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Spezza's infraction: Rule 10.1


In Monday night's Battle of Ontario, Ron Wilson decided that it wasn't just any regular-season game between two teams fighting for the lottery pick. This one was special. So he challenged the legality of Jason Spezza's stick, and was found to be correct in his challenge. Turns out Spezza's blade, which tapers toward the tip, didn't meet league-minimum width of 2 inches. Must... not... make... stupid... joke...

Here's the league's exact phrasing, direct from the rulebook:

"The blade of the stick shall not be more than three inches (3") in width at any point between the heel and ½" in from the mid-point of the tip of the blade, nor less than two inches (2"). All edges of the blade shall be beveled (see 9.6). The curvature of the blade of the stick shall be restricted in such a way that the distance of a perpendicular line measured from a straight line drawn from any point at the heel to the end of the blade to the point of maximum curvature shall not exceed three-quarters of an inch (3/4")."

Something that's come up is why the league even has these rules. I can understand regulations preventing someone from sharpening their stick-blade into a shiv, which is probably the intention of this particular rule, but the curvature limits should seriously be reconsidered. If banana blades help people score, and the NHL wants more goals, why not change the rule?

On the Team 1200 Senators' post-game show, analyst Mike Eastwood hypothesised that at least one player on each NHL team is likely playing with an "illegal" stick, particulary the better players. If that's the case, then the league needs to make a decision: Change the regulations, or mandate stick-checks before every game. A penalty is only as strong as the degree to which it's enforced, and there's no sense looking past a player's infraction 99 per cent of the time, until they're called on it.