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The Big Question: Is it officially open season on goalies?

Nov 14, 2011, 6:46 PM EDT

Sean Avery doing his thing AP

The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Is it officially open season on goalies?

The NHL chose not to suspend Boston forward Milan Lucic for colliding with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan ruled that the two-minute minor Lucic received was appropriate, even though the Sabres say Miller suffered a concussion on the play.

Count Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff among those who thought Lucic should’ve been punished further.

“If he isn’t suspended, it just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did,” Ruff said. “Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty. That’s essentially what that means. You can concuss the other team’s goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it’s fair game on goaltenders.”

Reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin agreed with Ruff’s take, saying, “Goalies are going to be a target if you allow those kind of [Lucic] hits. You have to protect them or it’s going to be ugly.”

Of course, the reason Lucic wasn’t suspended is that no intent could be proven. At least, that’s what Shanahan led us to believe in his ruling. If there’d been intent, there’d have been supplementary discipline.

So has anything really changed? You still can’t intentionally run the goalie. But if you do, you have to make it look like an accident. Which has been going on forever.

Perhaps the onus officially falls on the players now. Don’t want your goalie abused? Make sure there’s a price exacted from the perpetrator. Like Vancouver forward Alex Burrows says: “It might be back to old-time hockey. The next thing you know, you might have a line brawl or a bench clearing.”

So what do you think? Did the NHL just tacitly endorse running the goalie as an effective strategy?

  1. dirtydog57 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Quit milking this one. Out of the crease the goalie is in play. Goalies abused their position and would skate out and not be touched. Stay in your crease or be hit like any other player and that’s that.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    What an absolutely ridiculous thing to say. If you don’t want your goalie to get hit tell him not to charge at an opposing player going full speed for the puck…and maybe tell your team to step up if you don’t like how your goalie gets treated. I’ve played goalie long enough to know not to do something like what Miller did without expecting some contact, of course I would have expected one of my teammates to pop Lucic. The onus is on Miller here and he knows it. Lindy knows it too so maybe he should keep his mouth shut for now

  3. buffalotears - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    This just sets the stage for another Bertuzzi incident. Good job Shanny

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM

      Right, because sucker-punching a defenseless player and bumping into a guy skating straight at you are the same. Your goalie got hurt, boo-hoo, it’s as much his fault as Lucic’s if not more

      • skullcracker - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:26 PM

        Miller came out and was fair game. Lucic has always been a cheap shot artist though. He should have had his face pushed in by one of Millers team mates. Good thing they play five more times. Lucic should figure the B on the sweater is a target now. Come on Sabes, man up. Time to put Thomas into the Northend station. Thanks for opening goalie season Shanahan.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 14, 2011 at 7:50 PM

      I just realized what buffalo actually meant by Bertuzzi incident, but Lucic won’t back down from any confrontation so there should be no need for someone to cheap-shot him

  4. challer9 - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    i don’t understand why the picture is of Avery inside the net? the hit wasn’t by Avery nor did it take place in the crease…

    • arsement - Nov 14, 2011 at 8:55 PM

      The picture looks to be of Avery on top of a goalie in the crease which is relevant to the headline of this article.

      • challer9 - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:13 PM

        no, it’s not really relevant. if ryan miller was in the crease and lucic just trucked him, he would have gotten a game misconduct and suspension. miller was 10 feet out of the crease, that is the issue. it has always been a penalty to barrel into the goalie while he’s in the crease.

  5. govtminion - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    Oh for the love of… Look, if he’s out of the crease, and he’s trying to play the puck, he’s legal for a hit. I’m sorry that he got hurt- I genuinely like Ryan Miller, and enjoy seeing him in net whenever the Bruins play the Sabres because he’s fun to watch, a goalie at the top of his game. But… if he comes out like that, he’s going to get hit. I would expect the same if I came out of my net as well.

    • youthoughtyouhaditbad - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:31 PM

      He is NOT legal for a hit. Read the rulebook. It doesn’t make it a suspension worthy hit or anything, but it is a penalty. Don’t like it, get the rulebook changed. Otherwise, do not say patently false statements like it was legal to hit him.

  6. pastabelly - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Sedin AKA Marchand’s human punching bag is still holding a grudge against the B’s. What did he have to say when his teammate Alex Burrows was biting Bergeron and when Rome put a headshot on Horton? I forgot that it’s only okay to criticize players on other teams.

    • danphipps01 - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:46 PM

      How’d you manage to forget that? For the past three days every post on this site has been Bruins and Sabres fans reminding you constantly. :D

  7. danphipps01 - Nov 14, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    Okay, this “open season” business really is in dire need of some perspective. How often do you see a goalie halfway to the blueline, racing for the puck to beat a giant power forward who in no way can be considered an agile skater? Hell, hack the second half of that sentence off. How often do you see a goalie halfway to the blueline racing for the puck? If goalies get slammed in their creases or slammed behind the net or really, slammed in any context where it’s obvious the hit is avoidable, suspensions will be handed down. No-one’s declared “open season” on anyone. The next crusher laid on a goalie will net a suspension, guaranteed. Calm down, people. Nothing’s changed.

  8. donfocker89 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    So Chara and Lucic walk away? I wonder if every player in Boston have boats that are named “Above the Law.” Sabres play Boston in almost a week so I think Shanny was just saving his suspensions for that game.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 15, 2011 at 1:41 AM

      If you still think Chara deserved a suspension you should pick another sport to watch, or at least move to Montreal

      • donfocker89 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM

        Nah I’ll stay put where I am and you can continue your “lack of intent” reason with everything the Bruins do. The Police got involved on Chara but not the NHL? (Of course it was the Montreal Police hahah)

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        The NHl didn’t get involved with Chara because he got a 5 and a game for interference, which is exactly what the play was, an interference penalty

  9. cshearing - Nov 15, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    First off, the rules do NOT say the goalie is fair game if out of the crease. In fact, the actual words “not fair game” appear in the rulebook. You cannot get much more conclusive than that. So plenty of people are wrong on that front.

    I thought Shanny should have given Lucic one game, but no more. The hit was not particularly vicious, but it could have been avoided more than it was. Buffalo has responded as I would expect; they are pissed. What we need to remember, however, is that they are probably just as mad at themselves for how they reacted, so some of that anger is misdirected.

    I know I’ll be checking out their next game.

  10. donfocker89 - Nov 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    A lot of this debate focuses on how its Millers fault because he came out of the net. Wouldnt it be cheap if he came out to knock someone down who didnt expect it? How often do you see goalies go after players? Please excuse all your Snow, Johnson, Dippietro, and even Biron and Emery references for this topic.

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