Tell Me About 'The Crease' In Hockey

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by James Edward, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    I've been meaning to ask about this for a while...

    At my prior job, a co-worker was talking about his goalie friend, and how he would physically attack anyone that went into his crease. This all seemed ok with the people he was talking to; they were nodding their heads in approval, and recounting their own tough-guy crease stories. I don't recall the specifics, but it all seemed way over the top.

    It seemed a little wacky to me, so I kept my mouth shut, and figured I would ask here about it. What gives?

    This took place a while ago, so if my terminology is incorrect, just ignore this post.
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    The crease is the area just outside the goal marked by a semi-circle (it used to be a rectangle) and colored light blue in the NHL. Goaltenders consider this area their "turf", and they (and their defenseman) will go to extremes to keep opposing players out of the area. Offensive players are not supposed to enter the area, by rule, unless the puck enters the crease. However, some guys love to park themselves in front of the goalie to screen him.

    NHL goalies who were notorious for hacking away at opponents that came anywhere near their crease were Billy Smith (four Stanley Cups with the Islanders) and the Flyers' Ron Hextall.

    For a couple of years the NHL had a very strict "no crease" rule for offensive players, where goals were disallowed if any offensive player was in the crease when a goal scored, even if he was not interfering with the play. The NHL had instant replay review during this time (they still do), and many goals were overturned because a player had his toe in the crease. In fact, the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup winning goal against Buffalo was scored with Brett Hull's toe barely in the crease, and should have been disallowed based on how the NHL was enforcing the rule at that time.

    The league has gone back to their more traditional (and sensible, IMO) manner of enforcing the rule, where the referee's judgement is used to determine whether the player is actually interfering with the play while in the crease before a goal is disallowed. I saw too many goals overturned during the couple of years of strict "no crease" rule enforcement where the skater was nowhere near the goalie or play, but his toe was in the crease.
     
  3. Kris McLaughlin

    Kris McLaughlin Stunt Coordinator

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    Good explanation, Scott!
    Let me add a couple points: When they were enforcing the more draconian version of the rule, not only would they disallow the goal if any part of a foot/toe/skate/lace was in the crease, they would actually give you a minor penalty as well. I was glad when they changed that, I think it makes much more sense now.

    As a side note, the goaltender should be (but isn't yet) fair game when he's outside his crease. It kills me to see guys like Marty Turco leaving his crease to play the puck (which is fine), and actually throwing hits while they're wandering (which is not fine, since any attempt to defend yourself or hit back will get you a quick trip to the box, no questions asked)!

    I think the rule will change in the next few years so that the goalie can be hit like anyone else if he decides to leave the crease.
     
  4. BobV

    BobV Second Unit

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    There is a rule coming onto the books (not there yet, but endorsed by everyone that matters) that if the goalie goes behind the goal line it is an automatic 2 minute penalty. I like that [​IMG]
     
  5. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    I can't count how many times Edmonton Oiler forward Ryan Smyth had goals disallowed because of a rogue toe in the crease...

    A huge cry of relief went up in the city the day they axed this rule. It was ridiculous. The whole Stanley Cup fiasco over it was the nail in the coffin for the rule and in some ways I'm glad of the uproar just for that reason.

    I remember Ronnie "Haxtall" when I was a kid and the Oilers and Flyers finals in the 86 - 87 Stanley Cup. Remembering the fans in Northlands chant his name brings back some fond memories [​IMG]
     
  6. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

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  7. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    May I humbly offer Mr. Billy Smith of the 4 time Cup champion N.Y. Islanders. You could always tell which opposition players had full dental, or a death wish; they were the ones who tried to get into the crease when 'battling Billy' was in goal. Talk about 'back in the day', man I'm getting old [​IMG]
     
  8. DavidMich

    DavidMich Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott you are dead wrong about the Brett Hull goal that won the Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars. It was reviewed over and over, and his skate was clearly not in the crease.

    You must be a Buffalo Sabres fan.....and one with sour grapes at that.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Not a Sabres fan here. In fact, I have an autographed Guy Carbonneau Stars jersey hanging in my basement rec room. Being a Canadiens fan, I was pulling for the Stars that year with all those ex-Habs -- both on and off the ice. Gainey and Carbonneau were both favorites of mine when they played with the CH on their chests. In spite of that, I still think Hull was in the crease. [​IMG]

    The jersey was a gift from Stars president Jim Lites, who my wife knew -- she used to work with his brother.
     

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