NHL rule 49.2 states that a goal shall be disallowed if it is scored with “a distinct kicking motion.” Such was the case for Dominic Moore and the pressing NY Rangers with a couple of minutes left in the 1-0 loss to the LA Kings. The rule actually used to be different; no goal counted if the puck merely went in off a skate. That this was modified before provides hope that the rule can be reviewed again.
Why is scoring with your skate a problem to begin with? Let’s try and breakdown the arguments for and against.
-The game integrity argument: hockey is a game played on skates with sticks. Passing and shooting is done with the stick; any other method is not in the nature of the game.
-The counter argument: Skates are a unique part of the game. Kicking at the puck to pass it is allowed; and is often done when a player has lost his stick or, it is being held or tied up, as was the case with Moore in the crease. Kicking will never become a preferred way to score; it produces a very weak shot.
-The injury argument: having players kicking about with their skates may lead to more injuries.
-The counter argument: Again this concern doesn’t stop players from being able to kick at the puck in all other circumstances. Kicking in front of the net is no different than kicking along the boards or in open ice. Perhaps it is even safer in the crease with a goalie’s heavy padding.
-The feet are like your hands argument: players cannot pass the puck or score by hand (this too has been modified to include hand passes in the defensive zone). With the stick is how to pass and score.
-The counter argument: the feet are incased in a boot attached to a blade; there is no such hand control possible. Skating being a natural part of the game requires special skill for balance and kicking. Use of hands is not a unique feature to hockey, with no special throwing skills required. (This is an argument against using the hands to score.)
Further arguments for being allowed to kick the puck in: in an era when the league is constantly trying to increase scoring, allowing kicked in goals can only help. Imagine how exciting it would have been if Moore had tied up the game with minutes left? (Yes, for the Ranger fans!) Again, it will never be a frequent way to score; it is neither controllable nor lethal the way a good shot can be. Determining what is a “distinct kicking motion” and what is not is also highly subjective. JT Miller had one disallowed earlier in the season against the Flyers that appeared to go in off his skate with perhaps just a bit of direction given to the puck. The home opener against Montreal saw just such a goal allowed for the opposition. I say it either goes in off your skate or not. Just allow them all!
If I am missing a relevant argument I’d like to know.