12.03.2012 10:50 AM

Hockey question, in point form

1. Son One has GTHL game last night.
2. Boy on other team goes to aggressively check him for second time in a minute.
3. Son One raises hands to protect head.
4. Son One’s arms connect with other boys’ head.
5. Son One gets first-ever major penalty and suspension, as other boy allegedly injured.
6. Other boy is off ice for a few minutes, then miraculously returns.
7. Officials do not rule that other boy is ineligible to play due to alleged injury.
8. Other boy continues to play enthusiastically.
9. Son One packs up hockey bag and we leave.
10. Questions abound.

Here’s the question: as you might expect, the severity of a penalty is determined by the seriousness of the offence. If the other boy was (fortunately) not injured at all, and was back on the ice in no time at all, does not the penalty need to be re-assessed? Am I missing something?

Hockey experts, your advice is welcome.


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    Michael S says:

    It’s a mistake, let it drop, or become one of THOSE dads.

    When I was a kid dads didn’t scream at refs during a game, they went to a nearby (often, in-building) tavern to drink eight oz. drafts until the game was over.

    Made for a SCARY ride in the Ford Torino on the way home, but it might have been for the best.

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      Dave Breukelaar says:

      I’m glad to see this response on here, right at the top. Bang on! (Pardon the pun)

      Sometimes you don’t get the right call. You can either dwell on it, or move on. It’s a hockey game. Don’t make it into something more.

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      Pat says:

      Refs NEVER reassess a call. EVER.

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    Michael says:

    It seems to me that in the last election voters did not take to Hudak because he came across as too angry and negative.

    Will the voters choose angry Sandra over angry Tim? Or will they instead choose nice Andrea? If you are trying to protect against that happening you choose one of the other candidate.

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      Warren says:

      In the wrong thread, perchance?

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        Michael says:

        Damn computers.

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    Kevin says:

    Not an expert by any means, but common sense and fairness would indicate that yeah, penalty should be re-assessed.

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      Michael S says:

      How old was the ref?

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    Seth P. says:

    The referee did the right thing. Its how the rule reads. If a player is injured on a penalty play (which any contact to the head is, regardless of circumstance) the referee MUST assess 5 and a game. There is discretion to decide if the player is actually hurt or just winded, but once that is decided the call cannot be changed whether the player returns to play or not. There is no flexibility in the rule book to allow for a reassessment of penalty. Potentially a flaw in the rule but the referee did what they were supposed to. I’m a ref. I’ve been there before. Not an easy call.

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    Ted H says:

    Hockey is obviously crooked from the top of Bettman’s office ceiling to the cement under the ice in a local rink. Your son has learned the bitter truth, he will learn from it an become stronger.

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      billg says:

      Tell that to the 100,000 volunteers who know that 95% of the kids playing hockey are playing it because its fun. What a dumb thing to say.

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    billg says:

    As a minor and junior hockey coach for 22 years let me try to help.
    That was a referee’s worst nightmare, he has to make the call based on what happens after the hit in the first 15 seconds. The player may have been hurt a bit but obviously it wasnt that bad and didnt warrant the penalty your son has to pay, but, every ref in every circumstance will err on the side of the hurt player just case. Now, contrary to what some parents will tell you, referee’s are humans and have memorys and talk, so, that young player who played it up aint gettin’ the same call anymore regardless of the hit. Lesson for your son, ask him how it feels like to be cheated out of a game by a competitor who basically faked an injury and then tell never to do that to anyone else. Sucks WK, but, with head contact its just a reality of hockey right now. Oh, and tell him to keep putting his hands up…for the love of god I dont know we stopped teaching kids to protect themselves.

