Ryane Clowe was caught on camera and by the thousands of officials in the stands on Thursday night with pulling one of the craziest stunts you'll see in an NHL game. He stuck his stick (watch it again here) onto the ice from the bench while a Kings rush up ice was developing and interrupted the play.
Who didn't see it? The two referees who could have called a penalty on the play.
Even though the Sharks won the game in a shootout to pull even with the Kings in points on the season with one game against each other remaining on Saturday, the story after the game was all about Clowe. I mean who throws a shoe, honestly (or something like that)?
Naturally Clowe denied it with a wry smile he was trying to suppress. But the money quotes? Who'd a thunk it would be Darryl Sutter? Have a listen.
Sutter was dumbfounded as he had never seen it before. He knew it had to be a penalty, but which one? Try Rule 56.2. Here is the clause on interference that pertains.
A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players' bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play. In addition, should a player about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are still on the players' or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference shall be assessed.
"If the officials had seen the actions of Ryane Clowe it would have definitely been a two-minute interference penalty," Colin Campbell told Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times. "It was obviously a missed call."
People are angry. It's a blatant interference from the bench that just looks really bad on the game, especially if it wasn't penalized. Some have found it so egregious that they think Clowe should face supplemental discipline.
"I don't see why he shouldn't [get suspended]," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after the game. "To me, that's like a guy running down the football field and a guy comes out and tackles him to keep him from getting a touchdown. I don't see how this is any different. Maybe the refs didn't see it, but I wouldn't blame them full-out. It's hard to see things like that, especially a stick reaching over the bench."
But the problem is this is just like any other minor penalty that goes uncalled in a game. It was just simply missed. There is no recourse. This one just seems worse than your average hook in open ice that doesn't result in a whistle.
Will this be addressed this summer? I'd bet a lot of money it will. If the penalty for interfering like that is just two minutes you could see more teams employ it strategically if it were appropriate. There has to be more of a deterrent.
But for now? There's nothing.