Wednesday, October 5, 2011

‎6.1.4 Intentional, negligent, or reckless illegal contact to the back of an opponent, back of an opponent’s legs, or back of an opponent’s booty.

This rule is a Back Blocking expulsion. Expulsions for Back Blocks are defined in the rules as:

The following egregious acts will be automatic game expulsions, and can be punished as a multi-game suspension (see Section Expulsions will be issued for a conscious, forceful attempt to block an opponent in the back egregiously, whether or not the action was successful."

Now the tricky part when it comes to expulsions is the inclusion of the word "intentional". After, aren't a lot blocks intentional? And some of them are minors, and others are majors. This also ties in to another point sometimes made by some that when making a call referees are not to judge intent. Well the existence of "intentional" makes it impossible to not judge intent. That being said, intent must be clear, not inferred. Unless a referee is absolutely 100% certain of the intent of a skater they must defer to:

9.3.3 If the referee is in a position where intent must be inferred but is not clear, she/he must presume legal intent.

So how does this all tie in to back block expulsions? Intentional back blocks may be called as expulsions, but the impact of the block must merit the expulsion. What that means is that if a skater pushes another skater from behind and the receiver doesn't lose relative position or go down or out of bounds, but the block was clearly intentional (such as you might see before a fight for example), then an expulsion may be warranted. A block such as my example may not be considered fighting, but certainly impactful enough to be considered an expulsion as intentional.

Further today's rule calls for expulsions for reckless and negligent blocks to the back. An example of that would be a Jammer who sees a stopped wall of opponents ahead of her and plows into the back of one at full speed. That could be considered negligent and/or reckless. If a block to the back is worthy of an expulsion, chances are the referees will know it when they see it, as will most anyone else watching the game.