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Should Goalie Interference be Reviewable in NHL?

Should Goalie Interference be Reviewable in NHL?
This power play goal by Henrik Sedin was waved off because of "incidental contact" with the goalie on Sunday, prompting calls from some for video review to include goalie interference. (InGoal photo by Clint Trahan)

This power play goal by Henrik Sedin was waved off because of “incidental contact” with the goalie on Sunday, prompting calls from some for video review to include goalie interference. (InGoal photo by Clint Trahan)

Goaltender interference was back in the spotlight on Sunday night, with a disallowed goal prompting calls from the Vancouver Canucks to make such decisions subject to video review. Even Dallas Stars’ goalie Kari Lehtonen, who benefited from this decision, suggested it was time to make it reviewable.

The apparent power play goal by Henrik Sedin was waved off immediately for what the referee in the corner ruled was “incidental contact” with Lehtonen by twin brother Daniel. InGoal photographer Clint Trahan was in the opposite corner, and caught the entire sequence (see images below), but even Lehtonen was surprised by the call after what appeared to be minimal – if any – contact with Daniel Sedin.

“It’s one of those things I thought they would not call it, but when you see it maybe there is something but not too much,” Lehtonen said after the game. “It happens so fast and I’ve said it before, I wish they would maybe use some video replay or something just to make them right.”

Similar sentiments came from the Canucks, especially head coach John Tortorella.

“You go to football. In the last two minutes they want to make sure it’s a score, it’s a proper call. I think we need to get that call right,” Tortorella said. “It’s a big play in the game. I think we need to get the call right. If you can review that, I think you could get the call right. But it’s un-reviewable. All the crap we review, and they don’t review an important thing like that. I just think that needs to change.”

The problem with making goaltender interference reviewable may be interpreting the rules that govern it. By the letter of the law, as outlined below, there might be a lot more goals disallowed if every one was reviewed to see whether contact – by player or stick – with any part of the goalie prevented them from making the save.

Looking at the sequence with the Sedins, you might even argue Daniel prevented Lehtonen from executing a left to right butterfly push because of his position relative to the left pad Lehtonen would need to lift to initiate such a movement. But should that be enough to take away a goal? Few Sunday seemed to think so.

We’ve included a copy of the rule below the photo gallery. Have a look, and a read, and let us know what you think about making goalie interference something the NHL can review with video:

 

Rule 69 – Interference on the Goalkeeper

69.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper – This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

For purposes of this rule, “contact,” whether incidental or otherwise, shall mean any contact that is made between or among a goalkeeper and attacking player(s), whether by means of a stick or any part of the body.

The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.

61.2 Penalty – In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). In all cases where the infraction being imposed is to the attacking player for hindering the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in his goal crease, the penalty to be assessed is for goalkeeper interference.

In exercising his judgment, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact.

69.3 Contact Inside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. In all such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a minor penalty for goalkeeper interference.

If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.

69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.

The NHL rule also refers to Table 18, which outlines a lot of specific situations of goaltender interference:

Table 18 – Rule 69 – Interference on the Goalkeeper
Interference on the Goalkeeper Situations
Situation
Result
1. THE GOALKEEPER IS IN THE GOAL CREASE.
A. An attacking player is standing in the goal crease when the puck enters the crease then crosses the goal line. In no way does he affect the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal. Goal is allowed. This is a good goal.
B. An attacking player makes incidental contact with the goalkeeper, however, no goal is scored on the play.
Play continues, no whistle.
C. An attacking player makes incidental contact with the goalkeeper at the same time a goal is scored. Goal is disallowed. The official in his judgment may call a Minor penalty on the attacking player. The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper.”
D. An attacking player makes other than incidental contact with the goalkeeper, however, no goal is scored on the play. A Minor penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline.
E. An attacking player makes other than incidental contact with the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored. Goal is disallowed, and a Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline.
2. THE GOALKEEPER IS OUT OF THE GOAL CREASE.
A. An attacking player makes incidental contact with the goalkeeper, however, no goal is scored on the play.
Play continues, no whistle.
B.  An attacking player makes incidental contact with the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored.
Goal is allowed.
C.  An attacking player makes other than incidental contact with the goalkeeper, however, no goal is scored on the play. A Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline.
D.  An attacking player makes other than incidental contact with the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored. A Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline and the goal is disallowed.
3.  A PLAYER PUSHES, SHOVES, OR FOULS ANOTHER PLAYER INTO THE GOALKEEPER, WHO IS IN OR OUT OF THE CREASE.
A.  The attacking player, after having made a reasonable effort to avoid contact, makes contact with the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored.
Goal is allowed.
B. The contact by the attacking player with the goalkeeper is other than incidental and the attacking player, in the judgment of the Referee, did not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. However, no goal is scored on the play. A Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline.
C. The contact by the attacking player with the goalkeeper is other than incidental and the attacking player, in the judgment of the Referee, did not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact at the time a goal is scored. A Minor and/or Major penalty may be called at the discretion of the Referee plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline and the goal is disallowed.
D.  An attacking player, through his actions pushes, shoves or fouls a defending player into the goalkeeper at the time a goal is scored. A penalty may be called at the discretion of the Referee for the actions of the attacking player and the goal is disallowed.

