Patrick Elias stalks his prey...

Once upon a time, I played hockey for a coach who was pro-running the goalie. Not all the time, or anything, just as a momentum changer (which I add as a qualifier, like somehow that makes it okay).

He once requested that a teammate of mine flip a puck towards the goaltender, while someone else “goes hard to the net for a rebound,” who should then completely bowl over the helpless keeper without so much spraying a mist of snow. Then, he advised, I want you to turn, drop your mitts and take on the first comer.

Not exactly my style of play.

That said, there is a level of goaltender harassing I am cool with, and I figured that the hockey community should get on the same page with this stuff. I first got thinking that after watching this terrific highlight that I should probably save for the Post-Weekend WTF, but I just can’t wait.

For the record, this is quiiiite a bit across the line, but still fun to watch since no one got hurt.

That’s Patrick Elias basically kneeing Cam Ward in the face in the process of mowing him over like he’s one of those inflatable kids punching bags with sand in the bottom.

So players, goalies: what’s across the line in goalie abuse?

My votes:

Not okay: The example at the top of this post, the video of Elias running Ward, any classic mowing over of a defenseless player. It’s flat-out dangerous, and I don’t care if you think Elias did it on purpose or not in the above video or not, if you’re cruising towards the net you may want to take a peek to see where Gary TonoGear is.

Pic from April 28th, 2009: Patrick Elias runs into Cam Ward. Hmmm….

Okay: The snow spray. I know it’s petty, but goalies, please – it’s not going to take out your eye. And for us players, there has to be some way to annoy the jerk in the pipes if we can’t score. Composed goalies won’t care. Snapshows will be punished. That, I like.

Not okay: Hacking the hand of a covered puck. I played with a guy who loved to just slightly lose the race to a loose puck in the crease so he could get a finger-chop on the opposing goalie. That’s pretty weak, and can mess up a dude’s hand pretty good.

Okay: Everything short of pushing out a goalie’s skates that you can sneak onto the back of his legs IF he’s going to be so aggressive that there’s actually room to skate behind him. It should be a risk of leaving that blue paint (ala Tim Thomas), and therefore his calves should be as up for grabs as mine. Lord KNOWS they’re not afraid to chop back in return.

Not okay: “He’s out of the crease, hit him!” I know that somes goalies (again, like Tim Thomas) like to hit when they get the chance. But the fact of the matter is, most goalies don’t have a sniff how to hit or be hit. They’ve been in the crease their whole lives. Running a guy out there is barely any safer than doing it in the net.

Okay: Backing into the paint. Hey, it’s a tough game, let’s let those tears dry up.

Not okay: “Falling” on the guy after a whistle. Bottom of a dog-pile where humans are wearing knives on their feet probably isn’t a safe place. Just a guess though.

Okay: Any and all verbal abuse. I thrived on this, mostly because all goalies are bad at hockey and deserve to know it. AMIRITE??

So what say you? Am I green-lighting not much, or not enough goalie abuse? What’s your preferred method of goalie annoyance

Comments (24)

  1. To me, depends on the sportsmanship of the goalie….if I’m playing a goalie that uses my legs/nether regions as a punching bag for his stick, and there has been no provocation for such behavior, then I may just sneak in a little cheap shot here or there. Otherwise, if the goalie is in his crease (with an acceptable amount of the usual goalie shananigans), then leave him alone…

  2. I’m with Jeff. Once the cup-check happens, all the “not-okays” turn into “okays”.

  3. Yeah, I’m with you that I usually have to be provoked. Not for the verbal stuff, I’ll initial that, but to actually get physical with a guy.

    Ha, Tony, ALL? That’d be an awesome sequence: *cup check* /two shifts later goalie gets blown through zamboni doors

  4. I would modify the Golden Rule to this situation:

    Do unto the other team’s goalie as you would have them do unto yours.

    If you would get ticked off if the other team did [fill in the blank] to your goalie, then don’t do it to their goalie.

