In the second period of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ game at the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, Matt Calvert had a goal taken off the board for what the NHL deemed was a “distinct kicking motion” that sent the puck into the net.
This is allegedly quite an impressive feat by Calvert, considering he had nearly no control over his body as it was being dropped to the ice by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on defense for the Oilers; either that or it’s a creative interpretation of an admittedly vague rule by the NHL. Watch:
Calvert clearly sees the puck deflect off of Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. He attempts to play it with his stick, only to have the Nuge knock him off balance. The puck deflects in off his right skate, and the referee counted it as a goal.
Here’s the NHL rule on goals scored from pucks off of skates:
“A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident.”
At 17:33 of the second period in the Blue Jackets/Oilers game, video review determined that Columbus forward Matt Calvert used his skate to kick the puck into the net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No Goal Columbus.
“Used his skate” would indicate intent, which frankly makes Calvert some kind of ninja to have the wherewithal to “kick” the puck while falling to the ice.
But the rule itself doesn’t mandate “intent” to have a goal overturned; just a “distinct kicking motion”, which is typically associated with a pendulum-like movement of the leg, which Calvert clearly did not have either.
If anything, his skate shoves the puck into the goal as he attempts to plant his skate and regain his balance; if you want to classify that as a “kick”, and the NHL seems to do that here, then what we have is a problem with the rule itself.
Think of goalie interference:
“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.”
Hence, if a defender shoves you into his own goaltender and the puck goes in, then it’s a goal.
Seeing as how the facet of the “kicking” rule is undefined, shouldn’t the default argument be that Calvert accidentally “kicked” the puck into the net because he was being “pushed, shoved or fouled” by Nugent-Hopkins? Hence, the puck goes in because of that defensive contact? Hence, accidental or otherwise, it should be a goal for the Blue Jackets, in keeping with the standard used for goalie interference?
Or maybe Calvert’s a nefarious ninja. There’s always that.
The Blue Jackets lost the game, 6-4 including an empty netter, because of course they did.