Pic from Kingsternet.com

It’s an idea hockey fans have kicked around for awhile – if my memory serves me right, I believe well-respected hockey reporter Bob McKenzie has been a proponent of this for quite some time:

The Swedish Elite League has now made it legal to kick the puck in the net with your skate. All forms of off-the-skate-and-in are permitted, as long as your blade doesn’t leave the ice (for safety purposes). The guy in the picture at the top of this post may want to get that leg down just a touch.

Thanks to Linus Hugosson for the head’s up:

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, and consider whether the NHL should think about doing the same thing in the future.

Pro:

Increased offense: getting the puck in the net with your boot still takes skill, and in a game where we’re always looking to increase the amount of offense, it makes no sense to rule out any type of goal that takes talent.

Con:

The debate simply shifts from “was that a distinct kicking motion?” to “was his blade on the ice the whole time?” We’re going to need ice-level cameras to enforce this one.

Pro:

It opens up a new level of creativity – whether that means incorporating breakaway moves that finish with a kick, or letting a pass get by your stick on purpose only to re-direct it in with your blade, guys have another option now.

Con:

Scrambles in front of the net just got a whole lot less fun for goaltenders trying to cover pucks. The old adage from coaches is that defensemen should “get sticks up” when pucks are loose in front. Suddenly, there’s going to be tied up players trying to go Pele in front on anything near the crease. (Incidentally, the job of d-men just got more difficult.) Who wants their hand stepped on, goalers!?

Pro:

Did I mention it’ll result in more goals?

Personally, I’m a fan of the rule change. I’m thinking in particular about a goal I scored in Hartford that got waved off. We were on a semi 2-on-1, but a backchecker was catching us, me specifically. Right as the pass came across, I got caught, and he lifted my stick. Tied up, I just wanted to get the puck towards the net – maybe there’d be a rebound, maybe it’d go in and they’d count it – so I angled my inside skate, and gave it a toe-flick. It went five hole, we tied the game…then it got waved off. I thought I made a pretty decent play there, and there’s no reason to have that not count.

So what say you? Should the NHL do the same and allow goals off the skate?

Comments (24)

  1. I say no. Kicking is for football and soccer, maybe even rugby if they have people who kick things in rugby. I don’t watch enough rugby to know if they do or not. To me, kicking the puck into the net would be like having a batter catch a pitch and throw it into the outfield for an RBI single, or having lacrosse goals allowed by picking up the ball and winging it into the net. Wouldn’t soccer stop being soccer if players were allowed to throw the ball into the net?

    I understand where you’re coming from with saying that kicking the puck on skates takes talent. It does, but the great thing about hockey says “You’re limited to using this stick to score goals. Be as creative as you can be with it.” Kicking it would ruin the unique character of the game.

    Then again, I’m one of those people who find a hard fought 1-0 game to be more exciting than a 7-6 goalie duel.

  2. youtube highlight clips titled “Every goal scored by Player X in SEL” just became less exciting.

  3. I’d allow it. I don’t think it’ll generate a ton of offense, but I’d love not to have to sit and wait for the “was that a distinct kicking motion” call to come in anymore.

  4. No, I think the point about safety has been severely overlooked. You will have guys with their skates tied up trying to kick at the puck, losing leverage, falling over. You will have players purposely taking the defenseman’s stick (and their own out of the play) as they drive the net, so the goalies will be needing to key off those skates. Fingers, throats….yikes!

    • This was my immediate thought as well. You get tied up in front of the net and now you start using your skate to jam at a free puck? That is just reckless. Goalies are going to get hurt. This is a bad idea.

      • There could be a number of unintended consequences with this one. I am all for more offense. I love the idea of what JB did in his example above. I am scared to death of guys kicking at a puck the goalie is reaching for. Hand, throats etc going up against a sharp skate? That part bothers me.

        • Keep in mind that the blade/skate HAS to stay on the ice for this to happen. So the idea that even more blades are going to flying around in the crease probably isn’t going to happen. I think this rule change benefits the example JB gave. Quick toe or heal kicks to re-direct the puck or that extra little shove during a stopping motion that we so often see. I doubt you will see a whole lot of blades coming off the ice to kick a puck in because, according to the generic explanation of the rule, the blade cannot leave the ice.

          • While yes that may be the case, you also now have to deal with a guy who has his stick in the air, trying to get his foot into a position to kick it (on the ice) but losing his balance and the skate coming up and into harms way.

            Will it be common? Probably not. But why risk it?

  5. My first thought was that defensemen would have a really hard time in front of the net now that tying up the guy’s stick is only half the battle.

