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Thursday, January 6
Updated: February 7, 5:46 PM ET
NHL Rules! Glossary of penalties


When a referee assesses a penalty, there are varying degrees of punishment. A penalty can have a duration of two, four, five or 10 minutes.

Minor penalties are erased by an opponent's goal, but major ones are not. For example, a two-minute penalty is a "minor" infraction, while a five-minute penalty is a "major." Match penalties, game misconducts and gross misconducts result in an ejection from the game. A delayed penalty is when the referee waits to stop play for a penalty until the offending team gains possession of puck.

Boarding: Any player who checks an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently into the boards (2 minutes,5 or a game misconduct).

Broken Stick: No skater may play with a broken/partial stick with the exception of the goaltender (2).

Peter Forsberg
Colorado's Peter Forsberg performs a textbook trip on Detroit's Darren McCarty.

Butt-ending: Striking an opponent with the top of the shaft of the stick in a jabbing motion (4,5 and GM).

Charging: Skating, jumping or charging violently into an opposing player (2,5).

Checking from behind: Hitting a player on the back part of the body when that player is unable to defend himself (5 and GM).

Clipping: A player who uses his body to hit an opponent across or below the knees. (2,5 and GM).

Cross Checking: A check delivered with both hands on the stick with arms extended at the time of impact (2,4,5 and GM).

Delay of game: Deliberately shooting puck out of rink. Intentionally displacing net. Falling or closing hand on puck outside of crease area. Stalling the start of play (Bench Minor - 2 minutes).

Diving: A player who attempts to draw a penalty by his deliberately falling (2).

Elbowing: Use of an extended elbow to hit opponent (2,5 and GM).

High sticking: Striking opponent with stick above shoulders (2,4,5 and GM).

Holding: Use of hands or arms to impede an opponent's progress (2).

Holding the stick: A player is not permitted to hold an opponent's stick (2).

Hooking: Use of the stick to impede the progress of an opponent (2).

Illegal stick:

Maximum Length: 63 inches
Maximum Length of Blade: 12.5 inches
Maximum Width of Blade: 3 inches
Minimum Width of Blade: 2 inches
Maximum Curvature: half inch

Maximum Length: unlimited
Maximum Length of Blade: 15.5 inches
Maximum Width of Blade: 3.5 inches (4.5 at heel)
Maximum curvature: unlimited
Minimum knob: half inch

Interference: Impeding progress of an opponent who does not have the puck (2).

Kneeing: Striking an opponent with the knee (2,5 and GM).

Roughing: Excessive pushing or shoving (2,4).

Slashing: Swinging the stick at an opponent, regardless of whether contact is made (2,5 and GM).

Spearing: Stabbing at an opponent with the point of the stick blade regardless of whether contact is made (4,5 and GM).

Tripping: A player who uses his stick or any part of his body to cause an opponent to trip and fall (2).

Unsportsmanlike conduct: A player who challenges or disputes the rulings of an official and abuses the line of respect (2).

Penalty shot: Certain penalties result in a player being allowed to skate in unimpeded on the goalie for a shot. Once the player crosses the blue line, he cannot make any backward movement. The call is under the referee's discretion; it is a judgment call. Penalty shots are awarded when:

1. A defending player deliberately dislodges the net from its moorings during a breakaway.

2. A defending player intentionally dislodges the net from its moorings when the penalty cannot be served in its entirety during regulation time.

3. There is a deliberate and illegal substitution when a penalty cannot be served in its entirety during regulation time.

4. There is a foul from behind on breakaway.

5. A player falls on the puck in the goal crease.

6. A player picks up the puck in the goal crease with his hand.

7. Throwing or shooting of object at puck in defending zone.

8. A player on a breakaway is interfered with by an object shot or thrown by defending team.

9. A player on a breakaway is interfered with by player who has illegally entered game.

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