5 Wacky NHL Rules Most Fans Don't Know
The game of hockey seems so basic.
Five skaters and a goalie from each team take the ice. The idea is to advance the puck into the offensive zone and then put the puck behind the goaltender into the net. The team that can do this the most times in a game gets credit for the victory.
But on the way to that victory, there are several rules that are a bit on the strange side. Simple procedures that are not so simple.
Here's a look at five strange rules that many fans don't know.
It's all about getting the edge on your opponent if you want to win the faceoff.
Players will do anything to get that edge, including push the rules to the absolute limit. Before the linesman drops the puck, he has to make sure both centers are lined up properly.
It may be maddening for fans who want the linesman to drop the puck, but he must make sure five criteria are met before he does, according to NHL rules:
- Both players are positioned properly.
- Both players have their sticks on the ice.
- No other player may encroach the faceoff circle.
- No player may make physical contact with his opponent.
- No player may line up offsides.
If any of these conditions are not met, the linesman may not drop the puck and he may eject either of the two centers from the faceoff circle.
That's why it may take such a long time to drop the puck.
The NHL looks at spearing as one of the most vicious plays on the ice.
Spearing takes place when one player attempts to hit his opponent with the blade end of his stick.
According to NHL rules, a player is supposed to be penalized for spearing, whether he makes contact with his opponent or not.
A player who attempts to spear an opponent and does not make contact is assessed a double-minor (four-minute) penalty. However, if a player makes contact with an opponent with the blade end of the stick, he will receive a major (five-minute) penalty.
If the player is injured, the offending player will receive a match penalty and is subject to additional disciplinary action.
Head-butting is not frequently called in the NHL, but it is an illegal and dangerous act that will result in a penalty and suspension.
According to NHL rules, a player who attempts to use his head to make contact with an opponent will get called for a double-minor penalty. If he makes contact with his opponent's head, face or any other body part, he will get a five-minute penalty.
That player will also be subject to additional discipline.
In the video above, watch Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres head-butt his opponent. He was given a four-game suspension.
A goalie can skate out of his crease and go anywhere in the defensive zone that does not include the trapezoid areas behind the net.
However, if the goalie attempts to get involved in the play, he can only skate up to the center-ice red line. If the goalie crosses the red line and plays the puck or checks an opponent, he will be given a two-minute penalty for illegal participation, according to the NHL rules.
Goalie Replacement in Shootout
While a team may replace its goalie at any point in regulation time or overtime, once a goalie starts playing in a shootout, he may not be replaced in the shootout.
If a goalie gives up a so-called "bad" goal, the coach may not replace the goalie and put in a substitute. The only time a goalie can be replaced in a shootout is due to injury.