What Is Roughing In Hockey? Learn the Rules and Penalties

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Hockey is known for its fast pace, intense physicality, and hard hits. While some contact between players is expected in this sport, rough play that goes beyond the rules can result in penalties. This is where “roughing” comes into play.

Roughing is a penalty called by officials when a player engages in excessive or aggressive behavior towards another player on the ice. This often includes actions such as hitting, shoving, or punching an opponent with force, or attacking them while they are off balance or defenseless.

“Roughing is not only against the rules but it puts other players at risk of injury,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

The specific rules and penalties for roughing may vary depending on the league or level of hockey being played. For example, in the National Hockey League (NHL), any player who engages in rough play will receive a two-minute minor penalty. If a fight breaks out, both players involved will receive a five-minute major penalty and be sent to the penalty box for the duration of their penalty,

Whether you’re a seasoned hockey fan or just getting into the game, learning about roughing is crucial for understanding the sport and keeping players safe. So, read on to discover more about the rules and penalties for roughing in hockey!

Definition of Roughing in Hockey

Roughing: A Physical Infraction

In hockey, roughing refers to a physical infraction that occurs when a player uses unnecessary force or violence against an opponent. It is defined as any act of punching, cross-checking, or elbowing that exceeds the acceptable level of physical contact during play.

A roughing penalty results in the player being sent to the penalty box for two minutes. This means that their team must play short-handed for the duration of the penalty, creating an opportunity for the opposing team to score and potentially gain a momentum swing in the game.

In addition, players who accumulate too many roughing penalties throughout the season may face fines, suspensions, or other disciplinary action from the league.

Physical Contact That Crosses the Line

Hockey is a physical sport, but there are limits to what is considered legal physical contact. When a player crosses these boundaries, they risk being penalized for roughing.

This can include actions such as hitting an opponent from behind or while they are vulnerable, targeting sensitive areas of the body like the face or head, or continuing to make contact after the whistle has been blown to stop play.

“In terms of roughing, you just have to be smart. There’s obviously going to be pushing and shoving out there. You’ve got to pick your battles.” -Sidney Crosby

Players must remember that roughing ultimately puts their team at a disadvantage and could result in injury to themselves or others on the ice. It is important to balance physicality with respect for the rules and safety of all involved.

When Is Roughing Called in Hockey?

Excessive Physical Contact

Roughing is a penalty called when excessive physical contact occurs between two players that goes beyond the usual body checks allowed in hockey. According to NHL rule 59, roughing is defined as “any type of physical altercation that is not specifically penalized elsewhere in the rulebook.”

The objective of the physical play in hockey is to gain control of the puck and outplay your opponents on the ice without injuring them or breaking any rules set forth by the National Hockey League. In instances where a player initiates physical contact with another player for no reason other than to intimidate or hurt them, the referees may determine that roughing has occurred.

“Roughing involves a lot more than the occasional light shove,” says former NHL referee Kerry Fraser. “It can involve anything from jostling another player after a whistle has blown all the way up to dropping gloves and engaging in a full-on fight” -Kerry Fraser

Intent to Injure

One instance where roughing is typically called is when there is an intent to injure another player. This can occur in situations where one player uses their stick, elbow, or fists to intentionally hit the opponent’s head or face, which could lead to serious injury.

In cases where a player continues to engage in this kind of behavior even after being warned by the referees or receiving penalties for it, they may receive additional consequences such as suspension or fines. The purpose of these harsher punishments is to discourage players from using violence as a means to gain a competitive advantage, and to ensure the safety of all players on the ice.

“Players who blatantly disregard the safety of others have no place in our game,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “We take incidents of head contact and player safety extremely seriously, and will continue to implement policies that protect our players from harm.” -Gary Bettman

Retaliation and Aggressiveness

Roughing may also be called when a player engages in aggressive or retaliatory behavior towards another player, which can escalate into dangerous situations on the ice. For example, if one player takes a cheap shot at another player by checking them when they are unable to defend themselves, it is likely that roughing will be called.

Additionally, if a player responds to a body check with excessive force, such as punching or slashing their opponent with their stick, roughing may be called as well. These types of actions not only endanger both players involved but also go against the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship that is an essential aspect of hockey.

