Hey Goalie, Stay In Your Net

Many might not like how it happened but hopefully Ryan Miller received the figurative memo that Milan Lucic sent him last night. If the big Bruins forward was to actually have sent him one it likely would have read “Dear Ryan, sorry I hit you so hard but if you wanna come out and play the puck like a player then you better be prepared to be hit like a player.”

The hit that Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic layed on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller last night was not a cheap shot but one that could be skewered that way. The hit and the result are a product of NHL goalies being under the impression that they are immune from contact.

I’ve never understood when and why goaltenders came to the assumption that they are allowed to travel anywhere their little hearts desire on the ice and play the puck, yet feel that they are exempt from bearing the brunt of contact like everyone else.

When did goalies get the idea that the fans want to see them play the puck in the first place? With all due respect, goalies handling the puck is the last thing people want to see and the NHL has already implemented one rule that was created to try and prevent them from doing so.

Back in the “old” NHL when clutching and grabbing was not enforced the way it is today, defensemen would simply hold up the on-rushing forechecker and then guess what would happen? The forechecker would be unable to retrieve the dump-in and the goalie would easily go behind the net, stop the puck and play it to his defenseman who would then clear it, or if you were as adept at puck-handling as Martin Brodeur, you could even clear the puck yourself.

Puck goes in, puck goes out, puck goes in, puck goes out. Wow how exciting! (note the sarcasm)

That was the reason why the trapezoid was put in behind the net. Goalies being able to play the puck and help clear the zone became so bloody boring that the NHL actually made a rule change to stop it. So why then do NHL goaltenders continue to think they can wander wherever they please, make themselves a part of the game, but then expect to be treated like a porcelain doll?

No my friends it doesn’t work that way. And while the overbearing goalie protectors of the world will continue to cry foul over the body-check, and as much as Milan Lucic will be made out to be the bad guy; there was nothing wrong with what he did. The only thing wrong in this situation was the mentality of NHL goalies.

Now, it is certainly unfortunate that Miller has been announced to have suffered a concussion but it doesn’t change the fact that had he not gone out to play the puck with the idea that he was an “untouchable” player then this would have been avoided. He should have been braced for contact because no where in the rule book does it say that a goalie can’t be hit if they come far out of their crease.

It is a hard lesson to learn, but hopefully the next time a goalie decides that he is going to be his team’s third defenseman, he will have his head up and be prepared for a collision; just like he should be.

Harsh I know.

 

Andrew Sykes

Andrew Sykes

Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey's Future.

15 Comments

  1. Debunking stupid ideas says:

    Look whos stupid! Yes. Goalies are immune. There is a specific rule (Rule 69 in the NHL RuleBook) that basicly says  “Goaltenders are never to be hit. Inside or outside their crease”
    How about you know hockey before wrighting about it?

    • It says that in print only pal. If that rule held any merit at all then why wasn’t Lucic suspended? Exactly.

      • In print only? Maybe this should be brought to the attention of the league. It is a rule and should be enforced like any other rule. Perhaps this is why goalies think the way they do..

  2. I agree. I cringe everytime a goalie wanders so far out of his crease.

  3. I do agree that this wasn’t a “cheap shot,” but let’s not pretend this is about whether or not goaltenders being “fair game.”

    This hit would’ve been a charge, even if it were a skater, not a goaltender that were on the receiving end. In fact this was called “charging” not “goaltender interference.”

    If Lucic made contact with the head (which is not obvious by the views I’ve seen), then there could be supplemental discipline.

  4. I agree 100% that goalies should be well protected, especially in and around their crease, but I do have to say that if the goalie decides to go out that far and persue the puck when a power forward like Lucic is barreling down the ice full speed then he’s going to have to know that there’s a risk for getting hit… and getting hit hard. I’m glad that the league is cracking down on some cheap shots, but I also get mad that people call certain hits “cheap” when in reality the player is flying full speed down the ice. How can you realistically stop yourself when another player makes a move at the last second? You can’t… and therefore I say that although the hit was a hard one, I can’t totally put the blame on Lucic for not being able to put the brakes on.

  5. Whatever you’re smoking, I want some of it.

    Your argument may be valid if a goon with a checkered past wasn’t the one to barrel over Miller, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case here. I think our fellow THW journalist says it best:

    http://thehockeywriters.com/lucic-hit-another-in-line-of-cheap-shots-deserves-suspension/

    After this hit, momentum in that game really swayed in favor of the Bruins. A 2 minute minor? Yeah, ok. The Sheriff Shanny needs to continue handing out fines and suspensions if he’s looking for consistency this season and bringing in repeat offenders.

    • I’m not sure what you’re reading, but everything under the NHL Rule 23 (which deals with suspensions) implies Lucic should NOT be suspended. Lucic got his punishment as dictated by the law, which is, a minor or major based on the referee’s decision. It was neither boarding, stick infraction or hitting from behind.

    • As I expected no suspension. Looks like “Sheriff Shanny” gets what I was talking abouut. Maybe you’re the one smoking the funny stuff.

  6. According to NHL rules on goaltender interference: “A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.”

    I’ve played goalie for 20 years at various levels. In your wonderfully written article, maybe you should ask the NHL to change its rules rather than telling a goalie to stay in his net. Fine, if the rules state that we are fair game, then I’m ok with the hit. He played by the rules, and came out expecting not to be touched. Don’t blame the goalie, blame the NHL.
    And one more thing, get educated on the rules before your rant. You state that you have “EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE” of hockey at various levels – but fail to mention the NHL rule where you cannot touch the goalie? If you have a problem with this penalty. Quote the rule. That’s how a knowledgeable writer would have done it.

    • Two things:
      1. A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper
      2. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

      So lets see here. A goaltender is not fair game but contact is permitted when he leaves the crease as long as it is “incidental.” Hmm so one rule says you can’t hit them but the other says you can. Sounds a little contradictory to me and whats why I said there is no clear rule because it is exactly that; not clear. I fully understand protecting goalies when they are in the crease or at least relatively close to their crease because they are there to focus on one thing; stopping the puck. But when they come out that far no longer are they just trying to stop the puck, but rather they are acting as en extra defenseman. Which is fine but if you wanna play like a defenseman then you better be prepared to be hit like one.

      • I think it is pretty clear in stating that the attacking player has made a “reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact”. This is not applicable to a defenseman. Therefore the comparison is not valid.

        Summarized, it means: You cannot touch the goalie on purpose. If you do make contact with the goalie, you must show that you made a clear effort to deviate your path. Or in short, avoid touching the goalie.

        As a goalie, I have all these rules memorized and understood.

        • Question: When a player is throwing his body around the crease trying to block shots, does he suddenly become immune to contact just because he is acting as a goalie? Don’t think so. Why then do goalies think they are immune to contact when they try to act as a player? Quit babying these guys. Its simple. If you don’t wanna be hit, stay in your crease.

          That being said I can agree with the fact that Lucic made no reasonable effort to get out of the way and skated a good length of the ice to hit him, thus the 2 minute charging penalty. But it should be nothing more.

    • Also, I believe I did place most of the blame on the NHL and not on Miller when I said this: “The hit and the result are a product of NHL goalies being under the impression that they are immune from contact”

      • I understand you think you placed the blame on the NHL, but it did not come out that way. “Impression that they are immune to contact”.

        I have the impression that I cannot bring a gun onto a plane. Why? Because its the law.

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