Fraser: Questions on coincidental majors and minors

Kerry Fraser
6/4/2013 2:27:47 PM
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Hey Kerry,
I have a question that is probably pretty minor regarding all that goes on in the playoffs, but it still confused me.
Is there a rule to prevent fighters from getting into it immediately out of the box? I could be wrong but after serving coincidental majors, isn't it a requirement that both guys begin the next shift on the bench to head off any potential silliness?  As Evgeni Malkin (in Game 1) came from the box having served his major he took a position at the very next faceoff.  Like I said, I thought this was against the rules.
Anyway, thanks for reading.
Paul Kozyn
Hi Paul:

No question is ever too minor to ask or to answer.

There is no rule that restricts players from participating in the very next shift once they have served major penalties for fighting. As you know players are not allowed out of the penalty box until after the first whistle following the expiration of their coincidental major penalties. What takes place at this point is for the penalty box door attendant to hold the "fighters" in their respective box until the linesmen (one or both) arrive on the scene to keep them separated and if necessary escort them to their players' bench.

The readiness and intervention by the Linesmen wasn't always standard operating procedure and many times I witnessed players continue the fight as soon as they were released from the penalty box. Once the players started to go at it a second time I made a point of instructing the Linesmen to let the fight go the full distance!

My objective in this unwritten procedure was two fold: 

i) Hoping the protracted slugfest would allow the adversaries to get hostilities for one another fully out of their system;

ii)  To send a message to other would-be combatants that might want to start something (but not really) should they feel a sense of 'security' through any anticipated quick intervention by the linesmen. Usually the sight of two heavyweights being allowed to slug it out in a three minute round while the zebras stood around the ring restored a calming effect to the game.

Whenever players exited the penalty box and immediately restarted the fight I always assessed 10 minute misconduct penalties in addition to their second majors for fighting as a result of continuing the fight. (46.5)
By virtue of rule 46.10 if a fight was to break out prior to the drop of the puck during the course of a normal face-off, the altercation shall be penalized as if it occurred during the regular playing time.

Back in the day, the three most feared words in hockey by many was when the Ref said to the Linesmen, "Let 'Em Go!"  

I received two requests for a clarification on the same rule in the past day from two different sources. Last night Matt Loughlin, an executive with the NJ Devils, passed the question along from one of their fans. This morning, my son Matthew, a fire fighter in London, Ontario passed along the same question from his crew at the fire hall.

The question is:   

"When coincidental minor penalties are called, sometimes the teams play a man short (4 on 4) and sometimes they stay 5 on 5.  What determines whether it is 4 on 4 or 5 on 5?"

There is only one situation that applies where the teams play 4 on 4 when minor penalties are assessed at the same stoppage of play. It is found in rule 19.1 which states, "When one minor penalty is assessed to one player of each team at the same stoppage in play, these penalties will be served without substitution provided there are no penalties in effect and visible on the clock. Both teams will therefore play four skaters against four skaters for the duration of the minor penalties."

The only other penalty to be assessed to allow this situation to exist would be a misconduct penalty in addition to the minor to one or both players at which point the team(s) would place a substitute in the box immediately to serve the minor penalty.

When multiple minor penalties are assessed or minor penalties to multiple players from each team the Referee would cancel out as many minor, bench minor or double-minor penalties as possible; which if equal would result in the teams playing 5 on 5.

There you have it, one minor penalty to one player of each team at the same stoppage of play where no penalties are being served on the score clock results in 4 on 4 numerical strength!

This also applies if Team A player receives a minor penalty at the 8:00 minute mark and following the line changes (power play & penalty killing unit) but prior to the puck drop Team B receives a minor penalty, these two minor penalties are served and the teams will play 4 on 4 as per this rule. The teams are allowed to make additional line changes following Team B receiving the minor penalty.  (Theory: penalties assessed at same stoppage of play since 8:00 minutes remains on the game clock.) The resulting face-off would then take place at the nearest face-off dot where the play was stopped to assess the original minor infraction.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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