Friday, April 02, 2010

You Make the Call

The NHL is allegedly cracking down (again) on head shots.  Well, does this action by the Atlanta Thrashers' Colby Armstrong qualify?

The new rule against head-hunting emphasizes a prohibition on "“lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact.” Under a strict reading of that language, the rule might not apply here. Mathieu Perreault and Armstrong meet, more or less, face to face (or as this screen capture from the Comcast Sports Net feed suggests, elbow to face). No "lateral, back-pressure, or blindside" occurrence in evidence there.

But actively thrusting an elbow at the head of an opponent is covered under other rules. Rule 46.1 defines elbowing as "the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury."

Further, Rule 46.3 gives the referee the discretion to call a major penalty on "any player or goalkeeper who uses his elbow to foul an opponent. A major penalty must be imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent."

Rule 46.4 allows for further penalty: "The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player or goalkeeper attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by elbowing."

Whether Armstrong could be cited under rules for the maximum treatment here under Rule 46.4 is doubtful (a lot of Caps fans would say "yes," Thrasher fans would disagree). But it is a no brainer that Rule 46.1 applies, and certainly given the enthusiastic manner in which Armstrong applied his elbow to the jaw of Perreault, the referee's discretion to call a major penalty cannot be discounted... if you're really in the business of trying to stop head shots.

However, no penalty was called on the play. And, Armstrong is not a "repeat offender." Despite a reputation for sharp elbows, he has no record (at least in any search we did) of suspension by the league.

Will Armstrong miss time over this? We're betting on "no." Why?  Well, it's in what Armstrong had to say about the play...

“I just banged a forecheck on him. I had a pretty good line on him. He’s a pretty good little shifty player and I think he kind of bailed out there at the end. I saw the replay. If anything I just tried to get a piece of him. I didn’t mean to get my arms up in his kitchen like that. It just happened so fast. I just tried to get a piece of him. I talked to the ref afterward and he said he ducked out of the way and fell backward (emphasis added).”

Pereault ducking out of the way is not the action to which a penalty can be applied.  The issue is Armstrong and his elbow.  All Perreault's actions did was to enable him to avoid what might have been serious injury as a result of that elbow.  If the league decides not to give Armstrong a vacation, you can decide for yourself if the league is serious about eliminating head shots on the ice or just writing rules for the sake of appearing to do something about the problem.


Anonymous said...

The no-call sucked and if Campbell does nothing, he is even a bigger idiot, if that's possible.

Anonymous said...

Since it's a Caps player on the receiving end of the hit there will be no dicipline... Armstrong is an Angel afterall. Had Ovie been the initiator of the the elbow, there would be a suspension.

Anonymous said...

It is clear the ref blew that call. The question is whether the NHL will continue its hypocritical approach to enforcing clear rules. As a Caps fan, my conspiracy theory bets no suspension; the Canadians that run the league don't like the Caps. As a hockey fan, this is clearly the type of hit the league claims it is trying to get rid of. We will see if they are telling us the truth or not.

I Rock the Red said...

Armstrong is the one who said Perreault was falling.

Just read his lips.

daved said...

"i tried to get a piece of him..."

what the hell?! that right there tells me there was intent. perreault ducks and colby says, "oh no you don't" *bam* forearm to the head. bullshit.

Hooks Orpik said...

To be honest, I thought it was reminiscent of Ovechkin on Gonchar : the hit-ee tries to get out of the way, but the hitter has already launched himself to connect.

There’s no doubt on the end result: should have been a penalty for elbowing, possibly even a major, because Armstrong’s elbow got up and struck a player in the face. That's cut and dry.

But I don’t think Armstrong intended to lead with it. Had Perreault had his head down and didn’t take evasive action, I think Armstrong pops him with the shoulder (and Perreault might have had serious injury). It looks a lot worse if you watch the slow-mo replays over and over, the game’s played at a blink of an eye, Armstrong made the decision, Perreault saw it coming and tried to avoid but it was too late.

Caps should have definitely came out of the sequence with the man advantage, but I don’t think this hit ought to merit a suspension. If Army went in only with the elbow (and Perreault never avoided) it’s a different story. But that’s not what happened.

Red Army Soldier #1337 said...

I was in section 103 (just to the left, as you look from the camera) It looks a lot worse full speed.

If you ever wanted to know what it feels/sounds like to have over 17,000 people decide you are unworthy of any respect.. make a bad call in the Phone-booth. the initial hit got some boos, the no-call got more. then cheers for forcing Armstrong to account for his crime, then more boos as they both were sent to the box.

At this point, there was the first replay of the hit, and suddenly EVERYONE knew what had happened. the fans started to let the refs know what they thought, but it was noisy, disorganized, chaos. you could sorta hear it, but not that well.

Cue the organist. Suddenly everyone was organized, and truly, that was when the refs realized they were unloved. the most surreal 3 - 5 minutes of my life.

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...

Another advertisement for the repeal of the instigator rule, if I ever saw one. Until that happens this sort of crap will continue.

Armstrong threw an elbow to Perrault's head and got away with it. Sha-Mo stepped up only barely and let him know that stuff won't stand and look what happend.

The Caps should have hads a man advatage for 5 minutes, instead thanks to another game of poor officiating they played 4 on 4 for two minutes.

Total BS for officiating, if I did my job like so many of these on ice officials do, I'd be unemployed.

Bruce said...

Armstrong will sit for 2 games, per Gets what he deserves, as far as I am concerned.

Bart said...

A suspension is dealt:

Steven said...

I wonder if the fact the such a clear foul was missed on the ice played a part in the league's decision to impose supplemental discpline? What gets me about the whole thing is when you watch the replay, you can see an official, a referee, not a linesman, in the background, looking right at the play as it happened, and makes no call. I don't keep up on who the referees are assigned to any given game, so I don't know who that was, but I've got to think the league is talking over with him his on-ice decision to let play continue after the hit, waiting for Morrisonn to respond before sending both players off to the box. 2 games is about right