The manor in which NHL linesman handle face-off encroachment puzzles me. I have watched this closely throughout the regular season and now the playoffs. What I do not understand is, why on the first try is a linesman apt to kick out a player, but on the second try they drop the puck right away? I believe that there is a one reason that this happens. It basically boils down to the fear that if they do not drop the puck quickly on the second try, they will have to call a penalty.
I actually agree with the way the linesman handle the first attempt. I think that their judgement on kicking out a player is right on most of the time. I just think that the second attempt is quite ridiculous. Just watch, the first is handled correctly, and if they have to kick out a guy, the second guy just steps in, and the puck is dropped. It is a difficult penalty to call, but the rules are the rules. If you don’t want to make that call, maybe you should just drop it quick on the first attempt. It would not put the linesman in this difficult situation, and would speed up the game.
The National Hockey League dictates the method in which face-offs are to be handled in the yearly publication Official Rules of the NHL. The rule in which a player encroaches on a face-off is a violation of NHL Rule 76.6. This reads that “when at least two face-off violations have been committed by the same team during the same face-off, this team shall be penalized with a bench minor penalty to the offending team.” The team penalized will receive a penalty that will be labeled a “Bench Minor Penalty for Delay of Game.” This penalty is not called very often. If the second drop attempt was handled like the first, it would have to be called more frequently. The difficult part of monitoring this is that this call falls under the delay of game penalty. It is lumped into the various ways that delay of game can be called. This makes it very difficult to actually track how many times it is called on a yearly basis. I am not asking linesman to handle the second drop like they do the first. Eliminate the issue and just drop the puck quick on the first attempt. Coaches have this one figured out. It is common practice to send out a winger or second center into the face-off circle, only to have him cheat on purpose. He either wins the draw, or gets kicked out. If he gets kicked out, they then throw in the face off specialist. He has nothing to lose by cheating on the first attempt. Odds are the second center will step in, and the puck will be dropped quickly.
The way in which this can be eliminated is to just drop the first attempt quick. The NHL linesman do a great job of communicating with the players. Tell the players your expectations, and drop it quick. If someone jumps, kick them out, and try again quick. If it happens again make the call, you gave them ample warning. I am willing to bet that if the first attempt is dropped quick the amount of violations will be cut in half. Speed up the game – Drop the Puck!