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How Do You Like Them Apples? (Alternate Title: Whats The Deal with Assists?)

I was watching Hardcore Hockey the other night, where the hosts were discussing NHL Rule 34.2, which deals with how points are awarded when a goal is scored. The pertinent part of the rule for our purposes reads as follows:

“An assist is awarded to the player or players (maximum two) who touches the puck prior to the goal scorer, provided no defender plays or possesses the puck in between.”

The program showed several clips of goals scored where the attacking team clearly lost possession of the puck, managed to recover, and the recovering players scores a goal. In each instance, two assists were awarded despite the change in possession.

Intrigued by this, I watched both two games on Saturday just to see if I could also spot such an error. In the Calgary-Edmonton game, Craig Conroy scores the 3rd goal for the Flames. On the play, Adrian Aucoin makes a pass to Mike Cammalleri as he skates through the neutral zone. He gains the Oilers zone, loses the puck, gets it back and puts a shot on net, and Conroy buries the rebound. So, you the official tally should read Conroy from Cammalleri, right? Wrong actually, Aucoin was awarded the second assist despite his tenuous connection (thank you, law school) to the play.

Alternatively, on Sunday I watched Game 3 of the Best of 5 USHL playoff series between Fargo and Omaha. Two goals were scored following a recovery by the attacking team, who had been attempting a play prior to losing the puck. In each instance, NO ASSISTS were awarded.

Seeing as how a junior league can get the scoring right and the NHL cannot, is this a case of the NHL directing official scorers to pad stats for players? Are the scorekeepers themselves to blame? Is there a conspiracy afoot? Rule 34.2 allows scorekeepers to use the video replay system to make sure they get the scoring correct, but how often to do you hear an announcement taking away an assist? More often than not the assists are added, or simply changed from one player to the next.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, an extra assist here or there isn’t hurting anyone. But, in the course of a season, those points add up and can be the difference makers when deciding year end awards and bonuses, not to mention next year’s contracts. Should anything be done about this? David Staples often writes about the unofficial assist, should we start giving guys actual points for these and make the system as useless as plus minus?

Your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

The Jets and Moose are both scheduled to practice on Wednesday.

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Check out the full recap from the Jets 5-2 win over the Panther as they concluded the four-game homestand with a 3-1-0 record.

If you couldn't join @ICdrew, @ICEzzyG and @ICdave live on the Illegal Curve Post-Game Show following the Jets win, fear not as you can watch the replay or download the podcast.

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