Matthew Barzal’s NHL career got off to a rocky start. The Islanders rookie was sent to the penalty box on his very first shift of his National Hockey League career. His second penalty came before he even left the box.
After his initial two minutes were up, the penalty box door opened. Barzal played the puck. As ref Mike Leggo once said, you can’t do that.
Barzal was hit with a penalty for interference by referee Dan O’Rourke. He turned around and sat right back down for another two minutes.
From NHL Rule 56.2, which covers interference:
A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players’ bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play.
In addition, should a player about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are still on the players’ or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference shall be assessed.
The young Islanders center did get another chance to show he’d learned his lesson. When time expired on his third period tripping penalty, Barzal was able to successfully make it out of the box before rejoining the play.
Consider that a lesson learned – and a rule clarified – in his first NHL game.