Hockey Things That Don't Make Sense
Didn't know you can't intentionally head a hockey puck into the net. Learned that Wednesday night during the Memorial Cup when Devante Smith-Pelly of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors executed that rather slick maneuver against the Owen Sound Attack, and had then had the goal disallowed.
Basically, the rule book says any deliberate motion using a body part to score is illegal. You have to use your stick, unless it's by accident. So a puck can carom off your head into the net - we saw that happen with Mikhail Grabovski of the Leafs during the regular season - but you can't head it intentionally past the goaltender.
My question would be, why? I can see why you don't want players kicking at the puck in the crease, or swatting it into the net with their hands.
But heading it soccer-style? How could that possibly be either illegal or detrimental to the game?
Doesn't make sense. These rules made sense to somebody at one point or another, and then they just live forever.
In a more general, philosophical sense, it continues to baffle the mind how suspensions in hockey often seem to bear no relation to the damage done to the victim. Punishment is designed so as to not be unduly harsh, rather than to offer some concept of fairness and justice to the aggrieved.
We saw this years ago when Todd Bertuzzi ended Steve Moore's career, and then, after a suspension, resumed playing and getting paid, while Moore could not. That would be the most extreme case.
This year in the NHL, San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton came out of the penalty box in a game against St. Louis Nov. 4th and nailed David Perron of the Blues with a nasty, blindside head shot. Thornton got a two-game suspension. Perron didn't play the rest of the season.
Where's the proportionality between Thornton's punishment and Perron's pain?
Then you have the Joey Hishon injury at the 2011 Mastercard Memorial Cup last weekend. The Owen Sound centre was crushed at centre ice by an elbow from Kootenay Ice defenceman Brayden McNabb and left stunned and bloodied on the ice.
McNabb received a one-game suspension. He'll be on the ice for Kootenay tonight in a sudden-death tiebreaker against Owen Sound. Hishon, however, won't play, and is still recovering from concussion-like symptoms related to the nasty hit. According to Attack head coach Mark Reeds, Hishon right now can do little more than sit in a darkened hotel room. Making Hishon's absence even worse is the news that Owen Sound captain Garrett Wilson won't be available for the rest of the tournament after a controversial hit by St. Mike's forward Chris DeSousa.
How, exactly, is Hishon-McNabb situation fair? Games are assigned extra value by hockey administrators when it comes to assigning supplemental discipline. But the games missed by the victim don't seem to be assigned that extra value. So you get this kind of competitive imbalance and inherent unfairness. Nobody seems to think MacNabb is a dirty player or that he intended to hurt Hishon. But if he had, surely it's clear at this point it would have been a very worthwhile strategy.
There's no easy answer here. Simply saying the perp has to sit out as long as the victim doesn't necessarily make sense. But neither does the current philosophy that reigns supreme throughout the sport, one that seems to provide ample motivation for players to injure opponents knowing the tradeoff of discipline versus injury will almost always work in their favour.
Just one of those things in hockey that doesn't make sense. . .