Rule 43 – Checking From Behind. Defined in 43.1 as a check delivered on a player who is not aware of the impending hit, therefore unable to protect or defend himself, and contact is made on the back part of the body. When a player intentionally turns his body to create contact with his back, no penalty shall be assessed.
There is no provision for a minor penalty (43.2), only a major (43.3) with more able to be added on later in the rule.
I’ve been thinking about this for a little while. I know, as do many of you, that a lot of these hits are called boarding so that they may be given a minor since there’s no way to give a checking from behind minor. In fact I can’t really recall having heard anything but boarding called even when a major is doled out in recent memory, although I’m sure there are a few cases.
We put stop signs on the back of minor hockey players’ jerseys to keep them from hitting each other from behind. Yet we see in the NHL both guys who turn away from hits (maybe in hopes of avoiding contact) and guys who just blow up another player from behind, square in the numbers. Yes I know things happen at amazing speeds and split seconds determine contact angles in the game. But has the time come to either add the minor penalty and call it checking from behind, or really crack down and enforce the major far more often?
I think if you begin to call more checking from behind penalties, you are going to draw more attention to the fact that it’s not ok to plow someone in the nameplate. The mere stigma associated with more penalties being called and heightened visibility will have an impact with youth hockey players. The NHL is setting the example for these kids. I know I wanted to emulate everything NHL when I was young and learning hockey. It’s why I had a Mike Bossy street hockey stick and a Wayne Gretzky ice hockey stick. Then why I wanted to be like every NHL goaltender all at once. They were my heroes.
On top of that, if you truly want to change the nature of the game at the NHL level and stop the injuries and suspensions that come from these hits, it’s going to take some retraining. It’s going to take some suffering through killing a five minute major more often. Perhaps over the course of more than one season of enforcement. Look at how the new hooking and holding standards eventually kicked in, even if they eventually relaxed a little. And if you read that text quoted above, I think you can find room to call far more of them and really begin to change the culture.
I don’t want to ban contact. Big hits are important. I would like to see guys square up more to impending contact so as not to get injured or injure others. Absorb the hit better – and honestly I don’t know if that’s even being taught today. I came up through youth hockey 30 years ago and we learned how to hit and take a hit, stay on your feet and stay in the play. Perhaps a renewed focus on that would help. Being strong on your feet and balanced. But that’s a future generation impact. To impact the now, you need to bring more awareness on checks from behind and I think the way to do that is to call them exactly what they are.
At the end of the day, I would support a minor penalty in this category for lighter hits, but anything with some type of force I would have no problem seeing called a major. If you can’t catch the crest on the front or small numbers on the sleeve, you have no business hitting that person. If you’re truly going to change what I really think is a dangerous element, you have to put your foot down on it.
What do you think? Feel free to discuss things over in the forums.
Until next time, keep your stick (and your skates) on the ice.
It wasn’t the prettiest week for the Predators, that’s for sure. Going 0-for-California wasn’t what the club had in mind, scoring only three goals during that stretch. So it probably doesn’t surprise anyone to hear the word “change” floating about at practice today.
Nashville has made its second and third waiver claims of the season by plucking Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk off the wire this week. For a team desperately looking for a spark, it’s definitely a chance worth taking on two younger and hopefully motivated players who might do well with a change of scenery.
Head coach Barry Trotz wasted no time in dropping both players into full roles at practice today, placing Butler with Martin Erat and Craig Smith as well as on a power play unit; Boychuk was installed with Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher. Mind you, things can certainly change over the next few days before Nashville battles Edmonton on Friday night, but for the time being that leaves other lines as Kostitsyn-Gaustad-Clune and Wilson-Legwand-Bourque with Spaling and Halischuk wearing the light blue sweaters on their own.
Coach Trotz has this to say about plugging in his two new players:
“I’m just learning about Zach… he’s got a good skill set and he can really scoot. He’s had success at the American Hockey League level but not at the NHL level, so we need to find out where he can change to have success here.
“Butler has had some success at both levels but hasn’t had staying power yet. This is an opportunity for both of them. Our scouts have identified them as guys who can give us an offensive boost but we’ve got to figure out what makes them tick so they can have success at this level.”
