Drew Doughty’s play in Phoenix is helping shape NHL rules

As the Kings headed into the 2012 playoffs, defenseman Drew Doughty repeatedly promised to be on his best behavior – admitting that in the two prior years he let his emotions get the best of him during the post-season. This time around, he was committed to reducing the chirping and increasing the focus.

Things moved along swimmingly through the early going too.

First, the Kings knocked off the Canucks – a team Doughty puts his hatred for at a 10 on a 1-to-10 scale. There were no major issues in the series though.

Next, LA swept the St. Louis Blues. Again, model citizen.

However, during the ensuing five-game series with the Coyotes, you could slowly start to see cracks in the dam. Finally, it burst, about ten minutes into overtime of Game 5 when Doughty was whistled for interference…

But, was his displeasure with the call justified?

It depends who you ask. Several players at the time said they didn’t see it as a penalty.

Yet, three months later, the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department gathered a panel of NHLPA representatives, general managers, coaches and referees to review the standards used by on-ice officials.

They largely covered eight rules, including Interference.

When all was said and done, they issued the following statement about how Rule 56 should be called:

The consensus was that defenders should be allowed to engage/bump/hit an attacking player “immediately” after they released the puck on a dump in, but would be expected to release the attacker and pursue the puck or retreat to the slot following this initial contact. The same standard would be applied regardless of whether or not the attacking player was knocked down. Various time and space guidelines were discussed. However, it ultimately was decided that the “immediacy” of the contact had to be a determination made by the officials on a case by case basis. The measuring stick of 1/2 a second, occasionally used by Hockey Operations/Player Safety to determine lateness, was also mentioned as a guideline.

Pouring salt in the wound perhaps was the fact they used the Doughty penalty shown above as one of the specific examples in their accompanying video (shown here) and stated:

1) Example 1 Doughty on Whitney. It was determined that the initial bump had been immediate in this instance, but that a penalty was warranted because the defender had failed to release his opponent and elected to take an indirect route to the puck in order to impede the attacker.

Per the NHL, it was in fact a ‘by the book’ penalty.

Regardless, the Coyotes didn’t score on the power play.

So, instead of that one simple infraction becoming the turning point in the series – and the moment everybody remembered – it’s largely been forgotten about.

Well, except by the rules committee.

Others who watched that game are largely still talking about a play that took place about seven minutes later.

Let’s get into that one a little more next hour.

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  1. Bad decision by the NHL if they’re using that BAD CALL as an example of a proper interference penalty.

    Doughty wasn’t able to “release his opponent” because his stick was being held the whole time!!!