National Hockey League Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell issued an “on the fly” interpretation of Rule 75: Unsportsmanlike Conduct:

“An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty (Rule 75) will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender’s face for the purpose of interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play.”

I suppose the New Jersey Devils organization can enjoy a collective pat on their own backs for gaining some measure of “revenge” over the NHL’s adoption of the so-called “Martin Brodeur Rule” that limited a goaltender’s ability to play the puck and introduced the trapezoid to rinks across the NHL.

Leave it to everyone’s favorite lightning rod, Sean Avery, to force the NHL to awaken from the coronation of Sidney Crosby so they could overreact to Lou Lamoriello’s lamentations.

Before everyone starts piling on Avery, I suggest that you review the play in its entirety. Go ahead, I will wait.

Thank you for coming back. If you watched the play closely that Avery NEVER touches Brodeur. However, the Jersey netminder clearly nails Avery in the “junk” with his stick and also throw a punch at the uber-pest.

To their credit, the Rangers are staying focused on the task at hand. Steve Zipay of Newsday reported that someone close to the Rangers organization said that Chris Drury was not admonishing Avery; rather he was relaying the referee’s instruction to lower his stick – which Avery did.

As expected, Brendan Shanahan’s comments were directed at the league’s reaction as opposed to the play – something that is expected given Shanahan’s position on the Rules Committee.

“Show me the rule book,” Shanahan stated. “What’s the rule? If they’re going to change a rule in mid-season, they need a 30-0 vote of the Board of Governors.”

However, it seems that the Devils will not let the event play itself out without a comment.

“Here we are trying to sell the game, and stuff like that is going on,” Devils center John Madden told Ira Podell of the AP. “I just find it childish and I don’t agree with any of it.”

Madden is probably right about the play being childish; however, notice he mentions nothing about it being illegal. Whining players is childish as well, but it is a part of the game.

I do have one question for Madden. Exactly how were the Devils selling the game all these years they have been boring the NHL to death with the neutral zone trap?

Brian Gionta had an interesting take on L’Affair Avery in a conversation he had with Dave Caldwell of the NY Times.

“He’s just doing what he always does, and the best way to deal with that is to ignore him,” Gionta offered. “When he’s least effective is when you ignore him.”

Gionta’s advice is probably the best any opponent could take when facing Avery. However, ignoring Avery is like that mosquito bite you have. You know you should scratch it, but once you do you feel so much better.

Even Brent Sutter had to wade into the fray. One would think he would stay silent given the fact his tirade at the end of Game 2 should have earned him a penalty given the stick he tossed onto the ice. Funny, I must have missed the NHL missive about the “on the fly” interpretation. Anyway, this is what Sutter had to say following Game 3.

“I did have a conversation with the official about it,” the Devils coach told Josh Thomson of the Journal News. “He did tell me that the next time it happens, it will be a penalty. I was told after he scored, so I am not very comfortable with it.”

The funny thing about this whole episode is the one Devil who was most affected doesn’t seem to be making a federal case out of it.

“He didn’t do anything illegal,” Brodeur told Dan Martin of the NY Post. “I couldn’t see anything,” Brodeur said. “I’ve got to give him some credit. I don’t know if he did it on his own or was told to do it, but the two or three shots before he scored, I never saw.”

While Brodeur took a little harder of a stance while talking to Podell, he admitted that what Avery did was within the rules of the game.

“I’ve played for 15 years in this league. I’ve been watching games for 33 years. I had never seen that in my life,” Brodeur admitted to the AP. “I don’t think that kind of behavior should be done in front of the net, but there is no rule for it.”

Perhaps Chris Neil of the Ottawa senators summed up the situation succinctly in just one sentence.

“That’s just Sean Avery being Sean Avery,” the Ottawa tough guy opined.

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