Breaking the rules: NHL (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday July 25, 2007 12:07PM; Updated: Wednesday July 25, 2007 2:04PM
"The good thing about it [is] that it [is] up to the discretion of the other team. They have to call [for a stick measurement]. It's not something where the ref could see your stick's illegal and call a penalty on it. Everyone knows who's cheating, but most of the [coaches] with class and any kind of integrity would never call it. To me, everyone knows it's a terrible rule, so if you need to do that to win a game or get back in the game, it's [garbage]. "
Beyond the illegal curves, the general perception is there aren't a lot of ways to cheat in hockey, but there are a few. The face-off circle is the site of many of them.
"I wasn't a centerman, but everyone tries to take every advantage they can on the draws," Hull says. "Whether it's getting across the line and being over on top of the dot so the other guy can't get in there, or moving to one side so you've got much more leverage to work it to your strong side as opposed to being square like you're supposed to. A good centerman is always going to cheat. I think that's where the expression 'If you're not cheating, you're not trying' comes in."
Another area ripe for transgression is goaltender equipment. Although goalies are subject to spot checks to ensure they're not exceeding the prescribed sizes for pads and gloves, the equipment isn't vetted on a nightly basis. And that leads to speculation that some goalies, especially those who are so tough to beat, are still playing a little fast and loose with the rules.
"[Jean-Sebastien] Giguere's equipment in the Finals still looked a little suspect to me, but I'm not one to know really," Hull said. His sentiments were echoed by a member of the Ottawa Senators, the team beaten by Giguere's Ducks in the Finals. "I know it sounds like sour grapes, but he looked huge out there, didn't he?"
Hull, who spent 18 years in the league, saw a lot of things that might not have been cheating, but were clear cases of players looking outside the boundaries to grab an edge.
"I played with Craig Ludwig, who was a defenseman with the Stars, one of the greatest shot-blockers in the history of the game," he said. "You know how the shin pads have the plastic that wraps around your legs? I don't know how he did it, whether he melted it or what, but he took the wings and flared them out, so instead of them wrapping around his legs, they were wider and flat, like mini goalie pads. I don't think there's a specific rule about what your shin pads look like, but that was his edge."
"I remember the guys in Detroit in the early '90s; they had a guy that would reinforce their wood sticks with fiberglass, so when they slashed you those things didn't break and it hurt. And in the old days, they used to use friction tape -- we call it Gordie Howe tape now -- so when they'd hook you, it would stick, it hung there pretty good. Now the tape just slides off you, but it doesn't really matter. They call hooks for nothing these days, so the last thing you want is tape that makes a hook look worse!"