Rule 57c:

“No substitution of players shall be permitted until the face-off has been completed and play has resumed, except when a penalty is imposed which will make a team short-handed.” (Canadian Hockey Referee’s Case Book/Rule Combination, 2001, pg. 148).

Once players have been properly changed, no further substitution may be made until the face off has been completed and play has resumed, unless, in the time prior to the face off, a penalty has been imposed which will make one of the teams short-handed.

This rule has been put in place in order to allow both teams the opportunity to put their special teams players (power play and/or penalty killers) on the ice.  Most teams as you get to the upper levels have specific players that work on the penalty killing situations. Also, if you are about to go on the power play, you want your top scorers on the ice for this situation.  Therefore, if the game is about to go from a 5 on 5 situation to a 5 on 4 situation, or 4 on 4 to a 4 on 3 situation, both teams will be permitted to change players and the line change procedure will commence again.

Note:  If the on ice strength is already at 4 on 3 and then the team on the power play receives a penalty (during a stoppage of play) bringing the on ice strength to 3 on 3 then no team will be allowed to change as they are now at even strength and no team will have an advantage.

Finally, if a player from one team receives a Misconduct penalty (10 minutes) then that team will be allowed to put a player from the bench on the ice but no other players from either team will be allowed to change.  This is because a 10-minute Misconduct is not a time penalty on the play clock.  The player sits in the box for a minimum of 10 minutes and then comes out of the penalty box once play has been stopped after he has sat in the penalty box for 10 minutes.  A Misconduct does not make a team short-handed therefore the team receiving the Misconduct will have to replace the penalized player on the ice and only this player.

This is another one of those situations which rarely happens in minor hockey, but is a rule which referees must be aware of for the odd time that it does happen. As if officials don’t have enough on their minds already, just imagine how rules similar to this that there are in the book. Most coaches in the game today have no idea how this rule is written. Therefore, when it does happen, there is often the need to provide an explanation to the coach as to why he cannot make a substitution or why the other team was permitted to make one. In a lot of cases, the coach who is not aware of the rule will argue that the referee is wrong in his interpretation and this can lead to some very negative reaction from the bench and the fans, thus creating problems on the ice.