Tuesday, December 17, 2013 The rules do not define pack speed. Illegally destroying the pack penalties shall not be given for gradually deviating from the speed of the pack as established through game play, unless said deviation is sudden, rapid, and marked, leaving the opposing team no opportunity to adjust and maintain a pack.

Today's rule comes from the Out Of Play section. This is the rule that determines if a pack destruction is illegal. In other words, these are the criteria for illegal destruction., of which today's rule is a subrule, gives guidelines on which actions may become illegal destruction, while today's rule gives the criteria by which those actions must be judged. After all, even if the destruction of the pack happens intentionally, such as by one team slowing down or speeding, if the action that causes the destruction doesn't meet these criteria, then the destruction is not illegal. There are very specific instructions in this rule. Gradual deviation from the pack speed is not a penalty, unless the deviation is all of the following:

1) Sudden
2) Marked
3) Rapid
4) Leaves the opposing team no opportunity to adjust and maintain a pack

It is absolutely important to note that the action that causes the destruction - not the actual destruction itself - must be ALL of those, not just one or two of them. As I mentioned, it is very important to remember that it is isn't the destruction that must meet those criteria for it to be a penalty, it must be the deviation from the established pack speed that must meet those criteria. After all, anytime there is a pack and then no pack, it happens instantly, at ten feet (or more accurately when a referee determines there to be no pack). So, the mere moment of pack destruction is always going to be sudden. That is why the action which causes a no pack is to be judge by these criteria. For example, if both teams are skating counterclockwise and the foremost blocker from the team in rear does a quick stop, that results in a no pack, then that action has met the criteria for illegal destruction. The stop is sudden (without warning), marked (something able to be seen by refs), rapid (very quick), and leaving the opposing team no opportunity to maintain a pack (because the stop and resulting destruction happens so quickly, and without warning). However, if the foremost blocker from the team in rear stop skating but continues to coast from the established pack speed, then the action which causes the pack destruction will end up being that blocker coasting and the front team skating away. The coast may or may not be sudden (depending on interpretation), it will certainly be marked, but it won't be rapid (a coast, by nature, is slow), and it leaves the opposing team the opportunity to maintain a pack (by slowing down as well). Since this action only meets two of the four criteria, it is not a penalty.

It is also important to note that merely skating clockwise that results in a destruction is NOT always a destruction. Actions made while moving clockwise must be judged against the criteria for illegal destruction just like actions moving counterclockwise, or even actions while not moving at all. So, if the front team is standing still, and the rear team skates backwards slowly, that isn't always destruction. It may be, but it may not be. Similarly, Just because a team in front is skating forwards and the team in rear is standing still doesn't necessarily mean it's always an illegal destruction when the pack is destroyed. If the team in rear is playing passive offense, and their jammer is pushing the opposing team forwards, chances are the action which causes the destruction will be marked and rapid, but will likely not be sudden, and more than likely the team in rear will have the opportunity to adjust and maintain a pack. Their unwillingness to do so doesn't mean they don't have the opportunity. Each scenario must be judged appropriately.