    I’m on the fence with this one. The NHL has the luxury though of seeing how it plays out and making decisions after we see what the unintended consequences turn out to be.

  6. Maybe injuries to goalies could be insured against by punishing players with 5 minute penalties whenever the skate is dangerously close to the goalie’s glove? (A 2 minute penalty seems like a risk worth taking for a potential goal) Although that might give the goalie an incentive to fish for a juicy PP by throwing his glove around the forwards’ skates. This might be a problem, so let’s see how the Swedish experiment pans out.

    If safety can somehow be accounted for, I’m all for this idea. Anyone arguing from a traditional standpoint, or drawing analogies to soccer being played by hand etc. needs to remind themselves just how hard it is to control the puck with skates in the first place. Any half-decent athlete has at least a good chance of throwing a ball behind Iker Casillas. How many elite hockey players could kick a puck – without lifting their skate off the ice – behind Henrik Lundqvist? Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Semin won’t be out of a job if this change is implemented, because a stick is still a really useful tool for scoring goals.

    • As a goalie, I can say with confidence that losing a finger and possibly my career far outweighs the benefit of a 5-minute PP. And after my arm was stomped or gashed, I wouldn’t suddenly perk up with the thought that, “Hey, that’s a major, we’re RIGHT BACK IN THIS THING!”

      I also don’t think that it’s as hard as everyone thinks to score with their skates. Remember – the argument in favor is, in part, that it will increase offense. If it was all that hard to do it, then permitting it wouldn’t have the effect everyone is hoping for. Heck, it happens from time to time even though nobody practices it. Once these goals have no danger of being waved off, players will work on finishing in close with deft footwork, and since they work an awful lot on their balance and footwork already just to do everything they do on skates, I think it wouldn’t take long before it became a regular thing. (Remember Todd Bertuzzi losing his stick on one play, and then just saying “Screw it, I’m awesome at hockey” and dribbling the puck on net with his skates – and then scoring?)

    • Alex Semin is going to be out of a job regardless.

  7. Yes, please take power out of Colon Campbell and Murphy’s hands. There arbitrary decisions are often headscratchers.

    I would allow any puck that is shot or passed to be directed in with skate on the ice.

    I would not allow a stationary puck to be kicked in. That should satisfy the people concerned about “safety” or “this isn’t soccer”

  8. I say no to “kicking”, but yes to intentionally deflecting. I’d describe Justin’s story at the end there more as an intentional deflection than “kicking”.

  9. I’ve been saying for awhile they should allow it – how long have they given out assists for kicking/redirecting the puck to a teammate? Applauded players for making extraordinary plays that involved using the skate see Pavel Bure breakway – this will only increase production as well as on ice creativity.

  10. I was kind of on board with this at first, I’ve never really had an issue with kicked in pucks. Like your example, its usually just a guy trying to make a play on the rush after getting tied up. But making it legal would lead to more problems in my opinion. Making it okay for guys to try and kick at the puck in front of the goalie is just a recipe for bad injuries (both for the goalies hands getting amputated and guys being off balance going for kicks then getting drilled).

    Not that this rule would mean everyone is skating around trying to drop kick the puck every play, but it just opens up the possibility for more bad things than its worth.

  11. Yes but not in the crease and as long as we aren’t allowing a full sweep. Maybe add a ‘no windup’ with the blade rule. You can flick your ankle. I’m not really buying the increase in injuries argument. People kick the puck along the boards all the time without anyone getting hurt. I also don’t think it will make a big difference in front of the net. If someone gets all kicky they will lose all leverage and get pushed away from the net. I’d think most of the goals will come from situations like Justin’s.

    • Pavel bure tried to kick a puck along the boards, stepped on it, and now he’s gone…. interesting he’s the main reason for pros and cons.. best hockey player everrrr

      • why did my reply go here?.. man i need to work on this whole english / computer knowledge shit

  12. I’m a goalie and I have to say this one makes me nervous as well. Maybe a compromise is keeping the rule as it stands now inside the crease, but allowing redirects or (non-windup) kicks outside the paint.

    Having said that, you’d also have to make sure players didn’t get the bright idea of trying to dig at a puck with their skate instead of their stick when it’s frozen outside the paint.

  13. Bad idea. Skate blades have to stay on the ice. As anyone who’s been to the box would know: you have to keep your stick down, not interfere, punch, fight, etc.

    Bad idea.

  14. As a dirt bag who sits in front of the net most of the time, I love this rule change! Now how do we defend against it?

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