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Officiating Memos & News Archives

Thursday August 28, 2014
OHL It was announced at the OHL Officiating Training Camp that referee Sean Reid is the 2013-14 recipient of “The Bodie” Character Award for Officials. “The Bodie” is presented annually to the OHL official who demonstrates a passion and dedication to officiating and the game of hockey, who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, professionalism, and is respected by OHL member teams, players, and fellow officials
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Dec 5th, 2013
SLASHING (THE STICK)

Hockey Canada Rule 8.4(a)
A Minor penalty or, at the discretion of the referee, a Major penalty and a Game Misconduct penalty shall be assessed any player who impedes or seeks to impede the progress of an opponent by “slashing” with her stick.

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Rule 8.4 is one of the more misunderstood and misapplied rules in the book as it pertains to slashing-the-stick violations. This is not only the case at the professional levels of the NHL and AHL, followed by major Junior A hockey but at all our levels in our Branch from University and Junior to AAA and House League. When the game was opened up by eliminating the clutch and grab players found some swift of foot opponents quickly skating by them. As a result they have resorted to the two handed slash on the stick to make their opponent lose control of the puck. Referees have had to make that quick discretionary call if the player was playing the puck or simply impeding his opponent. The rule of thumb was if he slashed the puck then the slashing action was legitimate. Then the blade of the stick was an acceptable area of contact followed by the lower shaft. Recently the trendy comment has been so long as the opponent’s hands were not struck.

Last year in the NHL playoffs David Clarkson of New Jersey scored a game wining goal after striking and breaking the stick of the Philadelphia player , Braydon Coburn, in the corner (viewable on YouTube). Coburn was unable to clear the puck and the Devils were able to take advantage of the loose puck and Clarkson scored. Philadelphia was outraged while the media had fun and the NHL defended the non-call by saying it was a soft slash and sticks break easily. However, the NHL, without changing their position on the call, have cracked down on slashing of the stick in the 2013-2014 season. NHL Rule 61.1 reads:
Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-aggressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing.

Let’s look at that rule. The key component is "any forceful or powerful chop on an opponent's body or stick that in the judgement of the Referee is not an attempt at playing the puck shall be penalized." Sound familiar? Just another way of saying a player cannot and should not be impeded. The rule allows for the Referee to use some discretion whether a player was impeded, whether the contact was forceful and whether the puck was played.

Although listed as a stick foul in the HC book, it says nothing about what slashing really is. There are no situations to help us understand the rule. There are no "slashing the stick" references. But rather then discount the rule, consider: it is what it is – a slash is a slash! The pro rule carries the message on slashing with vivid clarity and yet allows for the Referee's judgement. Clarity is provided in the first line of their rule. Any slashing (not tapping) act, be it one handed or two is to be penalized. If I "swing" my stick with a powerful stroke and make contact, as described in Rule 61.1, it is a slashing foul. If I am gaining distance and reach out and hit the blade of the stick and dislodge the puck; OK, it is an attempt to play the puck. No foul. But if it is a "swing" of my stick with a powerful stroke and contact is made then it is a slash and...a penalty must be called.

 

DROPPING THE PUCK – NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS

The line change routine is an integral part of every draw. It is all about synchronicity. Good line changes and subsequent clean draws (no matter which level of Hockey Canada, be it Novice house league through Midget AAA and into Junior and University hockey) start at the beginning of the game in the "reception" line with coaches.

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Introduce yourself. Knowing coaches’ and captains’ names, and them knowing yours, is an “ice breaker”. It sets the tone for familiarity that leads to communication and respect. Get to know the league you are regularly working. Ensure that for every stoppage of play for changes you are going to come out into full view for both Home and Visitor benches, then park yourself, look at the coach, call out his name if need be, wake him up and ask if he wants to change if he has forgotten. All too often we either hide down low or skate in a big circle with our hand in the air, to no one in particular and call it a line change procedure. The excuse that the coach doesn't care is irrelevant. We have a procedure to follow and a standard to set!

