BRIGHTON, Mass – Count Brad Marchand among those NHL players that don’t like how closely officials are calling face-off violations so far this preseason.
The NHL is cracking down on run-of-the-mill slashing penalties to the arms and hands and calling an excessive number of penalties for forwards “cheating” in the face-off circle prior to the drop of the puck.
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This essentially means the opposing centers taking the face-off can’t be standing or have their sticks on the painted hash marks and instead must stand perfectly still while waiting for the puck to drop. Two consecutive violations of Section 10 of the rulebook will result in a two-minute delay of game: face-off violation penalty. It was called on numerous occasions for the first eight NHL preseason games played on Monday night.
Needless to say, Marchand was watching some games on Monday night while not playing in the first two preseason games for the Bruins and he called the stricter interpretation of the rulebook “an absolute joke.”
“The slashing [penalties] is one thing, but this face-off rule is an absolute joke. That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play all year like that,” said Marchand. “Basically you have to be a statue. You can’t move. It takes away from the center iceman. I think there was even a play [in the game I was watching] last night where a penalty was called on a 4-on-4 before play on the first penalty had even started because of a draw.
“That’s just a joke. I don’t know how you expect guys to step back, guys are excited to get in there and help out there centerman. I know they’re trying to add a little more offense to the game [with power plays] and make it more exciting, but you don’t want to ruin the game. It’s frustrating for everyone. There are ways to make the game better, but this isn’t one of them. We might as well start throwing D-men in there to take draws.”
Marchand did acknowledge that sometimes on-ice officials put an extra emphasis on making a slew of calls in preseason to let players get used to any new enforcement of rules like for face-offs and slashing calls. Perhaps that’s what is going on here. That may be the case in the face-off circle, but it sounds like Marchand is going to be one unhappy camper if the more stringent face-off rules interpretation creeps into the regular season.