Thursday, February 7, 2013

And by boarding, you mean boarding?

My brother-in-law has lived his entire life as a resident of New York City his entire time, a product of the cake-eating Upper West Side.  He's a decorated film director, producer, and executive who gives the world some pretty funny stuff.  What really endears him to me is his perspective, perspective he gained from living his entire life in NYC (except those 4 years he attende the USC film school).  Recently we had a conversation about the current political climate and he made a small remark that has really with me, "I live in a city of 8 million people and every day my beliefs are openly challanged."  No place else is that more true, than execpt maybe on Twitter.  It's good to have one's beliefs challanged because if forces you to have an open mind, learn about different beliefs, and politely explain yours.

Where am I going with this on a CBJ blog?  I'm talking about Brandon Dubinsky's boarding penalty on Rob Scuderi and the subsequent discipline.  Twitter was booming in the Blue Jacket's hashtag that Dubinsky's hit wasn't a boarding call.  That Scuderi put himself in that situation.  Or, that since Dubinsky didn't mean to board him that the boarding call didn't apply.  The refs got the boarding call right, albeit there was no intent from Dubinsky to purposely board Scuderi.  The fan reaction was that Scuderi put himself in the situation that it wasn't Dubinsky's fault.  I feel compelled to challange this belief.  First, let's see what the NHL rule book says.

41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently in the boards. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize the contact. However, in determining wheter such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.

Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious “icing” or “off-side” play which results in that player hitting or impacting the boards is “boarding” and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as “charging.

41.5 Game Misconduct Penalty - When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed.

The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize the contact.  Let's look at some photos to see if Dubinsky met that criteria.

From this photo we see Scuderi is establishing body position to shield Dubinsky from the puck.  Scuderi's numbers are to Dubinsky and Dubinsky is skating towards his numbers.  They put a STOP sign above the name plate on youth hockey players jerseys the first year of checking so you are aware of the danger of hitting a guy in the numbers.  This is the point where Dubinsky needs to realize the opposing player is in a vulnerable position.  Scuderi is going to continue along the board and try to use the goal as a pick to shed he fore checking BDub.  Perhaps Dubinsky has misjudged the puck or his speed and is trying to pin Scuderi before he can swing the net.  Dubinsky is heading for the check mark in the verizon logo.

This is the frame after Dubinsky has stuck out his hand, where enablers will say Dubinsky tried to avoid contact.  What I see here is is an elbow and arm in the middle of an opposing players back while Dubinsky's momentum carries him on a path straight to the end boards.  Dubinsky has not altered his path or angle.  This is where any hockey player not trying to hurt another guy goes, "Oh Sh!t, I'm going to hurt this guy."

This is the photo from today's Puck Daddy Blog about the resulting fine.  At this point Dubinsky is trying to roll off of Scuderi, presumably because Dubinsky realizes that Scuderi leaves on a stretcher if he doesn't roll.  But Dubinsky's thigh, arm, and shoulder are on the same path as they have been since crossing the bottom of the faceoff dot.  It's the 10 feet before this impact where Dubinsky failed to ensure his opponent would not be in a defenseless position.  At this point, this is already a 5 minute major for boarding. 

Grainy images provided by Abraham Zapruder

It's the contact from image two that causes Scuderi to go head first into the boards, not necessarily the contact here.  To the casual fan, Dubinsky has avoided contact at the boards, hence no boarding call is deserved.  WRONG.  Scuderi's numbers were to Dubinsky the entire pursuit and the result is Scuderi's face is smashed into the boards.  Dubinsky never altered his path in what I judged to be a poorly timed pinch.  This is a five minute major penalty with zero INTENT to injure.  A violent game played at high speed requires discretion.  Discretion that was not exercised by a focused and hustling Dubinsky.  Dubinsky ran a red light hustling for the puck and plowed into Scuderi.  "Scuderi turned at the last minute" says Stillwell from A league of their own.  I mean because you have to draw 5 minute boarding majors in for any chance to beat the Blue Jackets, right?  I mean Scuderi has to expect that he's going to get blasted in the numbers  through the corner at high speed, right?  When Colton Gillies got boarded in the Dallas game no one said he put himself in that position did they?  This was the right call by the officials and an unfortunate, but avoidable, penalty by Dubinsky.  Fans don't like to hear that a player who chose a poor attack angle will have to give up a puck battle in lieu of putting an opponent in a halo brace.  Dubinsky by no means meant to board or hurt Scuderi, that is apparent. 

I feel the $10k fine might be a little excessive, but in the hearing room with Brendan Janneyhan, things are perceived differently.  The only reason I can see the fine was so high was because Dubinsky didn't alter his path as Scuderi's numbers were facing him during the entire puck pursuit.  I'm certainly not happy about the mark on my report card if I'm Dubinsky.

Am I the only blogger that calls him Janneyhan?  Maybe someone should challange my belief that stealing your center's wife is not ok...

1 comment:

  1. Watching it happen full speed in the arena it was hard to tell if he had the capability to slow down. After I watched the replay I noticed it was obvious he had a small window to change his course. It's unfortunate, but just happy there was no suspension attached.


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