Play On

Last night, during the Coyotes game 5 loss to the Kings, Mike Smith lost his catching glove while L.A. was attacking and play continued because it was supposed to. Smith was pissed, of course, but the refs can’t make up rules as they go. I suspect there will generally be two sides of this discussion: Goalies who want to be as protected as possible and forwards who, like me, pictured themselves gunning that puck on Smith as hard as they could just to see how dedicated he is.

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Before you call me a monster, I’m glad play stops when the goalie loses his mask because the head/face are almost as sacred to guys as their junk is, but a broken hand won’t kill you. The way people shoot the puck now, if a goalie were to lose his mask and take, say, a Chara shot off the head, his career could be over. Worse, he could die. Yes, he really could. So in order to spare the life of the goalie, they blow the whistle. But if a goalie loses his glove, his life is not in danger. If Smith had tried to make a save with his bare hand, it would have probably been broken and his season would be over, but he would live.

You all know that playing hockey comes with risks, right?

Some wonder why the NHL doesn’t also blow play dead when skaters lose their equipment. Well, a skater has the option to leave the ice or not go down to block shots while missing gear. Okay, not really because if he did bail on the play, he’d be ripped a new one by everyone with a pulse, but he still has to chose to stay in the line of fire. Goalies don’t have that option. They have to stay right there in front of the net which just so happens to be a magnet for pucks. This is why it makes sense to protect the heads of goalies and let play continue even though Joe Skater is missing his helmet.

That was a fun rabbit trail. Now back to the point:

It’s bad enough that some goalies drop their helmets when his team needs a breather. It’s gutsy because he doesn’t know if the ref will notice before a shot is taken, but it’s also cheating and cheating is bad. Mkay? So now imagine the Wings are buzzing on a 5 on 3 (shut up, it used to happen all the time) and Goalie McGoalerson drops his catching glove. The ref blows the play dead because his hand could have been hurt. The shorthanded team wins the upcoming faceoff, clears the puck and that’s that. Was it hard work that killed the power play? No, it was a cheap trick and you know goalies will try it. They already do now with their helmets, so it would probably increase if gloves were brought into the mix.

Please stop ruining hockey by demanding a rule change for every freak accident you witness on TV. These are grown men who chose to get paid to play a physical game. Stop trying to save them from themselves. Goalies can tie their equipment down tighter if they’re really worried. They can also choose not to stop pucks with their bare hands.