Michael DeNicola

12/01/10

 

December's finally here and we have one more month of 2010. November came and went, and the Flyers finished the month 9-2-3. Not too shabby.

But it wasn't their schedule that stood out so much. It was the debacle that rose up in their last 3-match ups.

 

First let me point out the elephant in the room; Yes, there hasn't been an article written on PhillyReign for quite sometime, and I apologize about that. But I wasn't around much during the Thanksgiving break, and I needed some time to reflect on a certain issue that's blown every Flyers fan away.

 

After Philadelphia went into Minnesota and crapped all over the Wild, 6-goals to 1, you'd think the next two tilts versus the hemorrhaging Calgary Flames and the surprisingly awful New Jersey Devils would hardly be anything less than some more ass kicking.

Wrong.

Our Orange Soldiers lost two games in a row in Shoot Outs. And every Flyers fanatic knows that luck hasn't really turned a kind eye to the Broad Street Bullies. In fact, we detest the Shoot Out.

But it was harder to watch the shootout against the Flames, specifically, because of what happened in the prior OT period.

 

Halfway through overtime, Flames player Mark Giordano was called for holding a skater's stick which set off a 4-on-3 powerplay for the Flyers.

By the time the puck was met at the point by Flyers Captain, Mike Richards, Chris Pronger had set up in front of Flames net tender, Miika Kiprusoff, looking to screen Miika or perhaps redirect a teammate's shot.

A lot happened in next five seconds that took place.

Once Richards wristed a shot from the point past Kiprusoff, the Philadelphia goal horn sounded for a moment before it was waved off.

The call?

Pronger was whistled for interfering with the goalie, thus giving Miika an illegal disadvantage to make a stop.

But that's not what chapped the hometown crowds' ass! Apparently Pronger's penalty was similar to that of Rangers agitator Sean Avery's circus antics he put on in front of Devils tender, Martin Brodeur, back in 2008.

So our 6'6" star defenceman was called for Unsportsmanlike Game Misconduct for waving a free arm in the face of Kiprusoff.

Judging by what I read from Pronger's mouth after the call, he was completely in disagreement. Actually that's an understatement. I specifically recall seeing Chris mouth the following, "Oh what the f*ck!? Bullshit. Go f*ck yourself!"

Think he was upset? Try listening to the crowd's reaction.

Watching from my couch I could hear a very upset, very perturbed Flyers attendance. Witnesses and players said it was one of the loudest Wells Fargo Center moments they've ever been a part of. And I believe it.

 

Not only was Richards' waved-off potted puck the game winning goal, but it would have redeemed a Flyers offense that never got it together for 60-minutes against a blatantly lesser opponent. To top it off, the zebra who announced the infraction - Ghislain Hebert - spends his career being table-tennis'd back and forth between the NHL and AHL, so immediately there's some speculation with the validity of this ref's on-ice judgment.

The biggest kick to the balls was Hebert's decision to call the penalty a full three seconds AFTER Pronger committed the penalty! It just keeps getting worse!

So who the hell does this fly-by-night referee think he is calling a fluky penalty like this? And against a future Hall Of Fame defenceman!?!?!?

 

Look, I don't want to come off as a biased Flyers fan with an obnoxious homer opinion. I do have my objective moments, and here's one of 'em;

I can see why Pronger got the call. I really can. For a split second he glared backward at Kiprusoff's position in the crease and decided to wave his free left arm in Miika's mask.

Boom. If you're gonna make the call....THAT'S when you blow the whistle. But instead, Hebert waited, and during his hesitation Pronger placed his hand BACK on his stick ending his waving arm motion. But that's when he was struck in the back of the legs from a slashing Kiprusoff which obviously took Miika's attention away from the play and  allowed Richards to make the goal.

So not only did Miika Kiprusoff get off with a slashing penalty, but it wasn't even Pronger's waving wing that distracted him. It was Miika's own douchebag decision to axe Pronger's planted tree trunks.

Ya see? It's all too fishy.

 

Once the game was finished, the media jumped all over it. Stories left and right surfaced protecting the referee's call, and some tearing the decision apart.

The worst of it all was the league's justification of the call. Again, they compared a small wave of Pronger's arm to Sean Avery's obstruction of Brodeur's view two seasons ago which led to a new rule in the book..."The Avery Rule", which clearly states the following:

*An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play*, as written by the league's head disciplinarian, Colin Campbell.

 

Per a Philly.com Sports article - NHL director of officiating, Terry Gregson, had this to say about the incident:

"The infraction is not in the NHL's 2010-11 rule book. Instead, under Rule 75, there are generalities listed under "unsportsmanlike conduct". We don't list everything that constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct - because, to tell you the truth, there may be something we miss. So, it's general and all-encompassing."

Okay?

"It's about the act, not whether or not he's facing the goaltender."

 

Well last time I checked, Gregson, technically a rule is not supposed to have a loop hole in it. Once it's written in stone it's supposed to be upheld by the very words that builds it. No more, no less. And the Avery Rule clearly states that an offensive player may not FACE the goalie and wave his stick or hands in the face of the opposing goaltender.

Pronger wasn't facing Kiprusoff. And again, if the call's going to be made, then there shouldn't be any goddamn hesitation by the official.

 

Once more our beloved National Hockey League's proven to employ incompetent referees and linesmen.

If the War Room is going out of their way to strictly enforce penalties on players protecting them from OTHER players, then when will they take the time to protect the players from bad officiating?

This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.

But what can we expect? The suits running this show such as Colin Campbell, Gary Bettman and Terry Gregson have the collected unbiased ethical structure of a Communist Dictator. They don't need to give sensible reasoning behind their movements. What they say...goes.

It's like having parents who run a meth lab in your house's basement tell you not to eat candy too late at night.

 

*  *  *

 

There is information about that call all over the internet. With two words typed into Google's search field you'll be smacked in the face with a plethora of interviews, quotes, and opinions.

There's certainly information I'm missing. There's certainly information I'm ignorant to. What you've read here is my opinion that obviously is being shared throughout the hockey world.

I hope I didn't come off as just another Philadelphia Flyers Conspiracy Theorist. That wasn't my mission. But when I see a bad call I do my best to give myself time to check out all the variables of the equation and go from there.

Alright, that's a blatant lie. There's no one on this earth more ready to explode at the drop of a hat than I am. I admit that. And after witnessing Richards' called-off GWG last black Friday I wanted to punch the first person I saw.

My dog will be missed.