A few nights ago I was watching some NHL highlights. When the Detroit Red Wings were visiting the Anaheim Ducks I saw something I have never seen before. After a scramble around the Detroit net, Derek Grant of the Ducks finally knocked the puck behind Detroits Jimmy Howard. While this was happening Dylan Larkin appeared to cover up the goal camera in the net. Now my initial thought was that this is really funny and that this is a great little move to try an obstruct the off-ice officials in making a correct call. It was ruled a goal.
Fast forward to today and watching the video again, one of the best NHL videos came to mind. The famous Sean Avery and Marty Brodeur battle. For those who do not remember, Sean Avery of the Rangers purposely stood in front of Devils goaltender, Martin Brodeur, and waived his stick and gloves in his face to impede his vision. Here’s the play below.
There was no NHL rule at the time that prohibited Avery to do this. Quickly after though, the Avery Rule came into effect. It states:
“An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender’s face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play.”
Now I can understand this rule, because although I thought it was funny and I hated Marty and the Devils, it wasn’t a good look. BUT if you say that what Avery did was bush league, then what Dylan Larkin did was worse. After checking the NHL rulebook, I didn’t really see anything specifically wrong with his play. I guess you could give him a misconduct for obstruction, but again, this play doesn’t really fall under anything specific that I have seen involving officials. Although I like playing referee on my coach, I’m not one, so I could be 100% wrong about this not already being a rule or the rule that this play falls under.
Here is my ruling after taking some time to think about Larkin’s play. I think you need to make this a penalty and an automatic goal. If a player is purposely impeding the officials vision whether that be on-ice or off-ice, I would without a doubt make that an unsportsmanlike and hit that player with a fine. What Dylan Larkin did was on purpose and had obvious intention. Getting the correct call is tough enough. We don’t need players now covering up cameras to make it even harder. I’m sure there is a split decision out there about my personal ruling, but keep in mind, Sean Avery didn’t break any official rule. He simply used his hands and stick to screen a goalie. Although much different, I don’t see how the Avery Rule can come into play with screening a goaltender and not a Larkin Rule when dealing with intentional interference with any game official.
P.S. That’s not me holding the gavel. Although I wish it was.