Getting to Know the NHL Rulebook: Hockey Sticks 3

I wonder if Paul Maurice considered challenging Chris Higgins' stick. - Marianne Helm

Welcome to the next installment in our series where the WIIM authors read big, boring NHL documents so you don't have to. Today's rulebook post FINALLY finishes Rule 10.

2013-14 NHL Official Rules (PDF)

Yeesh. We started covering this rule on February 5. It's March 13. It's officially taken us more than a month to cover Rule 10. I won't be surprised if you forgot everything during the Olympic break and in the two weeks since the last rulebook post, so here's a recap of what we've covered so far.

  • Rules 10.1 and 10.2 put limits on the materials and various measurements of player sticks (10.1) and goalie sticks (10.2).
  • Rules 10.3 and 10.4 covered what happens when a player breaks his stick (10.3) and when a goalie breaks his stick (10.4) and how each kind of player can get a replacement.
  • Rule 10.5, which took one entire post, was all about stick measurement procedures and the various consequences for both teams depending on the results of the measurement. Also included in the rule is the "two sticks" provision.

Rule 10 - Sticks (cont'd)

10.6 Stick Measurement - Prior to Penalty Shot: We come to more procedures for stick measurements. Teams can request a stick measurement prior to a penalty shot, and the consequences are as follows:

Stick No. 1

  • If the first stick measured is LEGAL, then the complaining club gets a bench minor penalty for delay of game, and a player is put in the penalty box immediately before the penalty shot is taken. He stays and serves the penalty as normal, regardless of the outcome of the penalty shot.
  • If the first stick measured is ILLEGAL, then the offending player is assessed a minor penalty for an illegal stick. He will serve his penalty after he takes the penalty shot, but before taking the penalty shot, he needs to get a different stick, which triggers . . .

Stick No. 2

  • This second stick will be measured automatically before the penalty shot.
  • If this second stick is LEGAL, player takes the penalty shot, the game continues (or ends if he scores and it's overtime), and life goes on.
  • If this second stick is ILLEGAL, the penalty shot is disallowed, and the player goes to serve his minor penalty for the first illegal stick.

That last consequence for the second illegal stick will come into play in the next rule when we talk about stick measurements prior to shootout attempts. If a player completely refuses to surrender his stick for a measurement, the penalty shot is disallowed, and the player receives a misconduct penalty. We'll get to this eventually, but I would like to point out now, since the terms have been used already, that there is a difference between "misconduct" and "game misconduct." "Misconduct" simply removes a player from the game for 10 minutes with no change in on-ice manpower, while a "game misconduct" is an ejection.

10.7 Stick Measurement - Prior to Shootout Attempt: Teams have right up until the referee blows his whistle to signal a player to take the shot when they can request a stick measurement. If the referee blows his whistle, tough luck.

Unlike the penalty shot procedures which allow a player a second opportunity before completely disallowing the penalty shot, all consequences are triggered as a result of the measurement of the first stick.

  • If a player's stick is LEGAL, the complaining club forfeits their next shootout attempt. So if Mike Babcock gambles that Jordan Eberle is using an illegal stick when the Red Wings go to a shootout against the Oilers on Friday (because you know it's going to happen) and loses, then the Red Wings' next shootout attempt is automatically counted as a "no goal."
  • There's more:
    Should this occur during the first set of three shooters, the next shooter listed becomes ineligible to shoot until such time as all eligible players have participated in the shootout.
    So essentially, it's treated as if the player took the shot and missed, and now he has to wait for everyone on his team to shoot before he can shoot again, just like a normal shootout procedure.
  • But wait, there's even more! In our scenario above, Babcock would be fined $1000, and the Red Wings would be fined $5000 for being wrong about Eberle's stick possibly being illegal.
  • If a player's stick is ILLEGAL, then very similar consequences are triggered: the Oilers forfeit their shootout attempt because of an illegal stick, Eberle becomes ineligible to participate in the shootout, Eberle is fined $1000, and the Oilers are fined $5000. Oh, and of course, the resulting shootout non-attempt would be recorded as a "no goal."

Because of this rule's wording, it's unclear if Eberle would be ineligible to participate in the shootout permanently, or if he can take a shot after all his teammates take theirs, assuming it gets that far. The paragraph on "if the stick is legal . . ." includes the provision "until such time as all eligible players have participated in the shootout." So I find it puzzling that it would be omitted from the following paragraph. Maybe if Eberle's stick is found to be illegal, the NHL doesn't want to deal with him for the rest of the shootout, so he's banned for the rest of that shootout.

Until that situation comes up and the NHL makes up an interpretation of the rules on the spot, we'll never know. Just understand that as the rules currently are written, Eberle would be banned from the rest of the shootout.

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We've finally finished Rule 10! After over a month! We talked in Rule 9 about player uniforms and here in Rule 10 about hockey sticks. Next time, we start the section on goalie equipment.

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