Getting to Know the NHL Rulebook: Goalie Penalties and Supplemental Discipline

We interrupt your Dan Cleary-induced rage-quitting to bring you the next section of the NHL rulebook on goalie penalties.

2013-2014 Official Rules (PDF)

It takes a pretty severe infraction for a goalie to actually serve a penalty himself. For "lesser offenses," it makes sense given that teams regularly carry only two goaltenders, and substituting them in the middle of a game is a bit more work than changing skaters on the ice.

Rule 27 - Goalkeeper's Penalties

27.1 Minor Penalty to Goalkeeper: If a goalie incurs a minor penalty, he doesn't serve it himself. The team's coach decides which of the players on the ice at the time of the infraction serves the penalty. If a skater was also penalized on the same time, or if a skater was already the penalty box, the team cannot just decide to pile the penalty minutes on one player to minimize the impact of taking penalties. How fair would it be if Dan Cleary took a slashing penalty at the same time Jimmy Howard took a tripping penalty, and we just decided to saddle Cleary with four minutes in penalties when we should be two players down?

27.2 Major Penalty to Goalkeeper: Same as a minor penalty, a goalie doesn't serve his own major penalties but a teammate on the ice at the time of the infraction selected by the coach. A goalie is, however, subject to the three-majors rule, where if he incurs three major penalties in the same game, he gets a bonus game misconduct and auto-fine of $200. Does the goalie serve the game misconduct? Read ahead to find out!

27.3 Misconduct Penalty to Goalkeeper: Same as the minor and major penalties, a goalie doesn't serve his own misconduct penalties, and they're instead served by someone else who was the ice and blah blah blah copy-paste. A goalie is subject to the auto-fine of $100 for a misconduct penalty.

27.4 Game Misconduct Penalty to Goalkeeper: Keeping in mind that "game misconduct" is hockey's way of saying ejection, a goalie IS subject to serving his own game misconduct penalties because he's thrown out of the game at that point (as well as subject to the $200 fine). Imagine the postgame if this rule kept to the standards of the others by having other players serve the goalie's penalties: "Uhh, yeah, we decided to let Luke Glendening get ejected instead of Jimmy Howard."

27.5 Match Penalty to Goalkeeper: Keeping in mind that match penalties also result in ejections just like game misconducts, goalies serve their own match penalties and are thrown out of the game. One interesting wrinkle is that in coincidental penalty situations, no skater is required to serve a goalie's match penalty when it's coincidental with a match or major penalty to the other team. So while a team loses a player to the match penalty, the goalie doesn't drag a teammate to the penalty box too.

27.6 Leaving Goal Crease: A goalie incurs a minor penalty for leaving the goal crease, or "the immediate vicinity" of it, during an altercation. Note that the goaltender doesn't have to join said altercation for the penalty to be assessed (at least, the way the rule is written). In addition, there's a $200 fine and the potential for supplemental discipline.

In the event an altercation is happening in or near a goalie's crease (and the goalie isn't involved), the referee will direct the goalie somewhere else and no penalty is assessed. In addition, if for some reason a goalie is outside his goal crease already when an altercation is happening, he won't be assessed the penalty for leaving the goal crease. These situations could include playing a puck or skating to the bench for an extra skater.

During play stoppages, if a goalie wants to go to the player's bench for any reason and then come back before play starts again, he must receive permission from the referee to do so. Failure to do so means the backup goaltender going into the game or else his team incurring a bench minor delay of game penalty if the original goalie tries to go back out.

27.7 Participating in the Play Over the Center Red Line: I think this rule knows what it's trying to say but somehow still manages to screw it up:

If a goalkeeper participates in the play in any manner (intentionally plays the puck or checks an opponent) when he is beyond the center red line, a minor penalty shall be imposed upon him. The position of the puck is the determining factor for the application of this rule.This rule essentially prevents a goaltender from skating anywhere in his team's offensive half of the ice. The problem with the way this rule is written is that if the position of the puck determines whether this rule is applied is that theoretically, a team can get away with throwing the puck back into their defensive half and have their goalie skate across the red line and "participate in the play" and get away with it. I don't know what this would accomplish because there's absolutely nothing to be gained from a goalie skating in the offensive half of the ice, but would it kill the NHL just to say it's a penalty for the goalie to skate over the red line and participate in the play?

27.8 Restricted Area: This is the "trapezoid rule." The goalie can't play the puck in the sectioned off areas in the corners as defined by Rule 1.8, lest he incur a delay of game minor. Where the puck is determines whether the penalty is assessed or not. There's one interesting thing I've never heard of until reading this rule:

The minor penalty will not be assessed when a goalkeeper plays the puck while maintaining skate contact with his goal crease.Considering the distance from the goal post to the start of the restricted area along the goal line is 6' (crease to restricted area is slightly shorter), I'm not really sure what a goalie gains by trying to play the puck in the restricted area while his skate maintains contact with the goal crease.

27.9 Infractions - Unique to Goalkeepers: We'll get to some of these rules later, but Table 15 on page 136 (PDF p. 147) lays out all the infractions that referees can assess on goaltenders. In addition to those covered in this post, we've also covered illegal sticks, dangerous equipment, and goalie equipment.

Rule 28 - Supplementary Discipline

28.1 Supplementary Discipline: At the discretion of the Commissioner, he may investigate any incident related to the league and assess additional punishments as necessary. The statute of limitations on investigation requests is 24 hours after the game. So if a team misses the playoffs by that much, they can't complain about regular season game 1 now.

28.2 Pre-Season and Exhibition Games: For suspensions doled out because of pre-season or exhibition infractions, "the Commissioner shall exercise his discretion in scheduling the suspensions to ensure that no team shall be short more players in any regular League games than it would have been had the infractions occurred in regular League games." I'll be honest: I don't understand the application of or the motivation behind this rule, but I think it has to do with making sure teams have enough players eligible to play in pre-season or exhibition games because of the roster turnover that can happen outside of the regular season.

Rule 29 - Signals

Refer to the Official Rules for this rule, which has sketches of all the signals referees and linesmen make and the penalties they refer to. There are no signals for headbutting, kicking, a match penalty, throwing equipment, and too many men on the ice.


Section 4 is done. Section 5 on Officials is next.