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Sharks mad at NHL officials for using rule book

This is pretty rich.

NHL: MAR 20 Blues at Sharks Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last night, Patrick Marleau was kicked out of the faceoff circle and had a faceoff violation delay of game penalty called on him. The resulting power-play led to a Ryan O’Reilly goal and - in the mind of Sharks coach Bob Boughner - the Blues complete victory.

Never mind that his team could’ve defended better on the penalty kill. Never mind that O’Reilly scored his goal at 4:22 into the third period to put the Blues up by one, meaning that the Sharks had over 15 and a half minutes to tie the game and potentially win.

No, that one call sank the team.

Here’s what the NHL Rule Book, in rule 76.6, says about the delay of game penalty for a faceoff violation:

“If a center should move prematurely prior to the face-off,

or if the Referee or Linesman shall have dropped the puck unfairly, the face-off shall be considered a face-off violation and it must be conducted again.

“When at least two face-off violations have been committed by the same team during the same faceoff, this team shall be penalized with a bench minor penalty to the offending team. This penalty shall be announced as a “Bench Minor Penalty for Delay of Game – Face-off Violation.”

That’s what happened, and you can tell that’s what happened, because the Sharks weren’t complaining about the call itself, but that the call was made.

Here’s Boughner’s take:

“Just a horrible call. I guess he spun too early or something? I don’t know. I’ve watched it three times. It’s completely fine. It’s Patty Marleau by the way. The guy’s going to set Gordie Howe’s (games played) record and you threw him in the box and it affected the whole game. Just use your head.

“It’s frustrating for me and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. But what went on there was a travesty.”

Ok, so because a player’s old (no offense to Marleau, but he’s no spring chicken), and because your team’s penalty kill screwed up, a delay of game penalty shouldn’t’ve been called on him. A+ logic.

What about goalie Devan Dubnyk?

“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “It’s Mickey Mouse. I don’t care if you want to say ‘follow the rule book.’ It’s completely ridiculous to make a call like that in a 2-2 hockey game in the third period in the middle of the season. I don’t know what to say. It’s incredible.”

So the rule exists, but it should only be followed in certain situations. Ok, got it. That shouldn’t cause any problems for rule reinforcement at all.

That this is coming from a team that benefited from a missed hand pass call in a way that nearly affected the outcome of a playoff series is hilarious. However, the Blues regrouped and bounced back as soon as they could to turn that missed call into a footnote. They had to wait two nights to do it, but it was done.

The Sharks couldn’t re-group after O’Reilly’s goal. That sounds more like a team issue, not an issue with the officials following the rule book. Hold yourselves accountable, not the refs. That’s what the Blues did in 2019, and that’s why they won their playoff series against San Jose.