and hooking are two nuisance infractions in hockey. They are not
considered serious with respect to potential for injury, but can be
serious in that they are techniques employed by players to impede the
progress or movement of opponents. Often, a tripping or hooking action is
the result of a player being beaten by a faster, more skilled opponent.
They are also considered to be lazy, selfish penalties because of the fact
that a player will trip or hook instead of trying to skate harder to catch
have difficulty with tripping and hooking precisely because they occur so
often during the course of a game. If you call every trip and hook, the
penalty box would be full.
many times during the course of a game do you see a puck carrier skating
through the neutral zone hooked or tripped with no penalty call being
made? Next time this happens, take a look and see if there are other
opponents who had to be faced besides the one doing the hooking or
tripping. Usually, there are at least two or three others who stand
between the puck carrier and the net. Unless there is a clear path to the
net, most referees will view a hook or a trip in the neutral zone as a
non-critical infraction which does not warrant a penalty because of the
fact that it did not take away a scoring opportunity.
If you say that the rule book still call it a trip or a hook
regardless of where the infraction took place, you are correct.
Nevertheless, the nature of the game today does not allow for “calling
by the book” unless a referee wants to see five or six players from each
side sitting in the penalty box all night.
However, if a player
is tripped in the neutral zone and this trip has caused him to turn the
puck over to the other team, thereby creating a 2 on 1 or a breakaway, you
are more likely to see the arm go up and watch the referee assess a
tripping or hooking call against the offending player. This is why you may
see referees put their hands up a couple of seconds late on a neutral zone
trip or hook. The referee likes to see what has developed from the trip
before he assesses a penalty. A hooking call in the neutral zone that does
nothing to change the flow of the game, or does not give one team an
advantage over the other is not likely to be called. Hockey purists may
disagree with this philosophy, however it falls once again within the
realm of game management and the best referees are the best game managers.
example of this occurred in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Men’s Gold
Medal Game. A Canadian player
tripped an American player who was trying to skate down the ice with no
teammates behind him, and then Mario Lemieux picked up the puck and would
have had a breakaway. All the
fans were screaming and yelling, not because of the penalty call, but
because the referee put his arm up a couple of seconds after the actual
trip. He put his arm up in
the air when Lemieux picked up the puck. In other words, the very
experienced referee would not have called the penalty had the action not
caused a dangerous turnover. The referee had no other choice but to make
the call or else a goal may have been scored as a result of Lemieux
getting an unfair advantage from the trip. This is why you may see
referees put their hands up a couple of seconds late on a neutral zone
trip or hook. The referee
likes to see what has developed from the trip before he assesses a
penalty. A hooking call in the neutral zone which does nothing to change
the flow of the game or does not give one team an advantage over the other
is not worth calling. Hockey
purists may disagree with this philosophy, however it falls once again
within the realm of game management and the best referees are the best
you, if the player really yanked on the puck carrier causing his feet to
fly in the air then the referee does not have much of a choice but to call
the penalty since everybody has seen it.
The iffy trips and hooks that cause players to fall down and
turnover the puck are the ones that tend to go uncalled or cause the
referee to raise his arm a little late.
These are the trips and hooks where the referees like to see how
the play is going to develop before assessing a penalty.
are more likely to see an iffy trip or hook called as soon as it happens
if it occurs in front of the net or if a player only has one player to
beat to get a good scoring opportunity.
The greater the chance of a player being denied a good scoring
opportunity, the greater the chance of a penalty being called.
Hooking, tripping, clutching and grabbing have increased so much in
the game of hockey today that the number of goals scored has been
drastically reduced. Hockey is a defensive game today, whereas it was once
a game of offense. As a result, referees are more likely to punish a
player who takes a good scoring opportunity away, than a player who
tripped a player that would not have an impact on the score.
are probably thinking, that’s not right. What if the player in the
neutral zone hadn’t been tripped? He might have been able to get around
the other players and score a goal? Maybe.
But the opportunity to score is better the closer you get to the
net. This is why you may see the same type of trip or hook called in the
defending zone around the net, but not in the neutral zone.
same thing holds true for players who are trying to break out of their own
end. The closer the turnover
occurs around the net, the greater the chance that the penalty will be
called against the attacking team for tripping or hooking a defending
player near his net.
you fall victim to the urge to yell at a referee for a non-call, make sure
you ask yourself if the infraction had any real impact on the outcome of
the developing play. Sometimes being a good referee is all about knowing
when to keep the whistle out of your mouth.