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Getting to Know the NHL Rulebook: Hockey Sticks 2

Welcome to the next installment of our ongoing series where the WIIM authors read big, boring NHL documents so you don't have to. Today's rulebook post is all about the measurement of sticks.

Ha! They can't take away my goal because of an illegal stick now! No, seriously. Rule 10.5.
Ha! They can't take away my goal because of an illegal stick now! No, seriously. Rule 10.5.
Bruce Bennett

2013-14 NHL Official Rules (PDF)

Welcome back. GtKtNHLR (doesn't that just roll off the tongue?) took an Olympic break because apparently the IIHF decided things like automatic icing and needing to go back to the bench immediately upon losing your helmet were important rules to keep instead of acquiesced to the NHL game. Since I'm a nice guy, I decided I wouldn't confuse you in case the IIHF had different rules on hockey equipment.

Disclaimer: This post is going to talk a lot about stick-measuring. Get all your TWSS's out of the way and your minds out of the gutter before proceeding. Or not, I guess.

Rule 10 - Sticks (cont'd)

10.5 Stick Measurement: Teams may request one and only one stick measurement. No, not per game, per stoppage of play. So if both teams decided, they could each request a stick measurement at every single stoppage of play, and fill the penalty boxes with all those minor penalties. Would make it really useful for the penalty boxes to fit ten people, per Rule 3.2.

In order to request a hockey stick measurement, the player whose stick will be measured has to be on the ice at the time of the request. So a player can't get around this rule by going to the bench because the determining factor is if he's on the ice when the request is made. Requests can only be made by Captains or Alternates.

Measurements can only be taken if at least one official on the ice maintains visual contact with the allegedly offending hockey stick. If the referees lose visual contact, too bad. Even if it sounds ridiculous, I think the motivation is good for this rule because if the referees lose visual contact with the requested stick, then they can no longer be certain the player is using the same stick, so it won't affect the game at all until said player steps onto the ice again.

The next paragraph is about how the referee is supposed to measure the stick. The important parts are that apparently it's super necessary that both teams go to the bench for a stick measurement--like a penalty shot--even though the referees are supposed to take the stick being measured to the penalty boxes on the opposite side of the ice.

This rule has tons of logistics. The results of the stick measurements are to be recorded on the back of the Penalty Record form, regardless of whether it resuls in a minor penalty or not. So somewhere in the archive of NHL games, we can go back and possibly find a record of Marty McSorley's illegal stick or what the measurements of Dominik Hasek's stick were in that Game 6 against Colorado in 2002.

If the stick is ILLEGAL:

  • The stick itself is kept at the penalty boxes until the end of the game. Who knows what happens to it at that point.
  • A minor penalty is assessed to the offending player because sticks don't serve time in the box by themselves.
  • Said offending player is also assessed a fine of $200. If it happens a 2nd time in the same season, the same minor penalty applies, but the fine is $1000. A 3rd time (in the same season), it's 2, 10, and 60, meaning the same minor plus a game misconduct and a one-game suspension. Every time afterward (again, in the same season), the same penalties apply, except the suspensions double. So if Patrick Kane is caught for the 6th time this season with an illegal stick as a result of measurements, he gets an automatic 8 game suspension.

If the stick is LEGAL:

  • The complaining team gets a bench minor penalty.
  • The complaining Club gets a $100 fine. I'm sure Eugene Melnyk would be thrilled to pay that off.

Yes, this is still Rule 10.5. I have no idea why this next provision is in a rule on stick measurements, but the next paragraph is the "two sticks" rule. Except it includes more than simply playing a puck while carrying two sticks:

A player who participates in the play, who checks or who intentionally prevents the movement of an opponent, or who intentionally plays the puck while carrying two sticks (including while taking a replacement stick to his goalkeeper) shall incur a minor penalty under this rule but the automatic fine of two hundred dollars ($200) shall not be imposed. If his participation causes a foul resulting in a penalty, the Referee shall report the incident to the Commissioner for disciplinary action.

Oooohhh, he gets a talk with Bettman? *gasp*

I also love how the previous provision starts off with the super specific "participates in the play." Then it goes on to situations that referees can actually clearly see and define: "checks," "prevents the movement of," "plays the puck."

The next paragraph is weird. Teams can request a stick measurement after a goal is scored (since it qualifies as a stoppage of play), but regardless of the findings of the stick measurement, a goal cannot be disallowed as a result of the measurement. I guess I can understand this provision from the standpoints of sportsmanship and game flow, but if the consequence of getting it wrong is a bench minor and a fine, I don't think stick measurements would be abused trying to get goals disallowed. If your team gets that bench minor, you've now severely hampered your chances of getting that goal back.

Also included is the logical provision that, if we're not going to disallow goals as a result of a stick measurement, then we're obviously not going to bother measuring a stick after a goal is scored in overtime.

If a player deliberately breaks a stick needing to be measured or refuses to surrender a stick for a measurement, said player gets a misconduct and a $200 fine for his trouble.


We're already at almost 1000 words, and we've covered only one subsection of a larger rule. I started writing out Rules 10.6 and 10.7, but I like to keep these around 1000 words, and the provisions of stick measurements prior to penalty shots (10.6) and shootout attempts (10.7) are enough for their own post next week.