occurs when a player uses his stick to either intimidate or contact
a player with a swinging action of his stick.
A penalty will be called a slash if a player swings his stick
with a certain degree of force hitting an opposing player below the
shoulder level. If the
stick contacts a player above this level then High Sticking is
usually called. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Any yet, the
action of slashing a player has developed into an art form at all
levels of hockey. It is perhaps one of the most misunderstood of all
infractions and is the cause of many outbreaks in hockey games.
has been part of hockey since it was first invented. It is usually
considered one of those “lazy” actions done by players who would
rather slash an instead of skating after him.
Throughout the course of a game there are several slashes
that occur and there are also several slashes that are not called by
the Referee, even if he sees the infraction
look more closely at what a referee looks at in deciding when to
call a slashing penalty.
SLICE OR SLAP
are two ways in which a player might hit another player with a
stick. Either with the
stick flat against the person in a ‘slapping fashion’ or in a
‘slicing fashion” using the edge of the hockey stick or blade.
hockey stick is designed like a rectangle. It has four edges/corners
and four flat surfaces. When a stick is lying flat on the ground
with the blade pointing up into the air, the sides of the stick are
slightly longer than the bottom and top of the stick.
Think of what you would rather get hit with - the edge of the
stick or the flat surfaces of the stick.
a flat part of the stick is used to slash a player, a referee will
seldom call a penalty. You can pick out this type of slash by
looking at the blade when a stick hits a player. If the flat part of
the stick were to contact the shin pads then it would look as though
the entire blade would have contacted the shin pads at the same
time. The entire blade, if it were not curved, would contact flush
with the players shin pads at the exact same time.
This type of slash does not look as bad to a Referee because
more of the stick is hitting the player all at once, and therefore,
the body is not taking a blow in one area. The shin pad or body is
taking a blow that is more spread out and this will disperse the
force of the slash to a greater extent, making the slash not as
damaging to the player.
when a referee sees a player turn his stick so that the edge of the
stick is going to contact the player, this looks much worse and may
cause more pain since the small area that is receiving the blow will
not be able to disperse the force.
reason for this looking bad is that a person is able to achieve a
greater force behind the slash when he tries to hit a person with
the edge or bottom of his stick as opposed to the flat part of his
stick. When you hit a player with the side of the stick or the flat
part of the blade, your hands are turned over and you cannot
generate as much force because you cannot flick the stick at the end
of the slash.
can actually demonstrate this for yourself. Take a hockey stick in a
shooting position (hands spread apart) and slash an object (please
use an object and not another person), first with the flat side of
the stick and then with the edge or bottom of the stick.
See which method will result in the most force against a
person’s body. Hitting someone with the edge or bottom of a stick
can cause much more damage and therefore hitting someone with the
edge of the stick in a chopping motion is penalized more often
because it can cause greater damage to the player being slashed.
it is true that players should use neither method and both qualify
under the strict interpretation of the rules as slashing
infractions, the nature of hockey today would not permit
zero-tolerance with respect to slashing. There is just too much of
it going on. Players would be in the penalty box all game long and
it would simply create an emotionally charged climate in which few
referees could cope well. Nevertheless, a player who turns his blade
on its side before a slash and then chops an opponent with the edge
of the stick is just asking for it and usually will get the call. A
referee will allow most slashing with the flat part of the blade,
but few will put up with a “wood-chopper”.
THE FORCE OF THE SLASH
force of the slash is always given serious consideration by a
referee when deciding if he should assess a penalty to a player.
Furthermore, it is the force and power of the stick when it
hits the player that is looked at more than the speed of the stick
on the actual approach to the body.
when players set up to slash an opponent they will use a flicking
motion that will in fact apply a very small amount of force to the
player being slashed. This
type of slash is hardly ever penalized because the intent of the
player doing the slashing is more to annoy the other player than to
impede his progress.
of course, you have the slash where a player will swing his stick
from one side of his body to the other side.
The stick may travel a meter or further in the air before it
contacts the opposing player. These are the slashes that have a
larger degree of force because as the stick travels a greater
distance, it is able to pick up speed and therefore the force is
rather intense when contact is made.
It is this type of slash that is most often penalized because
the greater the force of the stick contacting an opposing player,
the more that player’s progress is impeded, and the greater the
risk of injury to the player being slashed. When a player is slashed
with this kind of force he will often look immediately to the
referee to see if a penalty is being called. If not, the player will
usually strike back in an “eye-for-an-eye” fashion. More often
than not this simply encourages the original slasher to strike again
and the referee ends up sending both players to the box.
THE PART OF THE BODY BEING SLASHED
the part of the stick making actual contact and the force of the
blow, the location on the body is also a major consideration in
whether or not to call a slashing penalty.
you all know, players are covered from head to toe with equipment
that can practically stop a speeding bullet.
Nevertheless, there are also parts on the player’s body
that are not as well protected.
These areas include: behind the lower legs; the ankles and
top of the feet; between the top of the shin pad and the pants; the
lower back and stomach; the wrists; and the neck area.
These areas of the body are the most vulnerable to injuries
because of the limited protection. Equipment manufacturers
have to leave space for mobility, so there has to be some areas of
the body left almost defenseless.
a player slashes an opponent on the shin pads or the pants, a loud
sound may be produced so that the entire arena hears the smack, but
the actual slash may not have been that bad.
If a player is skating into a slash, then the slash will look
worse than if the player was standing still.
Too often coaches, players, and fans get upset because a loud
sound was produced by a soft slash.