    And as a goalie, one thing that I HATE that you didn’t mention is when my defensemen ride an opposing forward into me or shove/cross-check a forward into me.

    WTF is that?

    • Yah the one thing I’ve never gotten is why your own Dmen will throw a player into their own goalie… I know your job is to knock the player down but seriously pay attention to where you are on the ice.

  5. As a goalie I let the players determine what I would do. If you back into me to the point of bumping me you get a slash to the ankle, you keep bumping me after that I sell a penalty. If you fall on me you get a nice face wash or I use your face to help push myself back up. If you run me well you’re just a douche and my team will take care of you while I try and pull myself back together. Oh and sometimes if you keep hacking my hands you’ll get a blocker to the face and I’ll take the penalty…

  6. as a goalie, i pretty much leave the skaters alone. I don’t mind if you wanna run your mouth, i try to focus on what i am doing at the time. Also, i SUCK at trash talking, so i let my silence and stopping the puck on your feeble attempts speak for me. Also, at my size, i have yet have anyone try to run me but i know that is just because of it being beer league. Snow spray? sure, sometimes its a nice way to help cool down after a frantic session. besides, it is usually seen coming, so the eyes get closed in time. If you back into my crease, i know your doing it to annoy me, so i will push on ya with the blocker in your back to make sure your off balance, but i think that part is fun. Don’t get me wrong, i wont let it annoy me enough to (hopefully) lose track of the puck though. Chopping at the hand? Good way to have SWD ingrained into your calf next time you cross through my crease IF my D-men don’t get to you firest.
    Overall, if your style is to get physical with me, then sure, i’ll get physical back and make sure the ref isnt looking at the time, and make sure he knows about it everytime i get the chance to bend his ear at a stoppage in my zone.

  7. My boy Patty _clearly_ tried to get out of the way. Just not enough height on the hurdle, is all.

    In seriousness, though, I think he was caught off guard that Ward came out that far from his crease for the shot. He’s not the type of guy to run goalies. Interesting side note, Patrick sat out from today’s skate due to “soreness from being old”, per Tom Guilliti of The Record ( Related to this play? Can’t rule it out, can you?

  8. I’m with you guys. If G initiates physicality, then I’m going hard to the net and not stopping until I hit the goal line. But chopping the glove is just dirty.

  9. Were you counting the seconds until I replied to this one? :)

    I feel like I need a whole post to sufficiently comment on this, but the short version is that yeah, I’d say those guidelines are acceptable to me as a goalie.

    I know you skaters like to think you’re important (though nobody will spend frantic hours trying to replace you if you can’t show up for a game).

    My wish is that skaters would just respect the goalie (because it’s not much fun to play without one) until the goalie gives them a reason not to. There’s a line between being playful and being mean. Most people know where that line is, and if they don’t, they’re probably not too worried about it anyway.

  10. Oh and that snow spray thing… whatever. Our rinks are so freaking hot here, it actually feels kinda good. What SUCKS is taking shots from someone who loads a bunch of snow into their shot. Only played against one guy who did that and my eye hurt for 2 days after from the eyefulls of snow I kept getting. Yuck. Don’t think it was on purpose, but man was that annoying.

    • The thing that bugs me the most are people on your own team who take shots when your not ready during warmups. One time I got to the net turned to put my waterbottle on top of the net and the one douchebag took a clapper right into my back. Also this one guy in the league I used to play in would always aim all his shots at the goalies head. Thats just annoying.

      • If I had a dream, it would be to make everyone on my team do 20 pushups for every shot in warmups that goes over the crossbar and to make the guys that kill my water bottle buy me a new one.

        I replaced my Brodeur-esque C/A largely because of my guys giving me stingers in warm ups.

      • That’s BEYOND annoying, Eric. I’d be having a talk (probably a scream) at that guy.