So how do you do that with a player?
“I think you have to give them honest evaluation,” Trotz said. “We always want to hear what we’re doing well, but sometimes you’ve got to be a little honest and say ‘this is what holds you back, this is why you’re not having success.' We all have holes, we’re all human.”
True enough that these two have not seen full-time success at the NHL level. Boychuk was drafted 14th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008 and has had high expectations because of that. But with Nashville marking his third NHL stop this season, the time is quickly approaching to define himself as something more than a player who will bounce from team to team.
Butler has taken a slightly different route as an undrafted free agent who has skated for the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils before coming to Nashville. A former Hobey Baker award finalist at the University of New Hampshire, Butler never seemed to fit in with the Devils so perhaps moving to another organization is just what the doctor ordered for him.
“Realistically we’re not happy with our game, realistically we’re underachieving from what I think our potential is, realistically as a group we’re under achieving,” said Trotz. “It goes right through the room… from the coaching staff to the players. We’re all together in this.”
Perhaps adding a little bit to the mix will provide the right recipe for team success as well.
Rich Clune was out on the ice without his jaw protector for the first time in several weeks, causing him to remark as he walked by: “The muzzle is off!”
Victor Bartley skated with the Predators today and will wear #64 just as he did in training camp. With Milwaukee this year, Bartley has seven goals and 26 points to go with a +4 rating in 54 games.
You’d better come to the rink this weekend if you want to see this team – the Predators play only two home games in a 10 game stretch that won’t see another contest at Bridgestone Arena after Saturday until March 21 when they host the Calgary Flames.
First of all – HAPPY NEW YEAR! – I hope that you start this year off on the right paw and that we all make a little more time, have a little more patience, and gather very soon at 501 Broadway.
While I’m also going to continue my city tour on here today, I wanted to take a moment to implore you to check out the World Junior Championship if you haven’t until now. You can catch the games on NHL Network (my DVR has been awesome here). Team USA has made it all the way to the gold medal game against Sweden after faltering early in the tournament. It’s like someone flipped a switch and suddenly they’ve been on fire, looking especially convincing in downing Canada 5-1 to get to the gold medal match. Give these kids a good look as many sure-fire NHL prospects are displaying their talents. USA vs. Sweden will air tomorrow morning live at 7 am on the NHL Network – check it out!
OK, back to the city tour:
The City of Angels! Despite the ridiculous traffic, I do love LA. There’s so much to see and do, so I’ll skip the obvious highlights and try to mine a few nuggets for you.
We usually stay around the LA Live area, and there are three things I definitely recommend you check out. The first is the Grammy Museum, which I try to visit every time we go there. While some of the displays are the same, many of them rotate. If you’re a music nut like me, this place is incredible. I’ve seen exhibits on John Lennon, James Brown, George Harrison, and many others. Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughan used to own a 51 Fender Broadcaster(!) and it now hangs there. Images, videos and music await you. However, you simply must spend time at the touch stations. One is a flat table touch station when you come in and it gives you the history of different kinds of music and links them to other similar styles. You can spend hours exploring these stations, and let me tell you I’ve seeded some pretty incredible Pandora stations from this display. Second, there is a touch screen where you can see a city’s music heritage by decade by touching on it from a map of the US. While the cities you’d expect are on there, check out some of the smaller places and see what the contributions are/were.
Second, go eat at the Original Pantry, and bring cash. The Original Pantry has been kicking since 1924, and when the time came to move in 1950 it literally served lunch in the old location and dinner in the new on the same day. It’s not big so expect a wait during crowded times, but totally worth the experience and the food. It’s at the corner of 9th and Figueroa.
Finally, there is a taco truck that parks right across the street from the cinema by the JW Marriott. Just go (and again, bring cash).
Two decidedly different cities and we have stayed in both. St. Paul is where the rink is, and we’ve stayed across a small park from the walkway to the arena. The little park itself (called Rice Park) is decorated with Peanuts characters and is a fun place to sit and drink a coffee if it’s not too cold outside. Not only are you around the corner from the Xcel Energy Center, but the Science Museum and St. Paul Rivercentre as well.
