THE GAME WITHOUT RULES
the game of hockey when there were no rules. Go all the way back to the
first time a bunch of guys got together on the ice with some makeshift
sticks and a homemade puck. They simply dropped the puck and then took
turns passing, stickhandling and shooting, all trying to score the most
goals. There were no rules, except for the rules about how to score goals.
All of the rules were about offense. And in that first game, the players
respected each other enough that if they did something that didn’t seem
right, they simply apologized and went on playing.
as time went on and the game became more and more popular, it attracted
players who were less skilled than some on the opposing team. These less
skilled players tried to do things to compensate for their lack of skill
in order to prevent the more skilled players from scoring. Thus, you had
tripping, hooking, holding and interference infractions that had to be
stopped. So, rules were made which made these actions illegal and anyone
who did such a thing was made to sit out on a chair all by himself –
very much like the “dunce chair” in old time school stories.
the game attracted some players who were not only less skilled, but who
were jealous and vengeful. They didn’t like to be “shown up” by the
skilled players, and so they began to engage in activities that were
designed to punish skilled players and cause pain. Thus, you began to see
cross checking, high sticking, spearing, slashing and checking from
order to protect their star players, teams began to select “enforcers”
and thus you had roughing and fighting added to the mix. If you were going
to get physical with the star players, you had to be prepared to answer to
the tough guy on the other team.
day hockey rule books are filled with rules and penalties which have
evolved right from the very first game. And every time someone finds a way
to “cheat the system”, a new rule is created. The most skilled players
today are the players who have learned how to bend the rules the best in
order to make themselves look good on the ice and prevent the truly
skilled players from scoring. There are so
many rules today that many of them cannot be called and as a
result, the biggest, toughest, meanest players are the ones who are chosen
to play on the elite teams. They may not be the ones who can skate the
fastest, or shoot the puck the hardest, but they can survive the
punishment in front of the net and can dish out the hard checks. They are
the ones who can battle along the boards and who can crash the goalie
looking for rebounds in order to win the game 1 to 0 or 2 to 1.
most leagues today, a good coach can take a mediocre team and teach them
how to be competitive on just about every level. If they play a system,
and if they learn how to use the rules to their advantage, they can match
goals with the best of teams.
too bad hockey had to develop in this manner, but that is what happened
and now all we can do is live with it and accept rules as a fact of life.
After The Whistle Hockey Handbook is designed to provide you with a better
understanding of some of the more important playing rules of hockey and
how referees are likely to interpret them throughout the course of a
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, if you have ever been to a
hockey game, you know that there is nothing simple about the rules of
hockey and how they are administered.
order for players, coaches, parents and hockey fans to truly appreciate
the finer points of the game, it is essential that a basic understanding
of the rules be developed. However, in this case, a ‘little bit of
knowledge’ can be almost as bad as no knowledge at all.
fact, you can generally identify the people in the stands who do not know
the rules. They are the ones who say very little during the game. When
they yell and scream, it is usually a few seconds after others around them
begin. And they are the ones who seem to look puzzled while they are
yelling, often leaning over to ask what happened. They are followers and
often they follow the wrong people.
there are the people who have just enough knowledge about the rules to
make them dangerous. These are the fans that give you the impression that
they know everything there is about hockey, and yet if you listen closely,
you realize that they really and truly don’t have a clue. I say they are
dangerous because they react without thinking to just about anything that
goes against their own players. They are loud, obnoxious, and get everyone
we have the true experts. These are the fans who understand the rulebook
from cover to cover. They also know how the game is supposed to be managed
and personally have a solid understanding of the intricacies of the sport.
When they speak out, you should listen, but they don’t react often.
There are always one or two of these people watching every game. Referees
can spot them and actually respect them. When you hear their voices, they
either have seen something that needs to be addressed, or they are picking
their spot for strategic purposes.
I was coaching I always told my players to concentrate on the game and let
me worry about the referee. I told them that I couldn’t score goals, so
if I was ejected from the contest it wouldn’t matter much. Also, I told
them that I knew just when to let up and just what to say to get a point
across. Finally, I let them know that even though it might look as if I
was upset at times, I would never allow myself to get angry. When you know
the rules, you are always in control of your emotions and you know when
and how to get your point across.
Referees respect people like this and will listen.
goal is to bring everyone who reads this Hockey Handbook and the companion
full-length internet book on our web site at www.afterthewhistle.com as
close to the ‘expert’ category as possible. I shudder to think that by
reading this book some people may end up with just enough knowledge to be
in the dangerous category, but I will keep my fingers crossed and hope
that we can do a good job of helping you become an expert.
we begin to examine some of the more important rules, one thing you have
to keep in mind is that no matter how well you know the rules, and no
matter how obvious the infraction may seem at times from your point of
view, the referee is the critical person in the contest. The game will be
called from his point of view - no two referees are alike and no referee
can see everything that happens on the ice. If a call is not made that you
feel should have been made, before you react, remember that the infraction
may not have looked as bad from where the referee was standing. The
referee may not have seen the infraction or may not have felt that a
penalty was warranted due to the game situation or for a multitude of
you become better educated through this section, remember to keep your
priorities straight. The knowledge and insight you gain is to be used to
get more enjoyment out of the game, not to pick on referees.