  11. The thing that’s so frustrating about the snow spray is that there’s no way to reciprocate. The whistle’s blown, play’s dead, and your choices are really limited. Any dramatic over-reaction is pathetic, any physical retaliation is asking for a penalty and/or mugging, it’s not worth having one of your guys taking a penalty over, and waiting a few shifts just to get in a love tap on the ankles is too distracting to bother with. Besides, the short term memory of your average goaltender means we’ll have forgotten the license plate by the next whistle.

    I think you’re spot on with this though… I always thought it was more effective to mess with the balance of a guy in front (esp if your d-man is already leaning on him) than to take a real chop. As for trash talking, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Paul Newman set the bar. I always felt a little sorry for Hanrahan…

  12. I forgot another thing that really annoys me and that happened at my last game:

    The guy that takes a slapper waaaaay after the whistle.

    And if there is a chirper on the other team, I love to toss the puck back to him after making a glove save. Want another try, buddy?

  13. If the goalie is really good and is freezing the puck then you should be able to hack away at it, AND, if his defenceman doesn’t like this and pushes you, then you should be able to dive and tackle this goalie when they’re in the butterfly position… almost guaranteeing a season-ending knee injury.

    Just sayin’

  14. Haha, okay, I take back my agreement with anything in this post after reading this:

    For shame, Justin. For shame.

  15. I’m on board with your OK/Not OK’s. But I would like to see a rule that if a goalie leaves the crease, you can play him under the same rules as everyone else. This crap of coming out and using your untouchable status to slow down the play drives me almost as crazy as someone chopping at a goalie’s hand after he has already made the save. Trying to injure anyone in any sport at any level is just wrong.

    (all this assumes the guy isnt a jerk; then all bets are off)

  16. Ha, what a fun topic – all I know is this: I’m hoping very few people follow @Geffman47. Tomorrow’s morning post is his response to this one. We were college opponents, drinking buddies, and pro hockey players together. He’s a beauty.

    • Yeah, I don’t think you’re gonna get lucky with that nobody-follows-@Geffman47 wish…

      I gotta say, I love a good snow spray – of course the people who spray me are lucky if they get a few inches of ice up, at the higher levels I imagine it could be more of an issue.

      I’m also with VX in TN, once I leave my crease I should be a regular player as far as contact goes. I absolutely hate those who stand behind the net filling 90% of the space just dancing with the puck waiting for an opponent to try to grab it and get called for interference. It doesn’t help the game. Start blowing delay of games on those goalies and you’d make me a happy girl.

      BTW, I’ve started following more NHL/AHL/ECHL/OtherHLers because of you, it’s made my Twitter feed such a blast. Thanks Justin.

  17. I’m all for protecting goalies, but once someone on their team starts messing with my goalie, or their goalie starts chopping at out forwards, it is my job as the team’s hardest shot to make sure the goalie knows we don’t like that behavior…head shots are out, unless of course he’s really being a DB, but ringing a bomb past his ear or taking his glove off with a hard slapper is just fine!

  18. When I play goal I talk all the time. I’m not that good, so I’ve got to try to even the playing field some how. Shoot it wide, I’m going to yell “WIDE”. A little “That’s it?” – after a save, of course – goes a long way, I find.

    And the first time some intrepid forward gives my glove a little tap after I’ve trapped the puck, I get as loud as I can immediately. Because, according to USA Hockey anyway, that’s a penalty:

    USA Hockey, official rulesof ice hockey 2011-2013
    Rule 634 (d) Slashing

    A minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who makes
    stick contact with an opposing goalkeeper while he is in his
    goal crease and who has covered or caught the puck,
    regardless of whether or not the Referee has stopped play.

    In fact, as a skater once, I got a ref to overturn a penalty he tried to call on me when I successfully argued that the goalie had not covered or caught the puck before my stick encountered his chest protector as I was trying to knock in the rebound.

    I don’t think goalies need to be hyper-protected. But I like the sentiment that there’s a limit to the amount and overall level of abuse that it is reasonable to throw their way.

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