Week 17 – Special Sticks

NHL Rules

Rule / Situation of the week

Welcome back! This week’s column will once again feature the goalkeepers, to be more specific; their sticks!

As per rule 10.2; the blade of the goalkeeper’s stick shall not exceed three and one-half inches (31/2”) in width at any point except at the heel, where it must not exceed four and one-half inches (41/2”) in width; nor shall the goalkeeper’s stick exceed fifteen and one-half inches (151/2”) in length from the heel to the end of the blade.

Also, there is to be no measurement of any of the dimensions of the goalkeeper’s stick during the course of the game. The League’s Hockey Operations Department is specifically authorized to make a check of all goalkeepers’ sticks. This Department makes regular checks during the course of the season without notice to the teams to ensure the compliance with this rule and also to make sure the rest of the goalkeeper’s equipment is complying as well.



At a stoppage of play, Team A asks the Referee to measure the curvature of the blade of Team B goalkeeper. What does the Referee do?


The referee will inform Team A coach that there’s no measurement of any of the dimensions of the goalkeeper’s stick during the course of the game as per the rules. If he as a concern with the Team B goalkeeper’s stick he can contact the League’s Hockey Operations Department who is the governing body in this regard. Rule 10.2


Rule 10.2 also states:In the case of a goalkeeper’s stick, there shall be a knob of white tape or some other protective material approved by the League. This knob must not be less than one-half inch (1/2”) thick at the top of the shaft.

So why does the goalkeeper’s knob has to be made of white tape rather than any other colors? The answer is simple; so that the officials or the video judge don’t confuse the knob of the stick for the puck. Back in the days, before video reviews were established, there has been times where the referee awarded a goal thinking he saw the puck hitting the net in the top corner but in reality it was the knob of the stick of the goalkeeper which was made of black tape that struck the inside of his own goal! Let’s also remember that back then, the goalkeepers didn’t stick handle the puck as well as they do today and that they use to do a lot more poke-check plays, so for those reasons, some of them had quite large knobs at the end of their stick. Those knobs were almost as big as the puck itself making it very confusing in real time for any officials not in good position to determine if it was the knob or the puck that entered the net. The same applies still today for video reviews. If the puck is close to the goal line and the knob of the stick of the goalkeeper is right there too, it could be confusing as well for the video judge to differentiate the two on the over-head camera.



At a stoppage of play, team B coach inform the referee that Team A goalkeeper’s knob is made of orange tape. What does the Referee do?


Failure to comply with this provision of the rule will result in the goalkeeper’s stick being deemed unfit for play. The goalkeeper’s stick must be changed without the application of a minor penalty. Rule 10.2


Did you know that the goalkeeper is the only player that can play with a broken stick? The goalkeeper may continue to play with a broken stick until a stoppage of play or until he has one legally handed to him by a teammate. The reason behind this? Well let’s just say that it would be hard for him in the second and overtime period to get a new stick at his own player’s bench, as he would have to cross the red line to do so!!!


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!