Monday, August 26, 2013

6.14.2 Willfully failing to leave the track for a penalty.

Today’s rule is an Insubordination major penalty. This rule sums up the most common Insubordination penalty. The opening paragraph of section 6.14 starts with this sentence:

“Insubordination penalties will be given for actions which demonstrate a disregard for the authority of the referees and officials, whether intentional or not.”

Effectively, this means not doing what the referees tell you to do. Now, that is a very vague interpretation, and should not be used as reasoning to enforce Insubordination rules. However, the concept is there. Referees and officials are there to ensure that safety is being considered during a game, and to make sure the rules are being followed. Part of that task is issuing penalties when a rule is broken. At other times referees may issue other instructions to maintain the integrity of the game, and (within reason) these instructions must be followed as well.

Today’s rule penalizes a skater who willfully disregards a referee’s instructions to leave the track and report to the penalty box. Rule 7.2.3 reads “When a skater is sent to the penalty box, the skater must immediately exit the track and skate to the penalty box in the counter-clockwise direction.” If a skater doesn’t do that, then they may be issued an Insubordination penalty. It must absolutely be noted that this rule says “willfully failing to leave the track”. That means that if a skater has not heard the referee call a penalty on them, and they fail to leave the track, it is not a willful failure. This is not an unheard of event, especially in venues with large, loud crowds. However, if a skater is called for a penalty, and they turn to the referee in recognition, but then continue playing the game, then they have willfully failed to leave the track. That is one of the common types of actions that would be penalized by this rule. Another common action that would fall under this rule is when a skater is called for a penalty, and rather than leave the track immediately, they turn to the referee and protest the call. Most often, the skater will then leave the track, sometimes even before the referee feels compelled to repeat the penalty call. However, even the mere act of turning to the referee and protesting is a willful failure to leave the track, because it is not immediately exiting the track, as is required by 7.2.3. It is because of this rule why skaters are trained by their leagues/teams to accept a referee’s call and just head to the penalty box, and have their captain or designated alternate speak to the head referee if they are sure the call was made erroneously. Pretty much any referee will tell you that they have rarely, if ever, overturned their own penalty call because a skater protested instead of going to the penalty box. Rather, most referees will tell you they have issued Insubordination penalties for that very action, per today’s rule.