4.  BATTLE FOR LOOSE PUCK WITH THE GOALKEEPER WHILE THE GOALKEEPER IS IN OR OUT OF THE GOAL CREASE.

A. An attacking player makes incidental contact with the goalkeeper while both are attempting to play a loose puck at the time a goal is scored.
Goal is allowed.
B. An attacking player makes other than incidental contact with the goalkeeper while both are attempting to play a loose puck at the time a goal is scored. A Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline and the goal is disallowed.

5. SCREENING SITUATIONS.

A.  An attacking player skates in front of the goalkeeper at the top of the goal crease, at the same time a goal is being scored. The attacking player remains in motion and does not maintain a significant position in the crease in front of the goalkeeper. Goal is allowed. This is a good goal.
B.  An attacking player skates in front of the goalkeeper, well inside the crease, at the same time a goal is being scored. The attacking player remains in motion and, in the judgment of the Referee, maintains a significant position in the crease impairing the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal. Goal is disallowed. The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper.”
C.  An attacking player skates in front of the goalkeeper, outside the crease, at the same time a goal is being scored. The attacking player remains in motion and impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal.
Goal is allowed.
D.  An attacking player plants himself within the goal crease, as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored. Goal is disallowed. The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper.”
E.  An attacking player plants himself on the crease line or outside the goal crease, as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored.
Goal is allowed.

6.  CROWDING THE GOALKEEPER.

A.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease and the attacking player vacates the position immediately. No goal is scored on the play.
Play continues, no whistle.
B.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease and the attacking player does not vacate the position, however, no goal is scored on the play. A possible penalty depends on the Referee’s judgment as to the degree of contact and degree of resistance with the attacking player and whether the goalkeeper was truly trying to establish a position. Minor penalty. This player runs the risk of “bad things” happening by being in the crease. In this example it is a minor penalty.
C.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player in the crease to establish position and the attacking player vacates the position immediately at the time a goal is scored. Even though the attacking player vacates his position immediately, the contact impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal. Goal is disallowed. The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper.”
D.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease and the attacking player refuses to give ground at the time a goal is scored. Goal is disallowed. A Minor penalty is not assessed (loss of goal only). The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper.”
E.  A goalkeeper deliberately initiates contact with an attacking player other than to establish position in the crease, or otherwise acts to make unnecessary contact with the attacking player. Minor penalty to the goalkeeper (slashing, etc.).
F.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease by using excessive force or acting in a manner which would otherwise warrant a penalty, and the attacking player refuses to give ground at the time a goal is scored. Coincidental Minors (goalkeeper/attacking player) [In this situation, the Referee would emphatically display to players and the fans that he was calling penalties before the puck entered the net, and thus the play was dead at the time the infractions occurred and thus stated there is no goal.]
G.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease by using excessive force or acting in a manner which would otherwise warrant a penalty, and the attacking player vacates the crease at the time a goal is scored. A Minor penalty to the goalkeeper and the goal is disallowed. This is an example where the attacking player has prevented the goalkeeper from doing his job by being in the crease. The announcement should be, “No goal due to interference with the goalkeeper (plus the announcement of the goalkeeper’s penalty).”
H.  A goalkeeper initiates contact with an attacking player to establish position in the crease by using excessive force or acting in a manner which would otherwise warrant a penalty and the attacking player vacates the crease, but no goal is scored. Minor penalty to goalkeeper.