Minneapolis is a lot of downtown shopping and eateriescompared to St. Paul, which has an older, more stately feel. This is the side of the river where the hoops and baseball teams play. Check out the Warehouse District for good restaurants and coffee shops, art galleries andantiques. Of course, there’s the Mall of America if you want something new or to ride a roller coaster.
Trivia: Do you know the name of the river that runs through the Twin Cities? The answer is below.
I enjoy Montreal even though it seems every single time I’m there a minus sign seems to be in front of the temperature reading. The city is connected by a series of underground walkways that are easy to get lost in or lose your bearings, so when taking these make sure you map out where you need to go beforehand.
Montreal is one of the older and more European cities in North America. If you want to experience on a small level what it can be like to sail across the foam, go here. Beautiful old buildings and ornate churches seem to dot every corner. Old Montreal is full of several shops and galleries, and the food is by and large excellent. Oh, and try poutine if you never have. Fries (called pomme frites or simply frites) covered with cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy. Yum!
Also, if you’re a history buff Montreal will appeal to you. Much of Canada (especially its Francophone culture) centers here. From its beginnings as a trapping and trading center through the modern day there is much to learn if you have the time.
Nashville – It’s awesome. Come visit. Say hello.
This is a tough one. We don’t stay near Newark, in fact we stay down the highway at a hotel located near a shopping mall. At least it’s a nice mall. I do wonder what Newark was like “back in the day”.
New York (Islanders)
Again, a tough one. We stay at a hotel across the parking lot from the arena. There’s a sports bar in the lobby that seems to get a lot of patronage. I’m anxiously awaiting this club’s move to Brooklyn!
Trivia Answer: The Mississippi River
Well, that’s it for this time. Thanks for reading and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
Part three in the continuing series of places we see on the road starts us off in Dallas. Having lived in west Texas before I have a particular shining for the Lone Star State and Texans in general. There’s always good BBQ to be had out there, but in Texas BBQ means brisket (not pork) as its default setting. That’s completely fine with me. Also always a treat when you head down that way is TexMex cuisine, which tends to have a bit of spicy flair and a more homemade feel to it.
Because the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is so big, it’s tough to do everything there or even see everything. I do recommend the Dealey Plaza museum if you’re interested in JFK in any way. The aquarium was a fun spot to spend half of my day, but it was PACKED when I went which made it a little harder to enjoy. And I do remember from my days in the WPHL that the Stockyards area in Fort Worth was fun.
Now we head to the heartbeat of the American motor industry, Detroit. While it is true this city has fallen on some hard times, there are interesting places to visit even in the downtown area. First of all, the hotel we stay in is the Westin Book Cadillac. I don’t know how many of you are baseball buffs, but the Book Cadillac was the hotel where Lou Gehrig told his manager Joe McCarthy that he couldn’t go that day – the streak ended in Detroit.
If you do like baseball, part of Tiger Stadium still stands (although you can’t do much more than look at it through the fence). Nearby is a little place called Nemo’s that is cash only and has pretty good burgers. It’s an old-school favorite for the Detroit sports crowd.
There are many casinos in Detroit in various places, and over in a spot called Greektown there are not only casinos but also some nice restaurants and bakeries to visit. Oddly enough, you can get pretty good deep dish in Detroit at a place called PizzaPapalis.
Also not to be missed just down the street is a little Irish pub called the Old Shillelagh. I do have to say that the live music at this place one night really made me pine for Nashville and realize how lucky we are in terms of quality of bands everywhere!
Now we go to Edmonton, and for me it’s pretty neat to be in the arena where pictures of Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr, Coffee and others line the walls, a constant reminder of the dynasty that used to patrol the ice here in the 80s. It’s also one of the few Canadian buildings that has an ATM that will work with my bank card so I go to it all the time.
In downtown Edmonton there’s a good bit of shopping located near the downtown area, but it seems like when we’re up there we rarely go very far because of how cold it tends to get. The usual spot to find many of the broadcast staff would be at the Sherlock Holmes, and I recommend trying the Alberta Angus Beef
Steak Sandwich. It’s on garlic bread with cheese, onion straws,
mayo… and now I’m hungry!
