The Cross-Check Jab in the Back

This is another dangerous move that occurs very rarely in hockey.  It can result in serious injury and it usually happens because the player committing the penalty has no respect for his opponent.

This usually occurs as a defending player is skating for a puck that has been dumped into his defending zone. As the defending player turns to go chase after the puck, the attacking player is right behind him. When the two players are about five feet from the boards the attacking player will give a little cross-check jab to the back of the defending player.

This causes the defending player to lose his balance and often end up crashing into the boards. When the two players are skating at full speed, it doesn’t take much of a jab in the back to push a player off balance and out of control. This move has resulted in broken bones, concussions and even broken backs and necks. 

A Referee has quite a few options with this type of dangerous move.  Since it is usually a cross check jab, the Referee may go with the Minor, Major plus a Game Misconduct, or Match penalty for cross checking.  He can also go with the three options for hitting from behind because the hit did occur from behind.  A Minor plus a Game Misconduct, Major plus a Game Misconduct, or Match penalty for Checking From Behind may be assessed. 

Put yourself in the Referee’s position for the next paragraph. If an infraction like this jab to the back occurs and the player goes into the boards head first but is not injured, you may want to go with the Minor penalty plus an automatic Game Misconduct for Checking From Behind instead of the Minor penalty for Cross Checking.  Why?  Because there is no place in the game for a person who is going to resort to such a dangerous, cowardly move. Referees do not have any respect for this kind of player and have zero tolerance when this happens. 

As soon as it becomes a Major penalty the player is automatically removed from the game.  So the Referee may want to penalize this coward to the extent that he is out of the game but not penalize the team. This is why a Minor penalty would be optional when the player was not hurt, but the Game Misconduct accompanied with a Checking From Behind penalty sends a greater message to the players in the game.  Cowardly, dirty, dangerous players will not be tolerated and will be removed!