Rule 99 lives again
This year, an addendum to Rule 56, known as the Sutter Rule, was implemented taking aim at late game instigator penalties. It reads, in it's entirety:
(NEW for 2005-06) A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime, shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major for fighting, a ten minute misconduct and an automatic one-game suspension. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. In addition, the player's coach shall be fined $10,000 -- a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.(NEW for 2005-06) (NOTE 1) No team appeals will be permitted either verbally or in writing regarding the assessment of this automatic suspension.
The NHL has made it clear that this penalty cannot be appealed, and made a sizeable issue out of this rule before the season began in it's misguided attempt at eliminating fighting from the game.
Two nights ago, this rule was to be put to the test for the first time, as Coyotes forward Shane Doan took an instigator at the end of a game filled with dirty hits. The rule makes it clear: Doan was to be suspended for one game, and the coach to be fined $10,000.
Except the coach in question is Wayne Gretzky.
Suddenly Colin Campbell decided that this rule is not as simple as it seems, and though it is not mentioned anywhere in the rule book, he now has discretion on whether to hand out the penalties. Campbell's excuse was that Doan isnt a goon, therefore the rule should not apply to him.
You think Campbell wouldnt have thought twice about the suspension and fine if it was Jarome Iginla and Darryl Sutter in question?
How about Mark Bell and Trent Yawney?
The NHL found itself caught in the embarrassing position of having to fine it's most notable personality for a rule it felt was extremely important four months ago, and somehow found an even more embarrassing excuse to avoid living up to it's own rules.
But then, there always was one rulebook for Gretzky, and one for everyone else.