This installment wraps up with the Florida Panthers home area, which is technically in Sunrise, FL and not Miami (though it is a Miami suburb). I’ve never actually been to Miami proper so I can’t give you a scouting report on that. Basically we stay across the street from a mall and near some restaurants, and you’ve got to take a cab or a shuttle to get anywhere.
I’ve HEARD there’s a lot of fun to be had at the beach, some pretty good golf courses, and Miami itself is supposed to be pretty cool. I’ve just never quite made it over to any of those places. You’ll have to check out the tourism websites on this one.
Wishing you and your family a safe and Merry Christmas and a joyous and healthy New Year.
Part two of my series on NHL cities in roughly one paragraph:
Carolina (Raleigh-Durham, NC)
I love the Carolinas to begin with, and I have friends who live there so I tend to see a little more of the surrounding areas than perhaps most people who would just go there for hockey. The rink is right by the football stadium for NC State and the Hurricanes fans tailgate hardcore! There’s always delicious BBQ around (mostly of the pork variety and a lot of mustard-based sauces) and the cities have an enjoyable arts and music scene.
Always one of my favorite places to go on the road because there’s just so much to do here no matter what time of year. This might be the best (so probably also the worst!) city to eat in on the road with tons of options. We also tend to stay near Michigan Avenue, which is a tremendous shopping district. It’s easy to walk many places in this city, and there’s also a good bit of public transport. I’m a fan of Giordano’s over Gino’s in the pizza decision, although Stu also votes for Lou Malnati’s for pizza above the other two. I seriously saw that man down six slices of deep dish at one sitting. I swear he has a hollow leg. Oh, don’t miss The Rosebud for lunch.
Denver is another one of my favorites. We stay out near the Cherry Creek area, which has a nice mall and upscale shopping, but a great little bar and burger joint called the Cherry Cricket. You can get everything on your burger from cream cheese (do this!) to egg and peanut butter (your call). This area also has a great arts festival around July 4 every year. Downtown there are a lot of great museums and brewpubs, but make sure you check out the area by the ballpark. There are quite a few awesome choices out that way. Plus it’s worth renting a car and heading to the mountains for any outdoor (or indoor) activity of your choosing. Amazing scenery. Just drink plenty of water – the air is indeed very thin.
People might not really be on the Columbus party train, but I am. This fun little city has an excellent German district called the German Village. Think an awesome mix of Germantown and East Nashville. Go eat at Schmidt’s restaurant (don’t argue with me) where the potato soup, pretzel nuggets, Autobahn sausage and more buffet should all be on your list – but save room for the giant creampuff at the meal’s end! Make sure you check out the arena district and the “R” Bar – this place is hockey themed through and through. You can even sit in the penalty box for your meal. There’s a Tim Horton’s in the arena. Other viable options include Elevator Brewing Company (dinner and drinks, several blocks from the arena) or the Tip Top (good bar food, drinks), which is the best and most low-key place to end your night.
Well, just to make things interesting and because I’m missing hockey, I’m going to go through all 29 other NHL cities and give you just a small glimpse into what I like about each one. I figure if I’m thinking about road trips and places I’ve been, I might as well try to give you just that little feel for what each place is like. I’m going to go in alphabetical order to be fair.
I love Southern California anyway – great weather, ocean breeze, no bugs – but as far as Anaheim goes we tend to stay in two or three different locations. One of those locations puts us close enough that we can take a cab to the beach on an off day for a meal or just to relax, which is great (but for me rarely happens). Usually we’re near a shopping mall which is great, but there’s also a wonderful deli we hold our morning meetings at near one hotel, and In-N-Out Burger is within walking distance. Plus it’s close enough to Disneyland that I actually got to go once. That was pretty cool.
Having lived in New Hampshire for a while when I first started out in radio I know Boston fairly well and really love the city. I like to head to the North End where there are tons of great restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops. This place teems with history and if you know the kind of history nut I am, it’s practically paradise. There’s also a pretty good shopping area and if the weather is nice, walking the esplanade by the Charles River or wandering through Boston Common is great too.
