Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Let’s play “spot the interference” with old NHL clips, the world’s easiest game

Interference is a bit of a dirty word in today’s NHL. Most fans hear it and immediately think about goals being reviewed for goaltender interference, a rule that plenty of us still don’t understand (even though we should). But even outside the crease, it’s a very dicey concept, one filled with grey areas and interpretations. Sometimes it gets called. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it decides a Game Seven, but who’s counting. The point is that nobody can really agree on what exactly it means or how it should be enforced.

Back in the olden days, we had a solution to this problem: We just completely ignored the whole concept.

Look, I didn’t say it was a good solution. In fact, it quite clearly wasn’t. But we apparently didn’t know any better.

Don’t believe me? Let me introduce to one of my favorite time-killing rabbit holes. It’s a little game I like to call “Dig up pretty much any old hockey clip from the 80s or 90s and spot the uncalled interference”. The name might need work, but it’s fun. And it’s what we’re going to play today.

Let’s find some memorable moments from the era, and then go looking for the insanely obvious interference that doesn’t get called. Was the game better that way? Is there a lesson to be learned here? Am I making some larger point? Not really, but it’s an excuse to watch old YouTube clips in late-August, so let’s grab some popcorn and put away the whistles.

Mario’s Canada Cup winner

OK, it’s not technically an NHL moment, but we may as well start with what has to be the most famous example of the genre.

The goal: It’s the third and deciding game of the 1987 Canada Cup final, and Canada and the Soviets are tied at 5-5 late in regulation. Canada sends out its super-line of Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Dale Hawerchuk for a defensive zone faceoff, and within seconds they’re heading down the ice on a 3-on-1 that leads to the most famous goal of Lemieux’s career.

But wait: How did that innocuous breakout turn into a 3-on-1? And where did Hawerchuk go, since it’s actually Larry Murphy who jumps up to become the third man in the rush?

As it turns out, those two questions are related, as we see in the replay. Hawerchuk is right with Lemieux when the rush starts, but then decides to peel off and pitchfork the only backchecking Russian who has a chance at catching Mario. He’s not even subtle about it, he’s just like “No, I don’t think you’ll be participating in this play, down you go, comrade”. And on behalf of Canadian hockey fans, we were all completely fine with it and agreed to never mention this whenever this play gets brought up.

David Volek ends the threepeat

With the 1993 Penguins looking for a third straight Cup, they’re facing the Islanders in a surprisingly tough series. It’s Game 7, and after a furious late comeback to force overtime, it’s next goal wins. And that goal is about to happen.

The goal: After an offensive zone turnover, the Penguins surrender a 3-on-2. Ray Ferraro gets the puck across to David Volek on the 2-on-1, and he buries it past Tom Barrasso to end the series.

But wait: Gee, that 3-on-2 suddenly turned into a 2-on-1, how did that happen?

The answer involves the third Islander, who I’m pretty sure is Derek King. He’s the guy who starts the play with a step on the second Penguins’ defenseman, only to get blatantly hooked out of the play. (Hooking was also completely legal back then.) Like a savvy veteran, King realizes that the Penguin is going to try the old “waterski slingshot” move, so he does the smart thing: He just stops skating. Seriously, watch him – he just stops moving, forcing his opponent to run into him so he can’t get back into the play. He’s basically looking over his shoulder at the guy the whole time.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment