These Playoffs Rule

Dobber Sports




The subject of supplementary discipline and just what constitutes a penalty in the playoffs are hot topics right now.  Before I get started here, I have to say that I have the utmost respect for the NHL and the great job the officiating crews do consistently applying the rules game in and game out (no really, I HAVE to say that or Gary Bettman will fine me $20).  I truly believe the NHL’s Commissar of Crime, Colin Campbell is in a no win situation and is trying his best to be consistent and fair.


Every suspension and non-suspension is compared to similar incidents that have taken place in the past and are scrutinized endlessly by media and hockey fans alike. Campbell has the unenviable task of trying to make the “right” decision while being fully cognizant that this great sport is a man’s game and violent offences are part of its legend and lore.

With this in mind, let’s have a little fun with the NHL rules and supplemental discipline process.

The original NHL rule book was not quite as lengthy as it is now. Many people don’t know that the first ten rules were written on two thin stone tablets (commonly thought to have led to the creation of the first shin pads), eerily similar to the Ten Commandments; you know, thou shalt not draweth crimson with thy wooden staff, lest ye shall spendeth five minutes on the rack or five lashes. Oh my, how we have evolved.

While the current playoff version is much lighter fare than the regular season rule book and it reads much like a comic book. Pow, splatt, boff, whamm, two minutes for nearly killing your opponent and four if you draw blood. Five minutes for anything requiring a stretcher, surgery or if the Commissioner’s daughter happens to be in attendance.

The National Hockey League has a notorious history of losing certain pages of the rule book the deeper the playoffs go. Situational rules are generally applied in the playoffs. As the periods draw down, a proportionate number of pages magically disappear from the rule book.

Here are some excerpts from the NHL’s version of Coles Notes:

11.1.1  When in doubt, think about blowing the play down early. It can take a long time for a referee to actually blow the whistle because it is usually buried so far down in their pocket during the playoffs that it can be difficult to reach quickly.

11.1.2  If the home team is trailing by two goals or less in the last ten minutes of any period, any infraction by the visiting team shall be penalized, regardless of how the game has been called up to that point