The slashes on the equipment may look bad and sound loud but
these slashes will rarely be called unless a player took a baseball
swing at his opponent.
should a referee penalize a player for a light slash that made a
loud sound? Shouldn’t
the Referee call the slashes to the wrists and back of the legs
where even a hard slash will barely make a sound?
The answer is obvious, and most referees are prone to give
zero tolerance to players who aim at the more vulnerable areas of
one player tries to slash another player in one of the vulnerable
areas, this slash will more often than not be called immediately,
while the loud sounding slash against the shin pads will most often
be allowed to go without penalty.
If the slash on the shin pads did not impede the player’s
progress, then why should a penalty be called?
The next time you are at a hockey game, look to see if a
Referee assesses a penalty for a light slash on the shin pads. The
chances are that the Referee will assess the light slash in the back
of the leg before he calls the slash on the shin pad, precisely
because it will hurt the victim much more than the slash on the pad.
POSITION OF HANDS ON THE STICK
factor has deals with the natural laws of physics with respect to
the force that can be generated from leverage.
of these situations do you think will have more force? A player who
slashes an opponent with his hands spread apart or with his hands
close together at the butt-end of the stick. The answer is the
player with his hands close together at the butt-end of his stick.
think of how many home runs Babe Ruth would have hit if he had one
hand at the bottom of the bat and his other hand a foot away up the
bat. Lets just say that
we would not know who Babe Ruth was if he hit like that.
The same science applies to hockey, not for shooting, but for
a player has his hands spread a couple of feet apart, he cannot
possibly generate as much leverage when he swings the stick as when
his hands are together. If
he can’t generate maximum leverage, then the force and speed of
the stick won’t be as great, and the slash will not hurt the
opposing player or impede his progress as much as a more powerful
a referee sees a player move his lower hand (the hand closest to the
blade of the stick) up the shaft of the stick close to his other
hand that is located near the butt-end of the stick, immediately the
referee knows that the intention of the player is not to annoy the
opposing player but to intentionally slash the player with a greater
amount of force.
is this type of slash that results in a player being assessed Major
and Game Misconduct, or Match penalties. When a player moves his
hands together to slash an opponent, he will generate much more
force and therefore he is knowingly putting the other player at a
greater risk of an injury. When
a player takes a ‘baseball swing’ at an opposing player, the
referee usually does not think twice about assessing, at the very
minimum a minor penalty. More often than not the referee will begin
thinking seriously about a major.
WHERE THE SLASH OCCURS ON THE ICE
will be more willing to assess a penalty for slashing if a slash
impedes a player who has a reasonable scoring chance, as opposed to
a player who is in the neutral zone with two or three more players
to beat. Any time an infraction creates an advantage over the other
team, a penalty is more likely to be called.
instance, consider a situation whereby Kariya has just entered his
attacking zone and is going wide on the defenseman, Brewer.
Kariya gets around Brewer and is now cutting into the front
of the net with no one else but the goalie to beat.
Brewer realizes this and slashes Kariya across the shin pads
causing Kariya to fall to the ice and slide right past the net
without even getting a shot off.
Brewer would be assessed a Minor penalty for this because he
denied a good scoring opportunity for Kariya.
When a player is denied a scoring opportunity such as this
one, the referee will usually award the team victimized by the
slash, a power play or if it is a breakaway, a Penalty Shot.
in this situation, since Brewer sort of slashed and tripped Kariya
at the same time, the Referee is more likely to assess Brewer with a
slashing penalty as opposed to a tripping penalty.
The reason for this is that in minor hockey, when a player
receives three stick penalties, he is usually ejected from the game.
For example, if a player received a high sticking penalty and a
slashing penalty on the same stoppage of play, it would count as two
of the three penalties. Therefore, by calling a slashing penalty
instead of tripping, the referee is causing the player to think
twice about using his stick illegally during the rest of the game.
This is another game management technique utilized by experienced
common misconception of fans is that a player needs three separate
trips to the penalty box in order to be ejected for stick
infractions. In most
jurisdictions, this is not true. If a player was to receive a Minor
for crosschecking, a Minor for slashing, and a Minor for high
sticking on the same play, he would be ejected from the game because
he has received three separate stick penalties, even though it was
only one trip to the penalty box.
look at all of the above factors, as well as the time left in the
game and the score, when deciding whether or not to assess a penalty
for slashing. What you
must keep in mind is that the Referee only has a split second to
consider all of the above points prior to making a decision as to
whether or not he will assess a penalty.
Perhaps the most important problem the referee has to
consider is the view he had of the situation. He may not even have
seen the slash or the contact with the body. Everybody else in the
arena may have seen it, but if his view was obstructed, he cannot
call the penalty. He must see it to call it.
This is something to be aware of when you feel like
criticizing an official for missing a call. From your vantage point,
it may have been in perfect view. From where the referee was
standing on the ice, it may have been completely different.
will mention this ‘reality’ many times in this book. A referee
is only human, and yet we expect superhuman performance. It would
take a well-tuned computer to assess all of the possibilities and
options that occur on a single slashing infraction. The position of
the stick; the location on the body; the force; the intent; the
position of the player on the ice; the time of the game; the score;
the resulting scoring chance lost or gained; the reputation of the
player; the three-strikes-you’re out rule; the situation of the
game; game management; whether he actually saw the infraction –
you get the picture. A senior referee will make this judgment call
instantaneously. A less experienced referee may still be thinking
about the call while the puck is heading down the ice and the fans
are yelling. It’s not easy.