Skategate? What happened to TooManyMenGate?

I always seem to come late to these "controversies." First there was the whole FraserGate thing (Fraser doesn't call high sticking on Gretzky in game 6 of the semis in 1993, eventually scores GWG) which I only found out about 16 years after the fact. I guess I'm getting better, because this one I noticed the next day.

Per the link and video in the previous post, this is all about the video review of the Daniel Sedin kicked-in non-goal. I doubt there's anyone who reads this blog who didn't experience the whole thing in real time. The CBC version of it is in the last post. Google Reader has coughed up some interesting reactions to the incident, but first, here's mine:

  1. Oh, that went in off his skate.
  2. God, I hope it looks like he kicked it in.
  3. Well, the replay shows him kind of flick his skate up at the end there. That's not part of stopping. That's a little kick.
    I hope they see it that way.
  4. I have no idea which way this will go.
    I didn't think that Parse non-goal, where it went in off his knee, should have been disallowed, but I saw the kicking motion there too (even though it didn't go off his skate).
  5. When was that? I can't even remember now.
    Wow, it's taking a long time.
  6. That means they are debating it. It's close.
    The call is no goal. Yay!

Then I forgot all about it.

So now here's some reactions from around the league. First up, the tin-foil hat society:

NHL appears to change its rules to disallow Daniel Sedin goal - The White Towel

Henrik Sedin called it one of the worst calls he's ever seen, and when a Sedin feels the need to speak out, you tend to listen. "It was a very, extremely bad call," he added. To make it, National Hockey League vice-president Mike Murphy seemed to alter the rulebook and when that happens you can't help but take notice.

He didn't alter the rule book, but we'll get to that in a minute.

[...] The replay officials in Toronto overturned the on-ice call and appeared to change the rules to do it. When the actual rule change happened is unclear.

This is just being purposefully obtuse. There has been no rule change. As far as I can tell, they're referring to a DVD that went out some time during the season to clarify the rule. I'm pretty sure actual rule changes have to be vetted and voted on by the league (GMs) and the players' union. So we can stop with the "secret rule change" b.s..

Murphy in post-game interview with Ron MacLean on CBC seemed to acknowledge there was "no distinct kicking motion." "We felt it was the skate, not in a distinct kicking motion, but in a kicking motion, that made it move back the other way," he said. "It wasn't a deflection, it wasn't a re-direct, it was a kick."

So the tin-foil hat interpretation is that Murphy is getting rid of the whole "distinct" standard. Sorry, no. He's not. He just can't speak, or is illiterate, or doesn't really know what the word "distinct" means (p.s. none of these possibilities is really a good thing for someone in his position; but it doesn't mean the rule has changed, which it hasn't, because it can't). Distinct means "distinguishable to the eye." In other words, YOU CAN SEE IT. Murphy seems to think distinct means something like "really super obvious." No, it just means you can see it. And we know he thinks you can see it, because he said he saw it. QED

Murphy went on to say that a DVD was sent out to each team to make "an addendum to the rule."

If he doesn't understand what distinct means, I don't think he can possibly understand what addendum means, and how it might be different (legally) than, say, clarification or explanation. He also says that the DVD is not meant "to circumvent the rule." Okay?

[...] "To me it looked like he twisted his toe and got a little more push on the puck and got it moving back the other direction."

That's how I saw it too.

More troubling for the Canucks, is that Murphy is on record saying it would be nice to see the Kings win a Stanley Cup. "I think it would be so neat to see the Kings succeed and win a Stanley Cup because it would do just a tremendous amount for the Southern California market and the Kings franchise. "They have been hard working and very close in a number of years, so that would be nice to see." Hard to see these as acceptable comments for anyone working in the league office.

Well, he also coached the Canucks for a couple of years (as an assistant). Don't people know that subscribing to conspiracy theories to explain your team's problems is pathetic? Now maybe if Murphy had said what he said in response to the CBC guys last night, you'd have something. As in:

CBC: Mike Murphy, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the thinking behind waiving off the Sedin goal.

Murphy: I think it would be so neat to see the Kings succeed and win a Stanley Cup because it would do just a tremendous amount for the Southern California market and the Kings franchise. They have been hard working and very close in a number of years, so that would be nice to see.

Alas, this did not occur.

Meanwhile, Google Reader gives me Puck Daddy's reaction, which is slightly different than mine:

Canucks' NHL conspiracy theory, and the case for kicked goals - Puck Daddy - NHL Blog - Yahoo! Sports

1. Did Sedin and the Canucks get jobbed? Totally. The only reason many felt it was a borderline call when it went to replay is because we know how the War Room treats these situations. By the letter of the law, it's legal.

