So, today I was sitting in our usual seats at the Toronto Marlies' game. It was still pre-game — players were tooling around on the ice and getting ready along the blue lines for the anthem, fawn-legged children were unsteadily making their way down the ice to join them, goal judges flicking the lights to make sure they're working. As I looked to my right down at the tunnel where the Zamboni™ comes out, I saw that Chicago Wolves goalie Matt Climie had taken up a seat by the entrance.
This vexes me. It's not the first time this season I've seen this happen. St. John's does this every time when they come to town — I've stared a lot at Eddie Pasquale and Jussi Olkinuora's backs. I seem to recall Abbotsford's backup doing it last year, too.
But it's very annoying. First of all, it's just inconsiderate. The goalie sitting beside the boards at that spot means that the aisle where fans are coming through is narrowed — they have to squeeze past him. It slows down the flow of people, creating lineups. Second, a player sitting out in the open like that is autograph bait for kids coming through there. See hockey player, ask hockey player to sign something — it's perfectly logical. But the security staff end up having to move the kids along, because you can't approach a player while the game's going on.
But mostly, it ticks me off because it's unfair. Hockey teams have a finite amount of space on their benches. Players have gotten larger over the years. Equipment has multiplied and grown bulkier. It's a tight fit, especially when guys are trying to hop over the boards on the fly to change lines. It seems to me that not having to leave room for the backup goalie — the bulkiest equipped position on the team — means that a team would have a lot more room in which to manoeuvre.
Every time I see this, I do exactly the same thing — I tweet the American Hockey League:
I have never — not even one time — received an answer.
Tonight, I turned to the internet. I mean, there has to be a rule about this sort of thing, right? Surely the AHL has rules about how many players have to be dressed for each game, and what they have to wear, AND WHERE THEY HAVE TO SIT? Right?
Introducing Rule 5.3 of the AHL Official Rules 2013-14, entitled "Goalkeeper", which reads in part (emphasis mine)…
…Each team shall have on its bench, or on a chair immediately beside the bench, a substitute goalkeeper who shall, at all times, be fully dressed and equipped ready to play…
On its bench, or on a chair immediately beside the bench.
So, AHL, what about it? Think you might be interested in having your referees enforce the rule book?