Thursday, February 20, 2014

I wouldn’t have called interference (Puzzle No. 3,315)

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): hard.  I got off to a roaring start with the 3, 3, 3, 3 and most of the other outside answers, and then found myself challenged by much of the rest and struggling with the top in particular.  

Hozom’s comment: “Hobgoblins,” in which Hot and Trazom add their tuppence on a blog [snow]storm having to do with how consistent themed puzzles have to be.  I think the title of the post hints at Hot and Trazom’s view.
[the puzzle note is up here this week because of an animated GIF I wanted to keep below the fold.] 

The video clip below the fold went viral, and I of course looked at this with a different eye from the million or so other people who clicked the link.  Whoever first posted on this tagged it as “butt check” when it’s really a hip check and not butt-ending, which I don’t remember ever having to call in my career (I’ve had spearing and kneeing, though).

One of the officials though (it was either Kelly Sutherland of the NHL or the good German ref Lars Brueggemann) blew this down as interference.  By the letter of the IIHF rule, this is interference, which is defined as deliberately impeding the movement of a player not in possession of the puck.

Now the goalie clearly took out the opponent on his way to the puck, but notice he had possession of the puck first.  While he no longer has control, he still is counted as having possession.  I think he has the right to keep an opponent away from the puck.  If that was interference, then why wouldn’t it be interference when two players are jostling at each other as they skate towards a loose puck in the corner, or if a player controlling the puck on his stick pushing a player who’s trying to take the puck away?

If the goalie had dumped the puck off to a defenseman and then took out the forechecker, then that would have been a classic case of interference.  In this case, I think it was a call that was just too good to pass up.  We don’t see goalies taking someone out in open ice very often, and this is as beautiful a hip-check as you’ll ever see.  Perhaps the referee was thinking he would show how clearly he understood the rule and how consistently he could apply it even in an unusual situation.

Why call this out in a crossword blog?  Because one of the things I was taught in my second year of officiating was that trying to apply a 100 percent consistent book rule standard would ruin the flow of the game.  Rules are more than just suggestions, but they have to be applied with the wisdom and perspective.  Otherwise we could simply program computers to do all the work of hockey referees and crossword constructors.

Slovak goalie Jan Laco throws one of the most perfect
 hip checks you’ll ever see, putting Russia’s
Alexei Tereshenko into the boards.
But, alas, two minutes for interference.

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