Well, by the letter of the law, it all comes down to what the war room sees as a "distinct kicking motion." The war room isn't trying to see into the soul of a Sedin. They're just going off the tape. Puck Daddy reads Murphy's garbled explanation as trying to read Sedin's intent. Murphy doesn't do himself any favors here, because he actually starts talking about what Sedin "knew", but really he should just shut up and let me explain it. The intent IS the distinct kicking motion. You don't make a distinct kicking motion without INTENDING to unless you've got neurological problems. Since there is no Restless Leg Syndrome Exception in the rule book, all we have to go on is what is observable, which presumably is Daddy's point, and with which I totally agree.

Now, Bob McKenzie:

To be honest, I would like to "propel" the NHL's rule for disallowing kicked-in goals into outer space, never to be seen again. But unlike a lot of Vancouver Canucks fans, I don't believe anyone is out to get them. The Canucks are not a victim of a grand conspiracy so much as a proclivity to take too many penalties at a time when their penalty killing, and perhaps their goaltending, isn't where it needs to be. [...] The fact that the man who made the no-goal decision last night on Daniel Sedin in Los Angeles is Mike Murphy, the NHL's director of hockey operations who once played and coached in Los Angeles, has no bearing on anything unless you happen to wear a tin-foil hat. You may not like Murphy's decision, and I don't, but where he once played or coached has no bearing on anything because the man has integrity and cares about doing the right thing because he's a professional. And if someone wants to draw a line from last night's no-goal to a linesman deciding to call a too many men on the ice penalty in overtime in Game 2 to Auger-gate, well, better to just to move to Dealey Plaza in Dallas with all the other world-class conspiracy theorists. That said, this rule has to go, mostly because it's too hard to understand, too hard to explain and just too darn confusing. McKenzie: Giving the boot to the kicked-in-goal debates

I have argued before that the NHL doesn't understand what's in its own rule book. I don't think the rule has to be thrown out, as McKenzie says, but it (and everything else in the book) needs to be re-written for clarity and simplicity. They might actually consider hiring an actual writer or editor to look at it. Since it involves words and what they mean and don't mean.

These kicked-in goal debates are the bane of our existence on the TSN panel. No matter who is on the panel, we almost never see it the same way. [...] [T]he whole "distinct kicking motion" could be as important as how it was "propelled" into the net. But if it's a pass out from behind the net – as it was last night on the Sedin no-goal – you have to ask yourself, how does a puck traveling north end up going south into the net? There are only two possibilities. One, the puck is shot with such force from behind the net that it strikes the blade of a stationary player and effectively bounces into the goal. [...] Or two, the player is moving towards the net, as Sedin was, and the puck strikes his skate. Because he's in motion toward the net when the puck hits his skate, he "propels" it into the net. Based on the NHL rule wording, it's no goal. McKenzie: Giving the boot to the kicked-in-goal debates

Not without a distinct kicking motion though.

That's why when I saw Sedin going to the net and the puck coming out from behind the net I automatically assumed "no goal." But that whole explanation is a difficult concept to understand and a difficult concept to explain, and trust me when I tell you if you have 30 seconds to make your case on the TSN panel, it's going to come out as mostly babble. McKenzie: Giving the boot to the kicked-in-goal debates

I think the use of the word "propel" is unfortunate and probably came out of the MS Word thesaurus.  They mean, "a distinct kicking motion which directs the puck into the net." Either way, the verb can be ignored. The point is, if there is an observable kicking motion (which by definition applies a force to the puck, propelling/directing/sending/moving/encouraging the puck into the net), there is no goal. If you can see the kicking motion, it's no goal. If you can interpret what the goal-scorer did as a kicking motion, no goal. Not "if in his heart he had intent to kick." Not "does the puck pick up additional velocity relative to prior the event." Just: did you see him make any kind of kicking motion?

I saw it.

I can see how someone might have seen it differently, or decided it was too close to call. (Hey, it would be nice if the rule book weighed in on what to do in this situation. Like, for instance: in the event that it's too close to call, the call on the ice stands.)

For years now, NHL on TSN host James Duthie has opined that any puck off a skate, kicked or not, should be a good goal so long as the skate blade remains on the ice (in order to promote safety and not having players dangerously flashing their blades in a heavy traffic area). I've always resisted on that safety issue, but now, I cry Uncle. Make 'em all count, unless the blade comes off the ice and use video review to figure that out. There'll still be some where it's tough to tell and there will still be some controversies but no more and probably less than those questionable "was the puck knocked in with a high stick debates." McKenzie: Giving the boot to the kicked-in-goal debates

I like this idea, I think. But I like it because it's verifiable. Is the skate off the ice, or not? Just make it automatic. Skate leaves the ice, no goal. Skate is not on the ice, no goal. Skate leaves the ice as a result of the motion that directs the puck into the net (as opposed to a continuation of a stride)...oh **** it, no matter happens, we're screwed. There will always be something. "He was just skating by! His skate left the ice because of his stride, not because of the kick!" I guess you could make it the skate has to remain on the ice until the puck is over the line or something. It has to be verifiable in order for it to be reviewable. At least until we at Quisp Labs finish work on the much-anticipated Soul Cam. At which point all such plays will be reviewable only by me.