We should not have any variations in the face off standard no matter what level of hockey. Remember, you give the Visiting coach 5 seconds first, raise your arm closest to the benches sharply and high, and then give the Home coach 5 seconds for his line change. Obviously you have discretion if a team is not interested in a line change to reduce the time restriction, but be clear with your signals and observant of their actions.

Simply put, our job is to conduct face offs, not throw centres; however always ensure that neither centre gets an unfair advantage. During the first period you will meet the vast majority of centres and lines from both teams. Set the standards right away. Procedures have to recognizably routine by the officials. Done right, we will have sixty minutes with clean draws, original centres and a quick game. However, it starts with the mechanics and consistency of the line change procedure. While the Referee is conducting the line change by soliciting the visitors first, then the home team, terminating the change and skating backwards to the goal line or a neutral position, the linesman sets the wingers and any other players ready for the draw. The Referee "hands it off" to the linesman, with a clear point. The linesman now blows his whistle, signifying he is ready to release the puck. The players set behind him are now the sole responsibility of his partner positioned at the face off dot across from him in the neutral zone or diagonally outside the blue line in a deep zone, for a clear view should he see encroachment behind his partner. The linesman dropping the puck loudly tells the other players to "hold the circle" or “hold your position”, then clearly tells the centres to square their feet in the hash lines and with both sticks down flat on the white of the dot release the puck. Rule 10.2(a) states they will “stand squarely facing opponents’ end of the rink and clear of the face off restraining lines.”

No timing is involved and, above all, no hand movements, particularly the puck hand, which is at the belt line. For all the times we ask for consistency in our roles as officials, this is the one time to be inconsistent when dropping the puck. You have five seconds from the time you blow your whistle to releasing the puck. Do not get into a rhythm of whistle-drop, whistle-drop. Vary your timing. Face the puck up and visible to the centres, while you remain upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent for balance. Avoid bouncing around and keep your whistle hand tucked in tight to the thigh of your leg to avoid contact. Now drop the puck with a gentle rotation and hope it lands flat. Hold your position, as the players all know where you are, and then back out when it is safe to do so. Remember, you control the draw.

Dropping the puck, not as simple as it seems.

 

November 14, 2012
HEO Minor DISCIPLINE PROCESS

Every level of organized hockey in Canada has some type of a discipline process in place to respond when its members step well beyond acceptable conduct. HEO Minor is no different.

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In order to get into the formal Discipline process, the conduct needs to be serious. The usual types of behaviour which get people into the process are penalties such as MP24s, MP25s (threatening or actual physical abuse of official) and GM79s (refusal to start play).

While it is typically coaches and players who are the subject of Discipline hearings, over the years game officials, off -ice team officials and parents have all been referred to appear before the Discipline Committee.

The Discipline process is administered out of the HEO Minor’s hockey office in Ottawa. Once a serious infraction or an indefinite suspension comes to its attention, a 4 person Discipline Committee is convened and a hearing date and location is organized.

The hearing itself is a fairly informal process. It is largely a question and answer session during which the “accused” and accuser both get to explain their positions. Both sides are entitled to bring with them whatever information or witnesses they feel allows them to best explain their version of events. All are subject to questioning by the committee.

The committee itself is authorized to seek out additional information as it feels is useful to allow it to come to a proper conclusion.

Once the committee is satisfied that it has heard from the relevant witnesses and obtained the relevant documentation, the committee discusses the issues and a decision is made. The decision may uphold the original call, it may replace it with a different penalty or it may set it aside.

If a penalty is upheld and the HEO Minor or HEO requires a minimum suspension for that penalty, the committee must decide whether or not the minimum suspension is appropriate. For first offences, the minimum suspension is usually sufficient. However, some first offences are so far beyond the level of acceptable conduct that something more than the minimum is required.

Whatever the decision may be, it is based on many years of precedent. Principles have been developed over the years, most of which arise from either “two wrongs don’t make a right” or the core requirements of self discipline and personal responsibility.

A written decision is provided to the accused. The decision should set out not only the background facts but also the principles underlying the decision.

If the accused feels that the result is unfair, he or she has appeal rights to the Appeals Committee within the HEO, then to Hockey Canada and finally with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.

 


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