Contrary to popular belief, hockey is not solely a game played by club-wielding barbarians. Since its inception, the world of hockey has perpetually changed in order to add structure and even the playing field for its participants. Of the many regulations that have been established over the years, the most mind boggling ones happen to be in regards to the face-off. The rules regarding the face-off can be complicated and tend to read a lot like like legal manuscripts. If you’re like me, a complete understanding of the game doesn’t come automatically with the love of the game.
Admittedly, the face-off violation has been the hardest for me to grasp over the years. Here is the most basic break down. Upon deciding where the face-off will take place (which is an entirely different story), the players take their positions around the designated spot. They get into position, tensions build, everyone holds their breath waiting for the puck to drop, and… whistle. The center gets waived off and another takes his place. Face-off violations are at the discretion of the facilitating Linesman and can be assessed for a number of reasons but the most common are:
- One or both centers are not positioned for the face-off
- One or both centers refrain from placing their stick on the ice
- Any player has encroached into the face-off circle
- Any player makes physical contact with an opponent or
- Any player is in off-side position, the linesman shall have the offending center(s) replaced immediately prior to dropping the puck (www.nhlofficials.com/rule54.asp)
For example, if a center is late in arriving at the designated spot, each center has 5 seconds to get into position, that center can be waived off or if a center crosses the face-off circle lines prior to the puck being dropped. In the event that a team receives two violations on the same face-off, the bench of that team receive a minor penalty for delay of game.
There are several other instances in which a face-off violation can be assessed however, these given are the more basic. Each violation has a sub-set of rules and any official on the ice can call prior to the puck being dropped. However, in the instance that you find yourself, like me, a little confused whenever a player gets waived off the face-off, now you have a one out of five chance of knowing why!