Why So Many Penalties In Hockey?

June 26, 2013

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If you are a hockey fan, then you have probably been glued to the television for the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins showdown for the Stanley Cup. Whether you are a die-hard fan or new to the hockey scene, The 2013 Old Farmer’s Almanac fills us in on some rules of the game since the league began in 1916.

WHY SO MANY PENALTIES IN HOCKEY?

 

RULE 67.2: HANDLING THE PUCK

  • In the early 1920’s, Fred “Cyclone” Taylor of the Vancouver Millionaires had a habit of picking up the puck and throwing it to the fans when he needed a few seconds of rest during a hectic game. Before long, other players began doing it, too, thus frustrating forwards everywhere. In 1928, the NHL formally prohibited players from closing their hands on the puck.

RULE 1.7: THE CREASE

  • In the early days, goalies could be bodychecked anywhere, anytime, just like other skaters. They got no special protection and took a lot of punishment. Owners wanted to protect their netminders, so during the 1933-34 season, the NHL requested that all rinks mark lines on the ice in front of the net designating a protected goalies-only zone (a “crease”).

RULE 22.1: THE 10-MINUTE MISCONDUCT

  • In the 1930’s, abuse of officials by players was an escalating problem, especially from defenseman Eddie Shore of the Boston Bruins, who angrily chased referee Odie Cleghorn around the rink and fired a puck straight into his back. With that, Cleghorn invented the 10-minute game misconduct and sent Shore to the penalty box, where he watched the opposing team score four goals.

RULE 63.2: FALLING ON THE PUCK

  • Montreal Canadien Jacgues Plante developed a style of play by diving out of his crease throwing his body over the puck anywhere on the ice - even in the circles, if he could get there. This made the game almost impossible, unfair, and boring. In 1959, the League declared that the goaltender could fall on, or cover, the puck only inside the crease or else draw a penalty.

RULE 63.4: OBJECTS THROWN ON THE ICE

  • During the Florida Panthers’ 1996 playoff run, a rat was found and killed with a hockey stick by Forward Scott Mellanby in the dressing room. He later scored two goals with the stick. When the story got out, fans began bringing stuffed or plastic rats to games and throwing them onto the ice after any Panthers goal. It got so that thousands of rats would come raining down every time the home team scored. The next year, the NHL ruled that the home team would receive a 2-minute penalty if fans threw objects onto the ice during a game.


Ginger Vaughan has worked for The Old Farmer's Almanac for over a decade. Like the Almanac she strives to be "useful, with a pleasant degree of humor." 

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