Getting to Know the NHL Rulebook: Awarded Goals and the Delayed Penalty Rule

Welcome to the next installment of our series where the WIIM authors read big, boring NHL documents so you don't have to. Today's rulebook post covers awarded goals and the seldom-needed but still very confusing delayed penalty rule.

2013-14 Official Rules (PDF)

Rule 25 - Awarded Goals

Did you know you could score goals without ever needing to shoot a puck into the net? Back when I first cracked open the rulebook, this section quite fantastically blew my mind.

25.1 Awarded Goal: If a team has its goalie pulled for the extra attacker, infractions which would normally result in penalty shots instead become awarded goals.

25.2 Infractions - When Goalkeeper is On the Ice: I'm sure you all have fond memories of this moment. This rule is essentially the same as Rule 63.6, except the latter explicates this situation more fully. Suffice it to say that a goal will be awarded if an attacking player is prevented from scoring because a defender or the goalie knocked the net off, "deliberately or accidentally."

25.3 Infractions - When Goalkeeper is Off the Ice: Table 14 on page 136 (PDF p. 147) "Summary of Awarded Goals (When Goalkeeper has been Removed for an Extra Attacker)" lists the infractions that shall result in an awarded goal with a goalie pulled. Every single one of these listed infractions results in a penalty shot when the goalie is still on the ice; when the goalie is pulled, it instead results in an awarded goal. So then, I go back to rule 24.2 of the penalty shot rule:

If at the time a penalty shot is awarded, the goalkeeper of the penalized team has been removed from the ice to substitute another player, the goalkeeper shall be permitted to return to the ice before the penalty shot is taken.I ask again: If all infractions that lead to penalty shots with a goalie on the ice instead become awarded goals with the goalie pulled, when is a goalie ever going to come back onto the ice to defend a penalty shot instead of the non-offending team just being awarded a goal?

25.4 Infractions - During the Course of a Penalty Shot: A goal will be awarded if a goalie throws any object--his stick, his water bottle, other equipment, etc.--at the player taking the shot or if he knocks the net off, regardless of intent.

Rule 26 - Delayed Penalties

"Wait, didn't we cover this already?" you may be asking. Well, technically, no. Rule 15 covered all the possible scenarios and procedures of the delayed penalty call and the consequences of goals scored during delayed calls. Rule 26 refers to delayed penalty timing.

26.1 Delayed Penalty: This rule is a very interesting consequence of on-ice strength rules: maximum of five skaters at full strength (or six with the goalie pulled) and minimum of three skaters when a team has taken penalties in quick succession. Even if the referees may be less likely to call penalties against teams already shorthanded, there is no rule limiting the number of calls they can make, and there's no limit to the number of players they can put in the penalty box.

When two players are already in the box and a third player on the same team takes a penalty, he immediately proceeds to the box to serve his penalty. (This is assuming these penalties are not coincidental penalties.) While he's sitting in the box, the time on his penalty does not start counting until one of the first two players finishes serving his penalty. So ultimately a minor penalty would end up costing the offender more than two minutes in this scenario.

26.2 Penalty Expiration: The kicker to this whole scenario is that while the time on the third player's penalty starts counting when one of the other two's expires, none of them can leave the penalty box until the next stoppage of play.

The next paragraph confuses me (emphasis mine):

During the play, the Penalty Timekeeper shall permit the return to the ice of the penalized players, in the order of expiry of their penalties, but only when the penalized team is entitled to have more than four players on the ice. Otherwise, these players must wait until the first stoppage of play after the expiration of their penalties in order to be released from the penalty bench."More than four players" means that none of the players can return to the ice until the (heavily) penalized team is back at full strength. But in order for that to happen, the last second has to tick off the clock for the most recent player to be penalized, and based on the delayed penalty rule, that will take more than two minutes. So does that mean the penalized team has to keep killing a penalty with three skaters until all of their penalties expire, assuming there isn't a stoppage? Or is this the one time when the rulebook actually remembers it defined and distinguished between the terms "player" (which refers to both skaters and goalies), "skater," and "goalkeeper" and it's referring to having more than just the goalkeeper and the three skaters on the ice?

Let's attempt to illustrate this and see if it gets anywhere: Say Drew Miller takes a high-sticking minor at 5:00 of the second period. Detroit skates 4-on-5 and the timing on Miller's penalty works normally. A minute into the kill, Jonathan Ericsson is booked for cross-checking at 6:00. The Red Wings are now 3-on-5, Ericsson's penalty starts counting down immediately, and Miller is set to return in a minute. This is all familiar territory (thank based refpuck). Thirty seconds later, Brendan Smith throws the puck over the glass for a delay of game minor at 6:30.

What happens now is Smith takes a seat in the box, but his two minutes don't start ticking until Miller's penalty expires in thirty seconds. If there are stoppages of play at the appropriate times, Miller and Ericsson can leave the penalty box after their penalties expire, leaving Smith to serve his minor penalty as normal. Miller's penalty expires at 7:00, Ericsson's at 8:00. Because Smith's penalty didn't start counting down until Miller's expired, his penalty starts at 7:00 and expires at 9:00. This is all assuming no power play goals are scored because it's already confusing enough. So now my question is, when can Miller and Ericsson (and I guess Smith too) return to the ice if there are no stoppages of play from the time of Smith's penalty to its expiry? And does that mean the Red Wings are 3-on-5 for a full three minutes, from the time Ericsson took his penalty at 6:00 to when Smith's penalty expires at 9:00? Or can Miller return to the ice when Ericsson's penalty expires (again, assuming no stoppages of play)?

In the event even more players take penalties, the logic of this rule extends to the start of those players' penalty times. The clock won't start on players' penalties until they're second in line to leave the box.

In a completely different scenario, when two players' penalties from the same team are set to expire at the same time, the Captain will tell the referee which guy to let out first in the event a power play goal is scored.

26.3 Major and Minor Penalty: When two different players on the same team incur a major and a minor penalty at the same stoppage, the Penalty Timekeeper records the minor first. Yay, bookkeeping.


I can't wait to see how the NHL decides to write whatever new rules it comes up with for next season. Woof. Goalie penalties next time.