The best moment of last night’s triple-OT Blackhawks win didn’t even count. Andrew Shaw’s headbutt goal in the second overtime was waved off, quite possibly for being too awesome to process at 1 in the morning. Things worked out in the end for Chicago, but did we and future highlight reels really need to be deprived of this:
I think everyone’s brain just kind of locked up for a second—or maybe we all just wanted it to be a good goal so badly—because no one immediately spoke up and said, “hey, this obviously isn’t going to count.” The rule is crystal clear:
Disallowed Goals – Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons:
(i) When the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.
It’s the same rule that only allows goals that deflect in off skates if there isn’t a “distinct kicking motion,” so Shaw’s crime was in being cool on purpose. And he thinks that should count for something:
“Yeah I understand [the rule], but I think if anyone can ever pull that off it should still be a goal,” Shaw said. “I mean, at that point you react in the moment and try to get it in.”
It’s not a goal, and it’ll probably never be a goal, and Shaw will have to continue to look upon Henrik Lundqvist’s header skills with envy. But—and this is a dumb question, but it’s the very smartest sort of dumb question—what would be so bad about letting players use their heads? Or their skates, or knees, or any other part of their body? There’s concern about NHL scoring being down, and rather than mess around with goal sizes or pad sizes or stricter penalty enforcement, why not expand a player’s option for putting a puck in net?
ESPN’s Craig Custance, coincidentally, was just discussing this.
It’s purely a philosophical question. Hockey gets too far away from hockey when it’s a giant scrum in front of the net and you give players no incentive to keep their sticks on the ice rather than just try to body the puck on goal. And there are very good safety reasons not to encourage the men with razor-sharp blades on their feet to kick at things.
Still, it’s hard not to get wistful over what might have been. Godspeed, Andrew Shaw’s Header Goal: you were too beautiful for this world.