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      The Other Jim says:


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        Nic coivert says:

        That’s it basically, suck it up, it may be unjust but stuff happens quickly out there and mistakes are made. Also, they’re really going over the top on head contact this year. Last night my daughter’s were playing and my eldest girl takes the puck into the corner to make a clearing play, shes’ defense, and the opposition player hooks her in the armpit, on the board side so the ref cant see, pulls her back, she falls and while falling her stick whacks the other kid in the helmet. Whistle blows, I figure we’re going on the power-play but nope, my daughter goes to box for making contact with the other players head. What can you do? Nothing. That was what the ref saw, the hook was hidden but the inadvertent blow to helmet was out in the open.

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    James Bowie says:

    In my experience, one of sports’ most important lessons is that life is not fair. Rules can be interpreted to create injustice.

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    Warren says:

    It’s not a blog.

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      Dave Ruddell says:

      How, pray thee tell, is this not a blog? It has many blog like features. If it’s not a blog, what do you consider it then?

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        smelter rat says:

        You’re new here, aren’t you 🙂

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        W the K - No, not Warren says:

        It’s a website. Everyone knows that…

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    CQ says:

    The ref had every right to harshly penalty Mayor Ford, I mean, your son. As a proper and legal authority, the referee’s determination must remain above all criticism or debate! Compliance is mandatory.
    A major and a suspension is deserved. The ref had no freewill to choose a degree of punishment. Your son’s actions caused the harm, even if/where no harm was caused.

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    Greg says:

    Have been Reffing minor hockey for, oh, 15 years or so.

    Sadly, that sounds like it was the right call. Any contact to the head is automatically a penalty for “Head Contact” (Rule 6.5). If contact is accidental, the penalty is a minor penalty, whereas if contact is deliberate, the penalty is a double-minor or major + game misconduct. 6.5(d) however states, “A Major and a Game Misconduct penalty, or a Match penalty shall be assessed any player who injures an opponent under this Rule”.

    There is no definition as to what constitutes an injury. Rule 2.6(a) (Injured Players) states, “When a player, other than a goaltender, is injured for compelled to leave the ice during a game…” While this is not defining an injury, it does allude to the fact that a player leaving the ice would be potentially considered injured.

    As referees, it’s a very tough judgement call. We aren’t doctors, we aren’t paramedics, and we aren’t getting too close to the kid who is down to evaluate him. Typically if the player is down and leaves the ice, we’ll consider it an injury. And if he comes back… it sucks, we hate it as much as anybody else, and typically that’ll be noted on the incident report form we fill out.

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    Tyrone says:

    WK commenters, I’m damn proud of you – excellent advice all around. Even Ted H. can be excused as the NHL lockout drags on and on. This site isn’t often considered a spot that renews one’s faith in humanity, but lo…

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    michael hale says:

    Penalty called. Fine. Suspension follows because of designation as Major due to severity of injury. If ref calls that type of major, other kid excluded from remainder of game. It seems obvious. We should be cautious with kids. If it looked serious, making him sit for the rest of the game is really the only sane thing to do. If, by the end of the evening, the other player’s health is OK, give the ref the discretion to go back and revisit the penalty. Seems pretty simple.

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    Brent Woolnough says:

    Another egregious example of mandatory minimum sentencing.

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    Jim Hanna says:

    I just took a hockey coaching coursse and I’m about to take another, and an interesting statistic they brought up was that 10,000 refs quit each year in Canada. There are a lot of new refs and young refs – and another point they made was that they don’t get to practice, they are thrown into live games.

    Which means mistakes happen and it has to be expected. Everyone is learning especially in the younger leagues. It sucks for your son that he was pulled out of the game, but the ref called it the way he was taught – I don’t know if they can go back and change the penalty after the fact. As Bill G says, everyone will learn from this – and that other kid won’t get another chance to pull that nonsense.

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    JamesHalifax says:


    sounds like the “other kid” probably plays soccer as well. They teach them how to “take a div” to get the other team a penalty.

    Tell your son, the next time he gets a penalty because of this kid……..make sure he deserves it.

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      Ted H says:

      I rest my case, as stated above, and I am vindicated.

