December 17, 2008
Ross McKeon mentioned it -- OK, "dishonorable mentioned" it -- in last night's Three Stars, and here's the Jason Blake spin-o-rama shootout goal against New Jersey Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-2 victory (for cell phone camera coverage, head here):
Blake obviously isn't the first player to go all Denis Savard in the skills competition, as we've seen Pierre Marc-Bouchard twirl for a goal against the San Jose Sharks and Ryan Shannon's infamous spin-o-bstruction on Nikolai Khabibulin. Each time this happens, it causes controversy and a trip to the NHL Rule Book; since shootout rules defer to penalty shot rules, the spin-o-rama is covered under Rule 25.2:
The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360° turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion.
Ross's contention, after viewing the goal, was that Blake's shot was illegal "if you go by the letter of the law." He wrote: "The puck must always be moving forward during a shootout attempt, and that move is impossible to pull off without stopping the puck's forward progress for even a split second."
Naturally, Leafs fans disagree, calling the goal "amazing" for a player who hasn't had a hell of a lot of "amazing" happen for him in Toronto. Puck Daddy reader Wayne checked in this morning with a preventive strike against Blake spin-o-rama criticism:
"Now, if you want to nit-pick the shoot-out, I'm sure on more than one occasion a player has pulled the puck back away from the goal while making a deke or pulled it back into a shooting position after carrying it in front while skating in ... but they've always let that go."
Did Blake have continuous motion? It all depends on what you mean by "motion," because his skates didn't -- but his body did. But his goal and others like it beg the question: If the shootout is a gimmick whose sole purpose is creating TV-friendly highlights and serving visceral cheese to the assembled masses -- along with artificially determining the winner of a hockey game -- why regulate and dampen creativity at all?
It's already a sideshow to the real game; why even pretend to treat it with similar reverence? So, with that, two Pass or Fails this morning:
1. Pass or Fail: Jason Blake's shootout spin-o-rama was, by the letter of the law, a legal move?
2. Pass or Fail: The NHL should change its shootout laws to allow more creativity from shooters and goalies, no matter if they violate the current penalty shot rules?