Zero tolerance for the playoffs

by Steve, March 9th, 2006

hockeyZero tolerance, the calling of all infractions regardless of the situation, is here to stay in the NHL, even as we head down the playoff stretch. So say NHL hockey operations vice-president Mike Murphy and league officiating director Stephen Walkom in an article in Slam! Sports:

“Our motto is to stay the course and the playoff intensity will still be there,” Walkom said. “I don’t look at just one game. I’m very pleased at the way the guys have called it all year. The players dictate whether there will be a lot of calls or not.”

There was much criticism of the number of penalties, especially consecutive penalties leading to 5-on-3 advantages, called during a tense game between Montreal and Toronto Tuesday night. But the league is standing firm:

“We’re in unchartered waters as far as the playoffs go, but we’re not backing off,” Murphy said. “We’ve warned the players and coaches and educated the fans. It only takes a slight tug to prevent a skill player from getting position. Stephen’s mandate is to eliminate that, especially on players moving up and down the ice.

“That job is never completed and I don’t think we’ll ever get it 100% right. But many of the fouls (Tuesday) were earned and the team that won deserved it.”

Other than the grousing about the Leafs-Habs game, everybody I’ve talked to sees zero tolerance as a good thing. Glad to see the league sticking by it.

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