Getting to Know the NHL Rulebook: Delayed Penalties

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 begins our discussion of penalties with delayed penalties.

NHL Official Rules 2013-2014 (PDF)

We're finally starting to get into the meat of the NHL rulebook, but there are still some basics and obvious things we should cover so we're all on the same page. Some of these rules will build pretty logically on each other, and some are also obscure enough that it's worth covering what would happen should we ever encounter that particular situation.

Section 4 - Types of Penalties

Rule 15 - Calling of Penalties

15.1 Calling a Penalty: Most fans should know this, as it's one of the first things they might notice when they watch a game. "What's that guy in stripes doing raising his arm up like that?"

If the referee has a penalty to call, whether minor or major or match or misconduct, he blows the whistle when the offending team takes possession of the puck, including waiting for a change of possession if the offending team doesn't already have it. If he's waiting for that change of possession, the raised arm signals a delayed penalty call. If you've ever wondered or been asked why it's necessary to delay penalty calls, think of it this way: why punish the non-offending team by ending their potential scoring chance?

If a "player, Trainer, Manager, coach or non-playing Club personnel is ejected from the game," said person has to leave the bench and can't participate in the game in any way. This includes everything from carrier pigeons to telecommunications.

I won't list it all out here, but there are points in the rulebook, including right here, where there will be handy reference tables included in the back that list all possible whatevers pertaining to that rule. In this case, since we're talking about penalties to "non-playing Club personnel," the first table includes a list of everything that can be called against non-playing Club personnel. [Page 129 of the rulebook, page 140 of the PDF.]

15.2 Calling a Minor Penalty - Goal Scored: If the referee raises his arm for a delayed minor penalty and the non-offending team scores a goal, the minor penalty is wiped out. Major and match penalties are still assessed, however. The logic of this rule applies in the next few instances.

More obscurely, if there is more than one minor penalty being assessed and a goal is scored by the non-offending team, the Captain can decide which penalty or penalties will be enforced. So if Kyle Quincey takes an interference penalty at the same time Todd Bertuzzi takes a high-sticking penalty, Henrik Zetterberg can decide to have either Quincey or Bertuzzi serve the penalty. (Sidenote: I would pick Bertuzzi.)

15.3 Calling a Double-minor Penalty - Goal Scored: If the referee is waiting on a delayed double-minor penalty and the non-offending team scores, one minor is wiped off the double-minor call. The double-minor is recorded, but only a single minor is served because of a goal scored.

15.4 Calling a Penalty - Short-handed Team - Goal Scored: Now is when it might get a bit confusing.

Scenario one: The Red Wings are shorthanded thanks to Quincey. Brendan Smith is out on the penalty kill and takes a slashing penalty. The ref raises his arm for a delayed call. The opposing team scores. What happens now is that the penalty already being served ends, so Quincey gets out of the box, but instead of the Smith penalty being wiped out like normal, Smith goes to serve his penalty. So the goal does NOT end up washing out the Smith penalty, and the Red Wings are forced to kill off another minor penalty.

Scenario two: The blood fucks Quincey again, and he gets a five-minute major (and a game misconduct, but we'll ignore that for now). The Red Wings are trying to kill off the five minutes when Drew Miller gets caught tripping. The ref raises his arm, and the opposing team scores on the delayed call. What happens here is that the minor penalty is wiped out. So unlike in a minor penalty situation already on the board, if a major penalty is being served in this scenario, the Red Wings wouldn't go down two men.

I couldn't tell you the exact motivation for this difference, but if you think about this way, it might help: when your team is already killing off a penalty, if they take another one, then they will still be shorthanded no matter the circumstances. If it's two consecutive minors, then one is going to end and the other begin if the opposing team scores on the delayed call; if it's a major being served while a minor is delayed, then the major penalty is still going to be served in its entirety, so there's no need to send another man to the box if the opposing team scores on the delay.

Any major and match penalties will be assessed as they would be normally, regardless of any goals scored on a delayed call.

15.5 Faceoff Locations: If a penalty is put on the board for one team at a stoppage of play, the next faceoff will be at one of the two circles in that team's defensive zone. In other words, this is the recent rule change that says, "If you take a penalty, the faceoff will be in your own zone." I say "If a penalty is put on the board for one team" because if there are coincidental penalties, the faceoff location won't be determined by this rule, at least the way the rule's written.

There are four exceptions to "penalty equals faceoff in your own zone":

  • Goal scored: faceoff at center ice.
  • Period end: faceoff at center ice to start the next period.
  • Attacking players advance below the circles to engage in post-whistle scrums: faceoff in the neutral zone. This will also be discussed when we get to Rule 76.2./

Icing: normal icing rules apply. Icing does apply, but with a small wrinkle. If the non-offending team ices the puck, they lose the offensive zone faceoff; the faceoff is instead at one of the dots outside the icing team's blue line. Thanks to Robocop for catching the original mistake.
I personally like when they changed this rule because I think it was a decent way of trying to increase scoring without trying to game the system or mechanisms of the game too much. Instead of the normal faceoff location rules applying before the rule change, now every power play can start in the attacking zone, hopefully leading to more set plays and chances instead of seeing failed zone entry after failed zone entry after failed zone entry. Of course, this rule change also only benefits teams that gain possession off the initial faceoff in the attacking zone on the power play.


This just barely dips our toes into the water, but at least we're getting into more noticeable issues of game flow. We'll actually start covering the different types of penalties starting with minor penalties next time.