Last night Dion Phaneuf took a run at Isles rookie Kyle Okposo. If you haven't seen the video here it is:
Most of the comments I've seen on this fall in the general category of "he didn't leave his feet", as summed up by Greg Wyshynski on Puck Daddy :
Islanders goalie Marty Biron said after game that "it definitely looked like feet went up," and they did -- but on impact, not before it. He didn't leave his skates to make the hit, at least from the angles I've seen.Which would be a valid argument if the actual rules used "leaving your feet" as a criteria. They don't. Here's what the NHL rule book says:
I have yet to see an argument that Phaneuf didn't take a run on Okposo to cause a violent hit. Phaneuf had Okposo lined up before he left his own zone, and Phaneuf hit him beyond the redline. He went a distance traveled and violently checked him. By the definition above (you know the one actually in the rule book) that's a charge.
Charging shall mean the actions of a player or goalkeeper who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
But the nature of rules always allows for gray and interpretation. The charging rule, as written, could be interpreted to the point that hitting is nearly taken out of the game. No one wants to see that (Despite this post, I enjoy clean hitting a lot. I just don't feel this was a clean hit, at all).
Most interpretations of the rule follow the "jumping aspect"and I can accept that, however people have taken that interpretation, one I agree with, and made an illogical leap (Punny!) that jumping is limited to hitting someone while in the air.
Getting airborne is to jumping as cruising at altitude is to flying an airplane. I don't think anyone would get on a plane with a pilot who knew how to cruise, but not take off or land. Somehow the "taking off" part of jumping is ignored in these violent hits. Jumping is more than getting airborne, it's the entire process that causes someone to leave their feet that counts as jumping. i.e. part of "jumping" is the the spring that leads to leaving the feet.
In any check there's 3 force4s that originate from the checking player, force from the legs, force from the back (applied through the shoulder), and force from the arm. A clean legal check results from driving the legs forward, horizontally, into an opponent, while the back and arm muscles can have a vertical component to them. When a player crosses that line and uses his legs to add to the vertical force component, he crosses the line into charging. "leaving the feet"has very little to do with it.
Since I descended into science speak there for a second, here's a graphical representation of what I'm saying:
Here's a clean legal hit by Dennis Wideman on Matt Stajan:
Now here's a screen shot of the hit with the direction of the forces magnificently drawn on (sorry about the image quality, it is a screen shot of youtube.)
The yellow here represents the force Wideman is applying from his legs, the blue from his body (back/abdomen) and the black is overall. This is clean because he's using his legs to drive through Stajans body, not upwards into it.
Now let's look at a hit similar to Phaneuf's (mainly because there's better pictures of it).. Niklas Kronwalls hit on Martin Havlat in the '09 WCF.
Now here's a widely circulating picture of the hit that is attempting to shows that Kronwalls feet are on the ice when the hit is made (which again, is missing the point):
Again the key point here is that Kronwall is driving both forwards (ok) and upwards with his legs. Whether he hit Havlat in the split second before he left the ice, or the split second afterward is irrelevant. The key point is he was driving upwards with his legs... which is the process of jumping.