Bobby McMann’s dreams came true, then they were quickly taken away from him.
During the first period of Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie, who was playing in his second-ever NHL game, thought he scored his first career goal just seconds into the contest. What seemed like an incredible story quickly turned into confusion for everyone in the arena and watching on television.
McMann skillfully kicked the puck to take the in-tight shot on his stick, but it hit off Detroit defender Olli Maatta and was knocked into the back of the net. It was then called back and ruled “no goal.”
Rule 49.2 of the NHL rulebook explains it a little bit further: “A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net with his skate/foot,” the rule reads. “A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official.”
Since McMann purposely kicked the puck in an attempt to get it to his stick and it went off Maatta and into the back of the net, it was correctly disallowed, even though it was accidental.
We all know how polarizing the distinct kicking motion rule can be, but before this ruling, not a whole lot of folks were even aware this was illegal. As with any odd ruling from the league – like the countless questionable goaltender interference calls we get every season – the hockey world took notice.
McMann, 26, has eight goals and seven assists in 17 games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this season. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Wainwright, Alta., native was named the AHL Player of the Week on Monday after registering six points over his previous three games. He finished second on the Marlies last season with 24 goals.
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