10 Rules All NHL Players Have To Follow (On And Off The Ice)

From goalies being prohibited from playing the puck on the opponent's side of center ice, to players traded after the trade deadline being banned from playing the rest of that NHL season, ice hockey has some of the most bizarre rules of any sport.

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In addition to its vast and peculiar set of written laws, there are also some unwritten guidelines for the sport that all professionals in the NHL stringently follow. Let's take a look at some of the unwritten rules of the NHL that many fans may not be aware of.

10. During Fights, Stop Hitting Your Opponent Once He Goes Down

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Once a player goes down during a fight, the fight is generally considered to have ended. This rule came about in the name of respecting one's opponents, and for a player to continue striking his opponent once he has hit the deck would be viewed in bad taste by both said player's team and opposition.

Another important consideration is that the main reason for getting into a fight is to protect a team-mate; not actually to hurt the opposition's players.


9. Tough Guys Don't Fight Skilled Players

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This rule enforces the belief that players should pick on someone their own size and weight class, implying that it would be cowardly to pick a fight with someone of a lesser physical strength.

Whilst this rule is typically believed to be common sense, and should therefore not even need mentioning, it does have its exceptions. For example, while a heavyweight should typically only pick a fight with another heavyweight, it is somewhat permissible for a heavyweight to fight a player of a lower weight-class who instigates a fight or attempts to injure one of the heavyweight's teammates.

8. Don't Step On A Team's Logo In The Locker Room

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While one of the more bizarre rules of the sport, much anger has been directed by fans and players alike at those who don't comply with this tradition. Cal Clutterbuck of the New York Islanders had a blow out with a member of the media over this very issue in 2016.

There was another incident where Justin Bieber stood on the Chicago Blackhawks' Logo back in 2013, however, this incident received a different reception, with many Blackhawks' players taking to Twitter to jokingly scold Bieber. More people are coming out in opposition of this ridiculous rule, however, with former NHL Player Ray Ferraro saying that teams shouldn't put the logo on the floor if they don't want people standing on it.

7. If You're Going To Start A Fight, Don't Turtle

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Turtling is where a player starts a fight and then proceeds to shield himself whilst lying on the ice so that his opponent can't hurt him in retaliation. This is a move that is seen as being cowardly and dishonorable, and whilst it could be used to coax opponents into incurring a penalty, it would surely tarnish the initiator's image with his teammates and fans.

The manner in which Nazer Kadri turtled after getting into a fight with the Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau still draws ire to this day.

6. Don't Shoot Above Your Goalie's Waistline During Warmups

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With numerous players all taking shots at goal before the game starts, a series of pucks hurtling towards the goalie's head could result in a serious risk to his physical health. Furthermore, this could anger the goalie or compromise the trust that he has in his teammates, which is something that any NHL team cannot afford to have happen to their man between the sticks.

Another important consideration is that the team should make their goalie feel confident before starting the game, and too many rapid shots veering near his head could rattle his composure.


5. Don't Shoot The Puck After The Whistle

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Breaching this rule will agitate the goaltender being shot at, as well as annoy his teammates and the officials. A good example of this is goalie Jonathan Quick, who fired the puck at a group of players in a Kings and Blues game as retaliation for someone taking a shot at him.  It also puts the goalie at risk of physical harm, as he routinely drops his guard once the whistle sounds.

Also important to consider is that this even could result in a penalty, which will just put the team at an unnecessary disadvantage.

4. Don't Touch The Conference Trophy

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One of the NHL's best-known superstitions dictates that touching the Western or Eastern Conference trophy upon emerging as conference winners will severely jinx your team's chances to win the Stanley Cup come the playoffs.

This superstition seems to have been debunked, however. This year, the Las Vegas Golden Knights decided to follow the precedent of Penguins' Sidney Crosby by touching the Conference Trophy. In fact, it has been found that teams who have touched the conference trophy have a statistically superior record in the Stanley Cup than those who have not.


3. If Your Teammate Has Two Goals, Do Whatever It Takes To Get Him That Hat-trick

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This includes moments when you have an optimal scoring opportunity, such as a shot at an empty net. Once a teammate has two goals to his name, you may need to give up that shot or pass the puck to someone in a more favorable position to set up that teammate.

There are exceptions to this rule, for example, if the scores are tied, or the scoreline shows a one-goal difference late in the match. If no such scenario exists, and the result seems just about set in stone, then assisting your teammate to get his hat-trick should be made a priority.

2. Don't Shave During The Playoffs

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This custom was popularised by the New York Islanders in the 1980s. This superstition is driven by the belief that when you are on a winning streak, you may run the risk of losing your side's mojo if you make even the smallest change in your life; including shaving.

This practice is also seen as a way to lighten the locker room mood and provide some comic relief in what is otherwise a tense couple of months for any NHL side involved in the spectacle.

1. Don't Cross Over To Your Opponent's Half Of The Ice During Warm-Ups

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This rule is well understood by most in the NHL, and has hardly ever been violated. On the off chance that it is ignored, you may end up seeing a pre-game brawl.

One such instance occurred in the 1987 Prince of Wales Conference Final, whereby the Montreal Canadiens' Claude Lemieux made the mistake of firing a shot into the Philadelphia Flyers' empty net at the end of the pre-game warm up. What ensued was one of hockey's greatest brawls, with players from both teams jumping at the chance to get stuck in. Some players even swarmed out from the dressing rooms and sprung off the bench as they showed their enthusiasm to get in on the action.

This fight proves that this rule goes beyond players physically crossing the red line; it also includes any actions taken by a player to interfere with their opponents' mindsets. Anyone who violates this rule may suffer some dire consequences.

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