Last night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks saw a goal disallowed that could have decided the game earlier than the third overtime period: I am, of course, referring to Andrew Shaw’s headbutt goal, where the puck was in the air, and he moved the top of his helmet to bash the puck inside the net.
Why was the goal disallowed? As stated in Rule 78.2 on the official NHL Rules, “A “goal” shall be credited in the scoring records to a player who shall have propelled the puck into the opponent’s goal.” To break that down: it must be a player, and there must be some sort of propulsion of the puck, across the opposing goal line.
To further support Shaw’s case; a subsequent rule, 78.4 states that: “If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. The player who deflected the puck shall be credited with the goal.” An argument can be made that his intentional headbutt was a deflection of the puck into the opposing net, as a deflection is a change of trajectory of a moving object. While the argument may have some traction in a court of law under technicalities; there are other rules that can and were used in order to invalidate Shaw’s goal.
Earlier in the text of rule 78.4, “A goal shall be scored when the puck shall have been put between the goal posts by the stick of a player of the attacking side.” While the rule does go on in further detail about what constitutes a good goal; the following rule, 78.5 gives the grounds under which a referee may disallow a goal. Of particular importance to this situation, subsection (i) of the rule: “When the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.” While the headbutt was absolutely remarkable and redirected beautifully, by definition, it is in direct violation of rule 78.5 (i), therefore it was rightfully disallowed.
Andrew Shaw recognized the violation of the rule, and was reportedly lighthearted about the situation (as winning a crucial game can often do), stating that “maybe the Premier League will be scouting me;” and in all honesty, it was a goal worthy of world class soccer; but it does not belong in hockey.