The NHL rulebook calls for goals to be disallowed when propelled into the net by a ‘distinct kicking motion’ — but what exactly does that mean? Here’s a look at the rule, along with the NHL’s video explanation.
Prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, the NHL clarified their definition of a distinct kicking motion to allow more goals off skates. From Rule 37.4:
Plays that involve a puck entering the net as a direct result of a “distinct kicking motion” shall be ruled NO GOAL.
A “distinct kicking motion,” for purposes of Video Review, is one where the video makes clear that an attacking Player has deliberately propelled the puck with a kick of his foot or skate and the puck subsequently enters the net. A goal cannot be scored on a play where an attacking Player propels the puck with his skate into the net (even by means of a subsequent deflection off of another Player) using a “distinct kicking motion.” A goal also cannot be scored on a play where an attacking Player kicks any equipment (stick, glove, helmet, etc.) at the puck, including kicking the blade of his own stick, causing the puck to cross the goal line.
A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking Player’s skate who does not use a “distinct kicking motion” shall be ruled a GOAL. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking Players’ skate shall also be ruled a GOAL, as long as no “distinct kicking motion” is evident.
Kicked-in goals are also covered under Rule 49.2:
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.
A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official.
A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident.
The following should clarify deflections following a kicked puck that enters the goal:
(i) A kicked puck that deflects off the body of any player of either team (including the goalkeeper) shall be ruled no goal.
(ii) A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the goalkeeper’s stick) shall be ruled a good goal.
(iii) A goal will be allowed when an attacking player kicks the puck and the puck deflects off his own stick and then into the net.
(iv) A goal will be allowed when a puck enters the goal after deflecting off an attacking player’s skate or deflects off his skate while he is in the
process of stopping.
A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks any equipment (stick, glove, helmet, etc.) at the puck, including kicking the blade of his own stick, causing the puck to cross the goal line.
Furthermore, Rule 78.5 handles disallowed goals:
78.5 Disallowed Goals – Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons: […] (ii) When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion.
It all comes back to what the league considers to be a distinct kicking motion. In years past, even turning your skate to direct the puck was enough to have a goal waved off. That’s changed considerably, where players are now permitted to intentionally deflect pucks in — even to move their skate to do so, provided they’re not propelling the puck into the net.