7. CONTACT WITH THE GOALKEEPER.

A.  An attacking player initiates contact with the goalkeeper, inside or outside the goal crease, in a fashion that would otherwise warrant a penalty (e.g. “runs” the goalkeeper). Appropriate penalty (Minor and/or Major and a Game Misconduct) and subject to additional sanctions as appropriate, pursuant to Rule 33A – Supplementary Discipline.
B.  An attacking player is in the crease and makes every effort to vacate the crease and the goalkeeper initiates contact to embellish and draw a penalty. No goal is scored on the play. This is a dive and a Minor penalty to the goalkeeper (diving).
C.  A defensive player directs the puck into his own net while an attacking player initiates contact with the goalkeeper. Goal is disallowed and a Minor and/or Major penalty, plus assessment of whatever other penalties may be appropriate up to and including Supplementary Discipline to the attacking player.
D.  A defensive player directs the puck into his own net while an attacking player is standing in the goal crease. The attacking player does not affect the goalkeeper’s ability to make the save.
Goal is allowed.

 

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.

9 Comments

  1. Warren Shapiro

    I feel that the video review will all the calls the referee will get a better view. Yes it might make the game longer but it will more accurate. Also it wake up the players too keep out of the crease. This review is plus for the goaltenders. It will also stop all the clipping in (sorry I’m using a NFL term) that’s what I see.

  2. Paul Ipolito

    That first image would make me think twice about ever being a goalie.

  3. Brian

    Should be a good goal, he is not impeding or obstrucing the goalie in any way on this play. If the shot had been to his glove side requiring him to move to his left then I can see interference but the fact it goes to the other side…….good goal, bad call by the ref but adding this to video replay is wrong. It’s still going to be a judgement call by someone, let the refs on the ice make this call. They aren’t going to always get it right, if you review this then you have to start reviewing other penalties and it’s getting ridiculous.

  4. BeninLondon

    If i remember right from seeing the overhead view didn’t the top of Lehtonen’s pad get caught up on Daniel Sedins leg? That is what made Sedin fall and that could be viewed by some as interfering with Lehtonen’s ability to make the save. The fact that even after slow motion replays and still frame shots there is still a question to whether his ability to make the save was impeded should be at least a little bit of proof that video replay won’t solve everything and it will still boil down to the call on the ice.

    If they hold it to the NFL standard then there will have to be indisputable evidence that the call on the ice should be overturned. In this case I don’t know if there is indisputable evidence. Would he have made the save if there wasn’t contact? From what Lehtonen said it sounds like he wouldn’t have so this is firmly in the grey area like the bulk of calls/reviews would probably end up

  5. Steve

    For the play in question it looks like the left leg gets clipped on the goalie’s left pad as he is trying to slide to the right. Hence the tripping of the player over the pad so it meets the 69.3 criteria and was correctly called.
    I do think a challenge flag type system similar to NFL would be a cool option and have the Toronto office make the call. There could be a set of key calls that could be challenged if overruled you lose a timeout though.

  6. joe Feeney

    It is time to go back to the old crease rule, offensive players should not be allowed in unless the puck is already there. This would not be a call necessary if it was not being overly complicated by rule changes!the crease is for the goalies only! Forwards stay out and there is not problem. In this case the forward was clearly in the crease, under the rule play would have stopped and face off outside. The newer rules could apply with the deface off going to the defensive zone of the team committing the infraction, further pushing the teams to enforce the rule, and hopefully cutting down the number of times it would have to be called.

    As for this under the present rule, he clearly did interfere with the goalie, and it should have been no goal, from him hitting the pad, and falling over. Again, the old rule was clearer, simpler and the goal would not have been in controversy.

  7. Ralph Zobjeck

    First off let me say that I am a goalie and I feel if a goalie wants to vacate his crease to play the puck behind the goal line, he should be fair game and treated as any other player on the ice playing the puck. That being said I feel the crease is sacred ground and an opposing player should not be allowed to enter it AT ALL. If there is a dispute it should be reviewable.

    • Richard St-Onge

      My thoughts exactly! Old ruling applied. If the player’s skates are ON the goal line or within the crease by any fraction, there is ground for an interference call. On the other hand, if the goalie comes out ON the goal line or ventures beyond by any fraction, he becomes part of the open ice and is therefore accountable for interference himself. Basically, he becomes the 6th man.

  8. don gilbert

    A goal is scored and it’s not reviewable? It was a goal, a significant part of the game. Any time a goal is scored or disallowed the opportunity to be reviewed should be available. Pavel Datsyuk had an amazing goal called back in Montreal on Tuesday. There is no way they will call that back come playoffs. The contact was initiated by Corey Price. The goalies will take advantage of this rule and it will get ugly. Video review will provide integrity to the rule. All goal or disallowed goals must be reviewable in this day and age.