“Part of being a great hockey player is knowing how to stand up for yourself without resorting to violence,” said former NHL defenseman Bobby Orr. “Players who choose to engage in reckless or aggressive behavior not only put themselves at risk but also bring down the entire team dynamic.” -Bobby Orr

Roughing is called in hockey when there is excessive physical contact that goes beyond what is allowed in the game. This penalty is intended to discourage violent behaviors that could lead to injury or disruption of the game, and to ensure the safety of all players on the ice. By recognizing the different scenarios where roughing might occur, we can gain a better understanding of how to play the sport safely and respectfully.

Penalties for Roughing in Hockey

Roughing is one of the most common penalties called by officials during a hockey game. It occurs when a player uses physical force or violence against an opponent who does not have the puck. In this article, we will discuss the different types of penalties that may result from roughing.

Minor Penalties

A minor penalty results in a two-minute power play for the opposing team. Here are some examples of what can lead to a minor roughing penalty:

  • A player pushes, trips, or hits an opponent without contacting them with their stick.
  • A player throws a punch at another player but misses and doesn’t make contact.
  • A player jumps on top of an opponent during a scrum.

If a player receives three or more minor penalties in a single game, they will receive an automatic game misconduct.

Major Penalties

A major penalty results in a five-minute power play for the opposing team and possible ejection from the game. Examples of actions that may lead to a major roughing penalty include:

  • A player slashes or cross-checks an opponent with significant force.
  • A player punches or injures an opponent.
  • A player continues to hit an opponent after they have fallen to the ice.

If a player receives a major penalty and causes a serious injury to their opponent, additional disciplinary action may be taken by the league.

Game Misconduct Penalties

A game misconduct penalty means that the offending player is ejected from the game and cannot return to the ice. This usually occurs alongside other penalties, such as a major or match penalty. Here are some situations where a player may receive a game misconduct for roughing:

  • A player intentionally attempts to injure an opponent with excessive violence.
  • A player retaliates against an opponent by attacking them after being hit themselves.
  • A player uses racial or discriminatory slurs during the altercation.

Suspensions and Fines

Players who repeatedly engage in rough play or violate league safety regulations may face further disciplinary action, such as suspensions and fines. The NHL Player Safety Department closely monitors games and hands out suspensions based on video evidence and other factors.

“Our message has been clear: targeting the head of an opponent is unacceptable,” said Brendan Shanahan, Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations for the NHL.

In some cases, players may also be subject to financial penalties for dangerous conduct on the ice. These fines can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the infraction.

Roughing is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for both the individual player and the team. While physicality is certainly a part of hockey, it’s important to remember that player safety should always be the top priority.

How to Avoid Roughing Penalties in Hockey

Discipline and Self-Control

Hockey is a fast-paced sport that can be physically demanding, but players must maintain discipline on the ice at all times. One of the most important factors in avoiding roughing penalties is self-control. Players who lose their temper or act impulsively during play are more likely to cross the line between legal and illegal actions.

To avoid roughing penalties, players should focus on staying calm and composed, even in the heat of competition. This means controlling emotions like anger or frustration, which can lead to aggressive behavior. By maintaining a level head and focusing on playing within the rules, players can reduce their risk of receiving a penalty for roughing.

Proper Body Positioning and Technique

In addition to mental discipline, proper body positioning and technique can also help players avoid roughing penalties. To avoid roughing calls, players should strive to maintain good posture and stay balanced on their skates. This helps them stay in control of their movements and make clean hits without going over the line into illegal territory.

Players should also focus on developing proper checking techniques, including using their hips and shoulders to make contact. Proper checking form allows players to make effective hits while minimizing the risk of injury to themselves and their opponents. By mastering correct form, players can avoid unnecessary roughness and stay in the game.

Respect for Opponents and Officials

Finally, respect for opponents and officials plays a critical role in avoiding roughing penalties. Players who show disrespect towards others on the ice are more likely to engage in unsportsmanlike conduct and receive penalties as a result.

To avoid roughing calls, players should always treat opponents with respect, both on and off the ice. This means avoiding trash talk or taunting that could incite retaliation, as well as keeping a level head during physical play.

Additionally, players should maintain positive relationships with officials, who have the power to dish out penalties for rough play. By showing respect towards referees and linesmen, players can reduce their risk of receiving penalties and build a reputation as fair competitors on the ice.

