Week 14 – No shirt… No problem!

NHL Rules

Rule / Situation of the week

Be the Referee!!!

Welcome to our Rule/Situation(s) of Week!


Welcome back! This week’s column will try to explain why sometimes a player receive a Game Misconduct penalty for losing his jersey during the course of a fight and why sometimes this same Game Misconduct penalty is not assessed.

Rule 46.13 (Jerseys) states:A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is removed (completely off his torso), other than through the actions of his opponent in the altercation or through the actions of the Linesman, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.

The rationale behind this rule is to prevent player from using different tactics where they would get their jersey off during a fight to gain an advantage over their opponent. On top of getting an advantage in the fight by having their jersey removed, there is also a safety factor here to prevent a player from pulling his opponent jersey over his head and feeding him while his jersey now blinds him. In the 90’s, Buffalo Sabres enforcer Rob Ray was well kwon for using this tactic during his fights. Ray’s jersey and shoulder pads would quickly be shed due to his opponent’s clutching and grabbing and his opponent would no longer be able to clutch and grab him giving him an advantage in the fight. Since then, a new rule was added in the Rulebook to prevent such tactic. Every NHL player’s jersey now have a “tied down” strap in the back that player are required to attach with their pant’s belt to prevent the jersey from going over the player’s head during an altercation.

So, when a player engages in a fight and his jersey is removed because he was not properly “tied down”, this player is to be assessed a Game Misconduct penalty in addition to his fighting and other penalties incurred on this play. Let’s see a few situations where the Game Misconduct penalty is not applied to a player losing his jersey during a fight.



Team A player takes offense to a Team B player’s legal hard body check on a teammate. He clearly skates across the ice dropping his gloves and stick along the way. Once he reaches the Team B player they engage in an altercation. During the fight the Team B player loses his jersey. It is noticed that Team B’s jersey was not tied down. What penalties will be assessed to each player?


Team A player would receive a minor penalty for instigating, a major penalty for fighting and a misconduct penalty.

Team B player would receive a major penalty for fighting. Since the opposing player was deemed the instigator, the game misconduct for not having his jersey properly tied down is not applicable. Rule 46.11, 46.13 & 46.14


Rule 46.13 states:A player who is involved in an altercation, when the opponent has been identified as an instigator, shall not be assessed a game misconduct penalty if his jersey should be removed by an opponent or an official in the discharge of his duties, regardless as to whether or not he was properly “tied-down” (jersey properly fastened to pants).



During the course of a fight, the jersey on the player from Team A gets pulled off his torso by the Team B player. When the fight is stopped by the Linesmen, it is observed that the tie-down is still completely in tact and attached to the pant of the player. Is this a penalty?


This is not a penalty. If the player or goalkeeper loses his jersey despite the tie down remaining in tact and attached to the pants, the game misconduct is not applicable, however this must be reported to the League office so that the jersey and the tie down can be examined. Rule 46.13



At 19:24 of the first period, a scrum ensues in the Blue team’s crease area. Blue #3 is about to be assessed a minor penalty for roughing when he and Red #19 come together and begin to fight. Blue #3’s jersey comes completely off of his torso almost immediately after the fight begins. Blue #3 is assessed a game misconduct penalty under Rule 46.13. During the second intermission the Blue team Trainer comes into the officials’ dressing room with Blue #3’s hockey pants to show the officials that the strap at the rear of the pants that holds the jersey down had torn. Seeing that the strap had clearly torn, what do the officials do?


The game misconduct still applies. Any latitude the officials may have had in this situation is if the torn strap had been noticed by the officials during or brought to their attention immediately following the altercation. Rule 46.13


It is important to know that in the event where a player’s jersey is properly “tied down” but that during the course of the fight, the “tied down” strap brakes allowing the jersey to be removed, the Game Misconduct shall not be applied here if witnessed by any of the on-ice officials. All good officials have a check list to go over when a fight starts, including getting a visual of the “tied down” strap to see if it is on or not, looking if the players hands are tapped, observing if the player(s) removed his helmet before the fight, etc.


Also, a player who deliberately removes his jersey prior to participating in an altercation shall be assessed a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct. This is in addition to other penalties to be assessed to the participants of an altercation. If the altercation never materializes, the player would receive a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a ten-minute misconduct for deliberately removing his jersey.



See you next Monday!



Every Monday during the regular season schedule, we will explain in this column some bizarre or uncommon game situations/rules. Hockey is a particular game when it comes to the rulebook. Hockey officials need to know their rules but more important they have to know the interpretation and application of them! We will see in the next several months, in this series of articles, that a rule hassometimes two different applications depending on the situation that occurred on the ice. This is not theofficialsdeciding on the outcome of the gameshere, by deciding to apply or not the rule, but is rather the interpretation and the application of that rule along with itsintent that dictatesthe final decision made by the officials on the ice! This is not a column to promote or defend our officials but rather an educational tool for all hockey fans and hockey officials to acquire a better understanding of the game of hockey! So let’s start to see if you know your NHL rules! Wewill help you better understand some decisions made by NHL officials some nights and hopefully making you better “couch” referee!