Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

A Distinct Kick
Clobber Samson

" I think I've put the team first, ahead of my own backside". Dave Nonis, ex-GM, Vancouver Canucks What exactly is "a distinct kicking motion"? Best example I can think of is when Butch Cassidy ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), in getting the "rules" straight, drives his right cowboy boot into the dangling darling dewdropsof his unsuspecting combatant Harvey. I suspect that ex-Canuck GM Dave Nonis would wince now when seeing that scene on the screen, cause basically he got the ole hard leather to the soft fleshybuttock by Frankie "What Have Ya Done For Me Lately?" Aquilini and the backroom boys...and, after much reflection and listening to opinions here, I say, despite what Grapes and others opine, deservedly so. Just don't bring back Burkie! Please!! I'd rather have John Ferguson Jr...! The Bostonian Blow-Hard is responsible for much of this mess in the first place! Go East to Hog Town and take little Davie with ya! But I digress. More to the point, the Senators got a swift kick to the pants and out of the NHL Play-offs by the Pittsburgh Penquins. The ole Sweeperoo. Four straight. Do not pass "Go"; do not collect any money. Go Directly to Golf. And we await to see who will be picking up their blood and getting out of town, for good. I'm sure there are a lot of theories going on in Bytown and elsewhere why the Sens dropped like stones around Christmas and never recovered. Trades, a coaching change, the benching of Ivan the Terrible didn't resolve the malaise. Nothing worked. It is almost a mirror-image of 2006-07 when the Sens were awful off the top, got chastised, and then went on the Stanley Cup Final. This year, they had the best record out of the gate in NHL history, then stopped winning, and couldn't find their game...the puck, the net, their own players...yet had no trouble finding the penalty box at crucial times by taking dumb dumb penalties. (They must have been watching old tapes of Todd Bertuzzi!) Sure, they had injuries going into the play-offs: Alfie, Fish, and Kelly. That didn't help, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Defensive lapses - pinches that didn't work, give-aways - were only part of the story. I can still hear the clang off the post in Game 1 by Stillman. If that puck goes in, it would have been 2-1 going into the Third...maybe that was a TSN-turning point? Well, not really a concerted comeback effort in Game 2, led by the lesser lights, gave one hope but that was quickly dashed in Game 3. Even with Alfie on one leg the troops couldn't ..wouldn't...rally. Thru the whole mess and forthe reasons, look no further than last night's game. Some suggest that Pittsburgh at times got away with too many men on the ice. Nothing could be more truthful. Six Penguins plus Jason Space Cadet. Many times it was 7 against 4 cause Dany Heatless contributed dudley-squat. And such was the case all series long. Connect the I-Pods...The Dynamic Dunces have a lot of music to face. They'll shrug and say it was just not meant to be, yadda yadda. The same old tired excuses. Remember last year's Final against the Ducks - they were both invisible but highly visible. Did they learn anything? Obviously not. You make your name in the play-offs...just ask A-Rod. Or even Joe Thornton...another perennial no-show who finally got the monkey off his back the other night by scoring the winning goal and possibly salvaging his team's season. But did he ever stop trying? Look completely out of place? Hand the puck to the opposition time and time again? I don't think so. I think it is evident there are two encampments within the Sens'locker room. I think it is obvious that Space Cadet and Heatless are friends of the Razor's Edge, while Phillips and others like "Gerbs", Alfie, the perfect captain,is more neutral than Switzerland, and Waned Redden is probably just tired of it all and hoping to be put outof his misery. How dysfunctional were they? As one pundit put it, if Brittany Spears was a hockey team she would call herself the Ottawa Senators. There will be blood! Someone will pay the price. Yes, the Sens made the play-offs but looked more like sparring partners for the Pens -who got an easy ride of it and were never on the ropes. How bad was Ottawa? Even Hossa got points! I realize there are some of you who feel the Refs were inconsistent, to the point of wondering if Commissioner Gary God had pre-determined than Sid the Kid was going to the Finals... Which brings us to the disallowed goal scored by the Senators to make it 2-2...and the infamous "distinct kicking motion" rule. Here it is from the NHL bible itself, Section 10: Game Flow: 78.4 - Scoring a Goal
"If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate, or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. The player who deflected the puck shall be credited with the goal."

Section 10: Game Flow: 78.5 - Disallowed Goals - Subsections (i) and (ii)
"Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons:
(i) When the puck has been directed, batted, or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.
(ii) When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion"

The distinction is 'deflected' versus 'directed'. Gary Galley said at the time of review that it was obvious Vermette's "intention" was to kick the puck onto his stick, not into the net, that it was the stick of the Pens' D-man that interfered with that action. Jim Houston said "I don't know...the more I see the replay, the more I think they're going to disallow it...and how do you determine 'intent'.." Excellent points by both...ergo: that was the dilemma for The War Room. A strict interpretation of the rules... was correctly ruled on - no goal. And yet...Gary Galley has a point, doesn't he? Do you actually think Vermette's "intent" was to direct the puck into the net? It was a "distinct kicking motion" BUT it was not directed into the net! Akin to Space Cadet's description of the Mark Bell hit on Alfie - "legal but dirty". Embrace the contradiction. Solution? The NHL should review the rule over the summer. Set up a committee overseen by Sean Avery. He's always creative about interpreting and encouraging changes to therules!! Or maybe the Rutuu brothers with Jordan Tutoo and Jonathan Cheechoo....then it could be called the Rutuu Tutoo Cheechoo Rule. Or maybe just ask Harvey? Maybe there shouldn't be ANY rules when usingblades. In the end, the end was at play. There is no way the Senators were going to come back andwin this series. The Fat Lady warmed-up, sat down briefly, powdered her face, stood up again, and wailed and belted it out into the night. As for Bryan Murray, keep your feet in a distinct kicking motion.

Click here for all articles by Clobber Samson.

Clobber Samson is a highly opinionated sports commentator, especially when it comes to Vancouver "Canucks," of the National Hockey League. Expect no balance in his columns. This is good.

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