My home town! What’s not to like? Sure I’m biased because I know all the places to go and things to do there. Great food, passionate sports fans, and fun places to spend your evenings. But I do caution: you should ask someone in the know to play tour guide. Otherwise you’re going to the Anchor Bar and that will be about it. PS – I do love the Anchor Bar (it’s where chicken wings came into being!) but I come down on the Duff’s side of the wing battle. I have no problem patronizing either establishment.
This is a great little city in the Canadian Rockies. We’ve managed to find fun little pubs and restaurants tucked into spots here and there. I’ve made some good friends out this way which has helped me see some of the amazing places in the surrounding countryside – I had a great lunch in Canmore! But if you’re a sports fan one of the coolest things to see is Flames Central. It used to be a theater, but the Flames bought it and have turned it into a sports bar. If the Flames are playing you’ll get the very same intro they have in the building, lights and video and music and all. It’s a pretty cool place just to tuck in for lunch and check out the memorabilia too.
Okay, four down, 25 to go. I’ll try to keep this to installments of four or five cities at a time.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
As we were carrying out our SmashMob at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin the other day, it reminded me of a few things.
First of all it took me back to when I was a little kid playing the game. I remember how much I loved being on the ice no matter when it was or for what reason. What it was like to get new gear, even if it was used. The marvel of walking through a fully stocked pro shop that smelled of new wood and leather products. Checking out the latest signature model of gear from names like Gretzky and Kurri or Hextall and Vanbiesbrouck. The bubble hockey machine in the lobby that always had a crowd around it. And a snack bar that I couldn't tell you what it sold but I'm pretty sure I spent my parents' money there.
I set that table for you because I know these kids go through the same things, only the players on their equipment are Crosby and Stamkos, Rinne and Brodeur (and truth be told, Brodeur's gear was popular when I was in HIGH SCHOOL). They have the same excitement to come to the rink at any time, and it will drive them to be as rabid a fan of the game of hockey as I am. As adults they'll go to games, have kids who play, and drag themselves out of bed at 5:30 am for love of the sport. And for two teams on Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators added one more awesome moment to the memory bank.
The idea to take over a youth hockey game spawned almost a month ago, but due to timing and logistics it took a while to find the right opportunity. But when the Predators were finally able to pull it off (and I'm amazed at how well-kept the secret was) it was quite an event. A full color guard presented the Stars and Stripes while Dennis Morgan sang the anthem. Gnash and the dancers were there, inciting the fans to cheer and tossing t-shirts with the ice crew. There was even a drumline leading clapping in between songs from Krazy Kyle and PA announcements from Paul McCann. It was very much a Predators hockey experience writ in miniature – but one that will have long-lasting implications for the families and players who experienced it.
It also made me think about how the game has grown here, even in the five years I've been a part of this organization. Yes, this is the start of my fifth trip around the sun here in Nashville, so it seemed like a good time to reflect. The team itself has made the second round two straight years. Ticket sales were way up again last year. It seems like people have really taken to the gold jerseys and colors. Most of all, I hear people talking about hockey more often than I ever have. And I think it ties firmly into what Nashville is doing even now. While the product on the ice is an NHL hockey team, the front office is made up of hundreds of people who live, work, and play in Middle Tennessee. Sure, we're here in good times and we sing when we're winning. But the organization has done its utmost to stay out in the community and continue to do more even when times aren't that great. We're not going anywhere, and for every single one of us Nashville is home. We will continue to be here, contributing in any way possible. I hope that you may be able to join us or find other ways to support our initiatives, because the community is what we all make of it.
Thanks for staying positive when it's not always easy to do so. Thanks for wearing your Preds gear when you head out. And thanks for realizing that we are all indeed citizens of Smashville.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
There’s so much going on this weekend on the ice!
You heard me correctly, there’s two games this weekend, an adult skills clinic, and a whole lot more going on for you to get your hockey fix.
First of all, Friday night is Guns vs. Hoses, a charity game between local police and firefighters that will raise money for the 100 Club of Nashville. While there is no admission, a suggested $5 donation will be accepted when you enter Bridgestone Arena. Plus you’ll get to see my esteemed colleague Stu Grimson in action tonight! Game time is 6:30 pm with doors at 6 pm.
