Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Kings defensemanJake Muzzin
(6) is checked into the Chicago Blackhawks bench by centerMichael Frolik
(67) during the first period in game five of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
- #2: Benches On Opposite Sides Of The Rink
It isn’t a well-known problem just yet, but it could be soon. In the NHL, a typical rink setup has benches beside each other on one side of the rink, and the penalty boxes, as well as timekeeper’s box, on the other. It is done so for easier TV viewing, as you can see both benches from the average broadcast angle as the play is going on. However, scrums with players on both benches have become somewhat of an annoyance to some hockey fans, and even dangerous. Often during a heated game, players will stop at the opposing team’s bench on the way to theirs and exchange words with their rivals. This has caused penalties, scrums, and even brawls. Scrums during the play always escalate when they are beside a team’s bench, with players not in the play getting in there by throwing a few punches, or worse.
During Game Seven of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Western Conference Semi-Final series against the Detroit Red Wings, they appeared to take the lead late in the game with a Niklas Hjalmarsson goal. However, as Brandon Saad was finishing his shift and taking himself out of the play for a line change, he was hit hard by Justin Abdelkader, and then thrown to the ice. Referee Stephen Walkom saw the scrum, and blew the whistle before the goal, resulting in a Bartman-like feel to the United Center. The Blackhawks eventually pulled it out in overtime, much to Walkom’s relief.
The worst suspension in NHL history occured on one of these such plays also. Chris Simon‘s actions netted him a 30-game suspension.
In my hometown of Brandon, Manitoba, the home to the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, the benches are on the opposite sides of the ice from other. It has undoubtedly saved many fights and injuries, and has no effect on the game itself. The NHL should consider this issue as it is potentially dangerous to their players, as you saw above.