What Is A Dangle In Hockey? [Answered!]

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Hockey, the game. There are few things more American than spending a crisp fall day wrapped in a cozy blanket, a beverage, and good old fashioned hockey frenzy.

The game itself is pretty simple: two teams, each trying to score as many goals as possible within a two-minute duration. The first person to reach five goals wins.

The buildup to the game, however, is anything but simple. There are so many rules and regulations that govern the game of hockey. One of the most intriguing – and controversial – rules is known as the dangle rule.

What Is The Dangle Rule In Hockey?

Basically, the dangle rule bans tripping, hooking, and holding on to the puck once the puck is behind your player. The idea behind the rule is to reduce the amount of injuries to the players due to rough play in the NHL. Before the dangle rule, players would frequently get tripped, hooked, or held down by the opposition, which resulted in many injuries – from broken bones to head trauma to knee injuries.

So, the idea behind the dangle rule is to reduce the amount of injuries to the players due to rough play.

There is, of course, some debate around the interpretation of the dangle rule. Some believe that it should only apply to checking from behind, while others feel that holding onto the puck after checking is a violation as well. The rule is often cited as one of the reasons why the NHL is known as a “contact sport.”

When Does The Dangle Rule Go Into Effect?

The dangle rule is a rule of the NHL that is applied to all regular season games. For intra-conference games (e.g., Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks or Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres), the rule does not apply. For inter-conference games (e.g., Arizona Coyotes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning), the rule does apply, but there is no specific timing for when it goes into effect.

However, it should be noted that, other than during an inter-conference game, any play that results in a change of direction of the puck (i.e., a breakout) results in the immediate application of the dangle rule.

How Do You Violate The Dangle Rule?

There are three distinct ways to violate the dangle rule:

  • Tripping
  • Hooking
  • Holding

As noted above, tripping, hooking, and holding are all violations of the dangle rule. The definition of each of these tactics is provided below.

Tripping

This occurs when a player with the ball or puck deliberately hits an opposing player. Tripping is generally frowned upon in hockey, as much as it is in other sports, for the following reasons:

  • It is dangerous. If a player trips an opposing player, there is a chance that the player might fall and injure himself or others. With the puck or ball on the board, there is even the potential for a fight to break out. Tripping is also a sign of poor sportsmanship, as it shows that the player did not play by the rules. In some cases, tripping can even lead to disqualification.
  • It is often unnecessary. Players often trip each other by mistake or if they are not paying attention to the play. If a player trips an opposing player, it is often the case that the play continues without any further incident. In other words, there is no clear need to trip the opponent.
  • It is often a sign of weakness. Some players are not skilled enough to avoid tripping, especially if they are not looking where they are going. If a player trips an opponent, it shows that the player is not strong enough to beat his opponent one-on-one. In short, tripping is a sign of desperation, not strength.
  • These are all legitimate reasons to trip another player, but it is not always the case. The bottom line is that tripping is generally frowned upon in hockey.

Hooking

This occurs when a player with the puck or ball uses their stick to deliberately poke or hook an opposing player. Like tripping, hooking is generally frowned upon in hockey. However, while tripping is a sign of bad sportsmanship, hooking is often a sign of good hockey sense. To put it differently, if you are a skilled player and you know that your opponent is not, then by all means, you should hook them! Here are some of the reasons why:

  • It forces the opponent to change their game plan. If an opponent tries to play defense and try to block the shot, they are going to have a tough time doing so if they are constantly being poked at by their teammates. They might also find it easier to give the puck or ball to a teammate to score than to prevent a goal from being scored. So, even if it is not explicitly permitted by the rules, sometimes it is considered a legitimate tactic to use in order to gain an advantage on the ice.
  • When properly used, it can create a diversion. If you are a talented player and you use your stick to deliberately poke or hook your opponent, it often forces the opposing players to look elsewhere. They might also pull their focus away from where it should be, which could create an opening for you or one of your teammates to score a huge goal.
  • It shows intelligence. If you are playing against a lesser opponent, they might not have the intelligence to know when they are being played with or by the puck. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between when the puck is being played with and when it is being played against. By poking or hooking your opponent, even if it is not explicitly permitted by the rules, you are demonstrating that you know the difference and are taking advantage of it.
  • It can be very tricky to pull off. To put it more accurately, it is often very difficult to execute a perfect hook. Even the best players in the world struggle with this tactic, mostly because it takes a lot of practice. So, while there is no explicit rule that bans hooking, it is often considered a dirty play and is often punished thoroughly by the officials at the game.
  • As noted above, sometimes it can be a very effective way to gain an advantage on the ice. Even if it is not permitted by the rules, sometimes it is considered a legitimate tactic to use in order to gain a competitive advantage on the ice.

Holding

This occurs when a player with the puck or ball deliberately prevents their opponent from getting the puck or ball. Generally speaking, holding is also considered a dirty play, but there is usually no explicit rule against it. Holding is usually punished, for the most part, by having to serve a minor penalty, but there is no actual definition of what constitutes a holding violation. Essentially, holding is when a player interferes with the movement of the puck or ball in any way. Here are some of the reasons why holding is often considered a dirty play in hockey:

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