When we started the Thanksgiving weekend, I doubt anyone would have thought that young referee Ghislain Hebert would make much news. After all, I'm not sure Hebert is a household name even in his own household.
Hebert did create a stir, though, when he whistled star Philly D Chris Pronger for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in overtime of Friday afternoon's Flyers-Flames game in the City of Brotherly Love -- wiping out an apparent game-winning goal. It was a newsworthy/controversial call because it was the first time we've seen an enforcement of the "Sean Avery rule."
By the letter of the rule (an amendment to Rule 75 that, by the way, can't be found in the NHL's Official Rules for 2010-11), Hebert's call was wrong. The amendment, issued on April 14, 2008, in response to Sean Avery's unusual distraction techniques against Devils G Martin Brodeur, states; "An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play."
On Friday afternoon, Pronger clearly wasn't facing the goaltender, Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff. Pronger had his back to the goalie, in a normal effort to screen the goalie. However, just as clearly, the wily star did take his hand off his stick and wave it in front of Kipper's face. Less than two ticks later, Mike Richards' shot eluded Kiprusoff. At that point, Hebert waved off the goal and called the penalty.
In the end, I thought Hebert made the right call. In my opinion, the spirit of the rule amendment had been violated. Going forward, the league will have to revise the language of the amendment. It also might want to include it in the rulebook.
Here's the Monday 10.