But wait, that’s not all! If you can’t get enough Stu (and who can?) he’s the driving force behind the Nashville Predators Alumni taking on the St. Louis Blues alumni on Saturday at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin at 5:30 pm. This is the first stand-alone event for the Preds Alumni and you can read all about it right here. J-P Dumont and Dan Keczmer will join Stu on the ice, and just for good measure I’ll actually be playing goal! That should be worth the price of admission right there! Blues alumni squad players include Kelly Chase, Darren Pang, Tyson Nash and Jeff Brown.
Last but not least, there is another adult clinic going on Saturday morning at Bridgestone Arena. Featuring instruction from Preds coaches and staff, the session is sold out for players (but we could use one or two more goalies – you’ll get to work directly with Preds goaltending guru Mitch Korn!). Players will receive a behind the scenes tour of Bridgestone Arena and the Predators locker room area in addition over an hour of on-ice instruction and drilling to help sharpen skills. The goal of these clinics is to help anyone who has picked up the game as an adult become a better player. We heard the feedback from people saying “it’s great that my kids can learn from the Preds, but what about me? I started at 30-something!”. So these clinics are the result of that.
Don’t forget to keep checking back on nashvillepredators.com as we continue to do more things both on and off the ice to enhance the hockey community and the greater Nashville area.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
-- Minor League Hockey Comes To Nashville For Everyone's Enjoyment --
I find it pretty refreshing that this Saturday, the Knoxville Ice Bears and Hunstville Havoc will take to the ice here in Smashville for what promises to be a pretty good tilt. Having spent nine years in minor league hockey, I’m looking forward to seeing my second game of the season (my first was a pre-season Gwinnett Gladiators game in Atlanta).
If you’re thinking about coming down, or maybe waffling a little, here’s some great reasons to check these two teams out:
- Players at the SPHL level are playing because they love the game – not because of money or luxury travel. You really have to want to be there and it shows.
- It’s a different, more physical style of hockey. Guys at this level are trying to prove they not only belong, but can play at a higher level. Most players dream of moving up the ladder in pro hockey and that hunger translates into some intense action on the ice.
- It’s always entertaining because you never know what will happen. Because there tends to be more mistakes made than in an NHL game, scoring opportunities are plentiful.
- Players are fighting for jobs every single game of every single week. The intensity is there.
Come on down and pick a side! Puck drop is at 7 pm and we’d love to have as many people in attendance as possible. Who knows, maybe you could help set an SPHL attendance record!
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to head down to Georgia and watch an ECHL pre-season game between the Gwinnett Gladiators and South Carolina Stingrays (SC won 5-2). The game was staged at the former practice facility of the Atlanta Thrashers, and gave me reason to pause and reflect on several things.
First, it was good to see youth practices going on before the game (and during on the other sheet in the building). There were little reminders of Atlanta’s NHL heritage everywhere: Thrashers stickers on helmets, Flames-bodied jerseys with Thrashers font for names and numbers, etc. Atlanta may have gone through two NHL teams but they do still have the Gladiators and a pretty good buzz around its hockey community. No, I did not see any Jets gear.
Second, it hit me after reading the rosters that I didn’t really know anyone playing on either side except from perhaps the occasional scouting report or article. While the world of hockey is a small one, I also realized that players who are at the ECHL or equivalent level don’t tend to stay in one place very long – or even have long careers. Only a select few players are able to put off getting that real, full-time job in favor of chasing a long career at that level. Most of the players are younger and hungry to try to advance to the next level where the wages are slightly better and you’re at least on the radar for a call-up. The average NHL career is said to be approximately five years – I’m willing to bet that a minor league career can be much shorter on average.
Finally, it reminded me that there are ways to support the sport of hockey itself. Perhaps you play in a local league. If not, you can check out local high school or college action. Knoxville, Memphis, Huntsville, Atlanta and other cities are a short drive away for pro hockey options too. And to that end, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcements on games that will be taking place at our very own Bridgestone Arena. The ice is in, and there will be hockey played on it. How’s that for a tease?
I know this isn’t easy hockey fans, but we can get through it together. Keep your browser pointed here as the Preds do everything they can to keep you entertained and informed throughout.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.