Sunday, November 6, 2011

Clarification On @NHL "Second Altercation" Rule

I think many people were as perplexed as me last night when Mike Sauer and Petteri Nokelainen were given game misconducts for a fight that occurred in the first few minutes of last night's game. The fight which occurred right after the fight between Michael Blunden and Ryan Callahan had ended was apparently deemed as a "second altercation." I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the rules of the game and know most rules (even the rarely called ones). However, I was very surprised by this call because it seemed like a legitimate fight between two willing combatants that just happened to occur at the heat of the moment at the same time as another fight.

This morning I set out to find out exactly what the rule is, if it's new and how this fight qualified as ejection worthy. It appears that the game misconducts were discretionary, not mandatory. From what I can see, the only rule that this would violate is one of the sub-rules for fighting (Rule 46.16), "Third Man In."

The rule specifically states:
A game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress except when a match penalty is being imposed in the original altercation. This penalty is in addition to any other penalties incurred in the same incident. This rule also applies to subsequent players who elect to intervene in the same or other altercations during the same stoppage of play.
So basically the refs had the option to either give Sauer and Nokelainen five minutes to calm down in the sin bin or give them five minutes and give them a game misconduct. Of course, they chose to throw the book at them. Why? I understand the purpose of the "third man in rule" when it's protecting the primary two fighters from a third player intervening. However, here these two players engaged in a fight that in no way jeopardized the primary two fighters.

This is a lame rule. Even lamer that the refs had discretion and decided to hammer the two players. Some people just don't know how to use discretion, I guess.

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