Next time you see a linesman wave a player out of a faceoff circle, instead of just shouting “drop the damn puck”, you might want to consider the circumstances by which it happened. It might not be the linesman’s fault, it could be by design of one of the guys behind the bench.
It is no secret that to be able to coach in the NHL, you have to be a master tactician and also find ways to “bend” the rules in your favor now and then.
I have noticed a trend, at least in Ottawa, that coach Paul MacLean has used at least a few times in the last couple of games to get an advantage after his team is charged with an icing. Obviously they are unable to change their lines after an icing, so MacLean has found a way to get his players an extra 10 or 15 seconds of rest, especially when his team is tired.
On at least two occasions in the past two games, he has sent a winger in to take the faceoff, and get intentionally waved out so that the natural center can then come in to take the draw. It happened in the last game against Pittsburgh, where after an icing Colin Greening, who has taken 40 faceoffs this entire season lined up for the draw, but obviously had no intention of taking. He did his job and got waved out, and a little bit of mock protest earned an extra 10 seconds of rest before Zach Smith stepped in to take the draw for real.
It happened again against Washington on Thursday, where Guillame Latendresse, who has gone 0 for 4 (really, 4 faceoffs?) this season stepped in after an Ottawa icing and showed no desire whatsoever to actually put his stick in place in preparation for the faceoff, and surprise surprise, he was waved out and Kyle Turris stepped in to take (and lose) the faceoff.
How long will it be before this trend becomes league-wide, if it hasn’t already. I haven’t paid that much attention to all of the games to tell if any other team is adding this tactic to their repertoire.
And how long before the league wises up and tries to implement something to curb the behavior, like actually enforcing the hurry-up faceoff rule. Because after all, things like this are way more detrimental to the game than headshots or checking from behind, aren’t they?
As long as rules exist, coaches will be looking for a way around them.