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        JamesHalifax says:

        Hey Ted….

        It’s hockey……not ping pong.

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    Patrick says:

    Based on your highly subjective (you’re a parent, after all) sequence of events, I can make the following observations:

    a) “Aggressively” checking someone in hockey is legal, irrespective of whether it occurs once, twice, or three times in a minute. In fact it is encouraged. If it was a dirty or illegal hit, that changes things of course, but if the puck is playable and within a reasonable distance of the players, it’s a good, clean hit. I didn’t see the play, so I can’t comment. When parents use the term “aggressively” rather than illegally, as someone of even your familiarity with the rules does above, it can often be interpreted as them knowing the hit was clean but simply hating to see their kid get hit. Understandable. Again, didn’t see the play so can’t comment meaningfully, though if the original hits were illegal, I’m sure you’d have noted it.

    b) When parents say their kid “raises hands to protect head” subsequently, “making contact with the other player’s head” that could in good faith mean everything from an actual, limited defensive move, to a subtle crosscheck, to a haymaker punch to a wild, lumber-jack style two-hander. The ref obviously interpreted this defensive action as being excessive, dangerous and illegal.

    c) Under Ontario rules, the penalty is in no way linked to the extent (or veracity) of injury except in cases of attempt to injure. The ref is supposed to just make the call as he sees it. Feigned injuries, up to and including Totti-style team Italia circa-2006 action, are inexcusable but hard to police. In general, the Angel-assisted recovery of kid X will have no bearing on the length or severity of discipline imposed on a player.

    One of those unavoidable things at that age: the physical size of kids is so inconsistent that clean hits often look terrible in context. People on the recieving end of such hits frequently retaliate in ways which aren’t permissible or safe.

    But again… having expounded at some length… didn’t see the play, so… 🙂

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    Don Cherry says:

    This is the pernicious influence of soccer aka football where drama – queen – rolling on – the – ground – theatrics – to sway the refs is an essential skill. You’re all pinko patsies anyway.

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    Etob Grit says:

    As a GTHL Alum who’s felt the same fate as your son all I can say is that when it comes to a check to the head GTHL officials are very strict. It’s an automatic 10min misconduct and it is up to the ref to determine if the player is given a major penalty and ejected. Since the other played went down, the ref has the option to give him a major.

    Not saying that I agree with it, however the ref could have given your son the major penalty because he thought the game was getting out hand IE if your son and the injured player we’re back on the ice at the same time there would have been another issues.

    All I’ll say is let it go. The ref could have been a real prick and given your son a match penalty for intent to injure, which is a 5 game suspension. With two boys in the GTHL you’ll see even more ridiculous calls as they get older which are worth fighting with the league.

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    Ty says:

    Clap him on the back and say it happens.

    Watched a GTHL game a few weeks ago that my cousin was playing in, the new rules are hard on the refs and obviously hard to apply evenly. They’re for the greater good, but we’re all human.

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      Ty says:

      Also should note, when I was 18 or so, I really hurt my knee. I tried to get up after I hurt it, and the pain was, well, shudder worthy even after all these years.

      I’ve gone down twice in the last number of years since playing hockey on minor stuff , and always, if I feel something strange, stay down for a bit before I try and get up. You never know if the kid had an injury in the past or anything.

      As parents, it’s natural to suspect things, but keep in mind, they’re just kids. If he’s a piece of work, he’ll (eventually) get what’s coming to him.

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    Dan says:

    It’s tough. I use to ref hockey and played pretty competeitively growing up so I have been on both sides of infractions like this.

    Keep in mind that most of the refs are not much older than 20 and mistakes do happen. However with any type of injury the penalty is automatically a five minute major. You don’t want ref to have to determine how severe of an injury it could be especilaly in light of all of the research on concusions. They simply arne’t trained for it and “ruling them ineligible” isn’t standard however, if there is a suspension, it will be taken into account for the length or serverity of it for your son.

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