant clearing attempt in the 2006 playoffs, which led to a penalty; which led to a Carolina power play goal; which was a key turning point in that series.
“He didn’t mean to put the puck over the glass,” Grapes has said time and again. “He was just trying to clear the zone. Why penalize him?”
Because that’s the rule, Don, and all the players know it. You never see them complain about it. You might see them make a case for the puck getting deflected over, but other than that, they know it’s automatic.
Do you think when a player tries to lift an opponent’s stick and inadvertently carves his face that he meant to do it? He was just trying to create a turnover.
Do you think there’s intent when a player’s stick is inadvertently stepped on and an opponent falls to the ice? Why would he want to trip him?
Do you think a team meant to have an extra skater on the ice with the goalie still in the net? Did the coach really want too many men on the ice? You’ve been down that road before, haven’t you Don?
So why are you making excuses for guys clearing the puck over the glass? We all know they didn’t mean to do it, but they did it nonetheless.
And don’t believe for a second a faceoff in the offender’s zone – without a chance to change lines – is a simple alternative. Because then you’d see a lot of defensemen opting for that result in a desperate situation.
How about leaving it to the referee’s discretion? Not a chance. How often does it look obvious that a scrambling defender it trying to give away a free puck?
Besides, they don’t leave other infractions of “intent” up to the official. You trip him, you’re gone. You hook him, you’re gone. You slash him, you’re gone. Too many men on the ice, you’re gone.
Puck over the glass, you’re gone. Keep the rule status quo.
And pick on something else, Grapes.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
From now until the trade deadline (Feb. 26) The Hockey News is having a subscription sale. Click HERE to get $10 off our regular subscription price.