What Is A Gross Misconduct In Hockey? [Updated!]

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Hockey is a contact sport that often involves physical interaction between players. Teams usually consist of three to five skaters and a goalie who protects the goal from which they score. Hockey has been around for more than a century and is one of the most popular sports in North America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It can be quite a violent sport, which is why the NHL has a special “fighting” rule in addition to their standard rules.

What Is A Gross Misconduct In Hockey?

Just like other professional sports leagues, the NHL has defined certain rules and regulations that apply to play. In order to keep the game fair, the rules try to keep the contact as close to the surface as possible. This also means that there is a lower likelihood of seriously injuring an opponent. One of the most vital rules is the one regarding misconduct. Like many professional sports, the NHL defines misconduct as, “Any act that is unsportsmanlike and deliberately tries to hurt or endanger the safety of the other team or individual players.” Basically, it is an egregious breach of sportsmanship. If a player is determined to hurt an opponent in an unfair manner or deliberately infringes on the safety of another team member, they can receive a penalty.

When Is A Penalty Not A Penalty?

One of the most vital rules in hockey is the “high-sticking” prohibition. This rule applies whenever a player hits an opponent above the waist with a hockey stick. It is a violation in its own right, but the penalty for doing so is much higher than what you would typically see in other sports. The NHL determines the penalty for high-sticking based on several factors, but the most vital one is the extent of the injury sustained. The league assesses whether the hit was a major or minor injury. If a player sustains a major injury from a high-sticking incident, they will receive a major penalty and be ejected from the game. If it’s a minor injury, the player will receive a minor penalty. Other factors that can increase the penalty include, but are not limited to: the position of the stick relative to the body, whether or not the player deliberately aimed to hurt their opponent, and if the victim required medical attention because of the hit.

Penalty Versus Minor Misconduct

Another critical distinction to make in hockey is the one between a penalty and a minor misconduct. A penalty is a penalty, but minor misconduct is not necessarily punished in the same manner. This can be quite a complicated rule to understand, so let’s break it down. The definition of a minor misconduct is, “Any infraction other than a penalty that does not hinder a team’s ability to play.” Essentially, these are the kinds of infractions that don’t significantly impact the game. They are often referred to as “pre-mitigation” offenses because they occur prior to the start of the penalty. One of the most vital factors that differentiate minor misconducts from penalties is the severity of the infraction. A player who commits a minor misconduct and is later assessed a major penalty will find themselves sitting out the rest of the game. On the other hand, a player who commits a minor misconduct does not necessarily have to sit out the rest of the game. They can instead receive a minor penalty. Some examples of minor misconduct in ice hockey include, but are not limited to: arguing with officials, diving or reaching behind the back to swat a shot or pass, stalling or skating excessively when one is below the puck, holding or grabbing the puck too long, and taunting an official (including use of obscene hand gestures).

What Are Some Common Examples Of Gross Misconduct In Hockey?

A good place to start when it comes to learning about gross misconduct in hockey is by looking at some of the most common and egregious examples. One of the most frequently cited cases of gross misconduct in recent memory involves New York Rangers left wing Brad Richards. During a game against the Montreal Canadiens in 2013, Richards delivered an elbow strike to the head of Travis Medvedev, the Habs’ star hockey player. Medvedev, who is Russian, subsequently suffered from multiple concussions and a blood clot on the brain due to the attack. Richards was initially given a five-game suspension for the hit, which caused him to miss the entire 2013-14 season. He was later given an additional five games for the hit that he committed during the 2013 World Championship.

While Richards’ hit was undoubtedly violent and intentional, it was also a hit that occurred beyond the arc, or the “crease” as it is commonly referred to in hockey. Due to the lack of visibility in this area, many questions surround whether or not Richards knew exactly where he was going when he hit the Russian player. This makes it more difficult to assess exactly what type of foul play was committed. It should be noted that some believe that Richards’ initial suspension was unreasonable and that he should not have been punished at all for the hit. However, the incident did not occur in a vacuum, and the league had a good reason for their decision. As it turned out, the entire region, or line, of the Rangers’ ice surface – from the blueline straight up along the boards – was in question. Many players were complaining about the amount of elbow and shoulder collisions that were taking place in this part of the rink. This was leading the NHL to take a more serious look at the matter.

How Does A Referee Determine Whether Or Not A Penalty Should Take Place?

When a player commits a foul, whether it is a penalty or not, the onus is on the referee to make the appropriate call. The standard procedure when a foul occurs involves the referee going over to the play, getting into position, and raising both of their arms in the air. Once both arms are in the air, the whistle is usually blown and play resumes. It is not uncommon for some delay to occur while the referee assesses the foul and decides what type of punishment they will mete out.

The way in which a referee determines whether or not to call a penalty is influenced by several factors. Some of the most vital ones include: whether or not the foul was intentional, the strength of the foul, the current game state, and the proximity to the end of the period. In many ways, the job of a referee is similar to that of a umpire in other sports. The main difference is that the hockey umpire has to pay much closer attention to the details of the play, as well as the situation around them.

What Is The Differential Between A Hockey Penalty & A Flagrant Flagging?

While a penalty in ice hockey is similar to what you might see in other sports, a flagrant foul is not exactly the same. A flagrant foul is an incident of serious foul play, usually committed by a player who has already received a penalty. In order to be classified as a flagrant foul, the following conditions must be met:

  • The foul itself must be egregious, or severe, or both
  • The foul must occur beyond the arc, or crease
  • The foul must be committed against an opponent on the opposite team
  • The opposing team must have already been given a penalty for the previous five minutes
  • The foul must be intentional or reckless
  • There must be no conclusive evidence of fisticuffs or dangerous play
  • No “technical” fouls, such as illegal contact with the puck, should be considered

Some fans and media members use the terms “hockey penalty” and “Flagrant Flagging” interchangeably, but they are very different things. A flagrant foul is often but not always associated with a penalty. This is because certain instances of flagrant foul play can occur while a player is in possession of the puck or the ball. Another important point to make is that a flagrant foul can occur in a variety of sports, including, but not limited to, football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. It is often difficult to determine the exact line of demarcation between a flagrant foul and a hockey penalty, especially since NHL referees are sometimes required to call penalties in other sports as well.

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