Ron MacLean calls for end to spraying goalies in shootouts

Ron MacLean says the National Hockey League must stop forwards from spraying goaltenders in the face on shootout moves.

Hockey Night host questions how you stop a puck you can't see

Allowing skaters to spray ice in the face of goaltenders on shootout attempts, as Kaspars Daugavins is doing here last Monday, has to be stopped says Ron McLean. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Ron MacLean says the problem with Kaspars Daugavins’ now-famous shootout move on Tuuka Rask wasn’t the dipsy doodle with the stick, rather it was the ice spray to the face.

And it’s time the National Hockey League took a look at banning it.

The Hockey Night in Canada host brought up the point on Coach’s Corner, with Don Cherry, and expanded in an off-set interview a few minutes later, pointing to a photo he had seen by Fred Chartrand of The Canadian Press that clearly shows the Ottawa forward filling the Boston goaltender’s face with ice and water as he was pirouetting with the puck in front of him last Monday night.

"You can see the snow was right in Rask’s face," said MacLean, an experienced junior hockey referee. "If I skated in one-on-one with a water bottle in my hand and sprayed you in the face and deposited the puck, it’s almost as bad."

It’s also, he believes, counter-intuitive to what goaltenders are taught to do from the earliest age.

"A lot of what made me think of it was that Marty Brodeur’s goalie coach, Jacques Caron, was honoured in New Jersey," said MacLean. "His main message to Brodeur always was keep your eye on the puck … that’s their biggest deal is to keep their eye on the puck, but they can’t if they’re being sprayed."

Kevin Weekes, a former NHL goaltender and now HNIC commentator, agreed.

"I think it’s a great point," said the 11-year vet. "It’s not something I’ve really thought about.

"I love the creativity [of shootouts], and I wouldn’t want to inhibit creativity, at the same time I want to be able to make the save and yes, your ability to make the save could be hampered if the guy sprays you in the eyes."

Weekes, however, isn’t sure the shootout is going to last too many more years because some general managers, led by Detroit’s Ken Holland, are pushing to replace it with extra overtime that reduces the ice from four-on-four to three-on-three. Elliotte Friedman, on the HNIC Hot Stove panel, said that might come up but he didn’t expect three-on-three would happen anytime soon.

With the GM meetings coming up this week, MacLean thinks the subject of spraying the goalies, however, might come up.

"I’ll betcha they start to think about it," he said.