“Good discipline is the art of making someone else do something you want them to do because they want to do it.” -Coach John Wooden

Avoiding roughing penalties in hockey requires a combination of mental discipline, technical skill, and respect for others on the ice. By focusing on these areas, players can minimize their risk of unnecessary penalties and stay competitive without crossing the line into illegal play.

Famous Roughing Incidents in Hockey History

The Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi Incident

In March 2004, the Vancouver Canucks faced off against the Colorado Avalanche. The game was marked with tension as it was a rematch following a brutal hit by former Avalanche player Steve Moore on Canucks captain Markus Naslund earlier that season. In retaliation, Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi viciously attacked Moore from behind, driving his head into the ice.

Moore suffered serious injuries to his neck and spine, ending his career prematurely. Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the NHL and faced legal charges for assault causing bodily harm. He eventually pleaded guilty and received probation and community service.

“It’s disappointing,” said then-Canucks GM Brian Burke of Bertuzzi’s actions. “I don’t think this is what our league wants to be about.”

The Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear Incident

In February 2000, the Boston Bruins faced off against the Vancouver Canucks. During the game, Canucks forward Donald Brashear checked Martin Gélinas of the Bruins along the boards. This led to Bruins enforcer Marty McSorley taking matters into his own hands and striking Brashear in the head with his stick.

Brashear fell to the ice unconscious, suffering a severe concussion and a blood clot. McSorley was charged with assault with a weapon and found guilty, receiving an 18-month conditional discharge. He also faced a one-year suspension from the NHL, effectively ending his career.

“The other players have shown frustration, too,” said then-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “But you can’t engage in conduct which is designed solely to injure someone else.”

The Battle of Alberta Brawls

The rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames has led to some infamous roughing incidents. In particular, “The Battle of Alberta” brawl during a game in 1984 featured multiple fights on the ice and fans throwing objects onto the playing surface.

One incident involved Flames player Jim Peplinski punching Oilers star Wayne Gretzky from behind during a scrum, leading to Gretzky’s teammates retaliating against Peplinski. While no serious injuries occurred, the brawl resulted in several suspensions and both teams being fined by the NHL.

“It was an ugly night,” said then-Oilers coach Glen Sather. “There were certainly things that went on that shouldn’t have gone on.”

These famous roughing incidents in hockey history showcase some of the darker aspects of the sport. While physicality is a key component of the game, players and fans alike must remember to always prioritize player safety and respect for their opponents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered roughing in hockey?

Roughing in hockey refers to any physical contact or aggression towards an opponent that goes beyond normal play. This can include hitting, punching, or shoving an opponent, as well as any other type of physical altercation. Roughing can also be called if a player uses their stick in an aggressive or dangerous manner.

What are the consequences of committing a roughing penalty?

When a player commits a roughing penalty, they are typically sent to the penalty box for two minutes. This means their team will be short-handed for that time and must play with one less player on the ice. Additionally, if the roughing is particularly severe, the player may receive a more severe penalty or even be ejected from the game.

How is roughing different from other penalties in hockey?

Roughing is different from other penalties in hockey because it focuses on physical aggression towards an opponent rather than a specific rule violation. While other penalties, such as tripping or hooking, are based on specific actions, roughing is more subjective and is based on whether the physical contact was deemed excessive or unnecessary by the referees.

What are some common situations in which roughing penalties occur?

Roughing penalties can occur in a variety of situations during a hockey game. Some common examples include after-the-whistle altercations, physical play in the corner or along the boards, or retaliation for a previous hit or altercation. Roughing can also occur in front of the net during a scramble for the puck or during a breakaway.

How can players avoid committing roughing penalties?

Players can avoid committing roughing penalties by focusing on playing within the rules and avoiding unnecessary physical aggression towards opponents. This can include avoiding after-the-whistle altercations, staying disciplined during physical play, and avoiding retaliation for previous hits or altercations. Players can also work on improving their body control and awareness to avoid accidental roughing penalties.

What role do referees play in enforcing roughing penalties?

Referees play a crucial role in enforcing roughing penalties by making judgment calls on whether physical aggression towards an opponent goes beyond normal play. They have the authority to call a roughing penalty if they deem it necessary and can also escalate the penalty if the roughing is particularly severe. Referees also work to maintain order on the ice and prevent altercations from escalating into more serious incidents.

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