Hockey Jargon

The Power of PIM: Understanding Penalty Infraction Minutes in Hockey

Title: Understanding Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIM) in Hockey StatsHockey is an exhilarating sport known for its fast-paced action and intense physicality. While goals, assists, and saves are widely celebrated, another crucial aspect of the game often goes unnoticed penalty infractions.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIM) in hockey stats, exploring its definition, calculation, different types of penalties, and the consequences associated with them. Get ready to gain a comprehensive understanding of PIM and its significance in the game of hockey.

Definition and Calculation

Penalty Infraction Minutes, commonly referred to as PIM, serve as a numerical representation of a player’s time spent in the penalty box due to committing infractions during a game or throughout a season. PIM acts as an essential statistic used to evaluate a player’s discipline, impact on gameplay, and overall effectiveness on the ice.

Calculation-wise, PIM accumulates throughout the course of a game or season, adding up the penalty minutes each time a player is sent to the penalty box. These cumulative totals allow for an accurate understanding of a player’s tendency to play on the edge and their impact on the team’s fortunes.

Types of Penalties

Hockey penalties come in varying degrees, each carrying its own set of consequences. The minor penalty is the least severe and results in a player spending two minutes in the penalty box.

The double minor penalty comprises two consecutive minor penalties, signifying a more serious infraction, leading to four minutes in the box. Moving up the severity ladder, we encounter major penalties, which result in a player being sidelined for five minutes.

Match penalties, on the other hand, are reserved for serious offenses such as deliberate injury attempts, and they lead to an immediate ejection from the game. Additionally, misconduct penalties sideline the player for ten minutes without affecting their team’s numerical strength.

Lastly, penalty shots occur when a player is denied a clear scoring opportunity due to an infraction committed by the opposing team. These penalty shots allow the offended player to take a one-on-one shot against the opposing goalie, providing an exciting opportunity to alter the game’s outcome.

Comparison of Penalties

When evaluating penalties, it is crucial to distinguish between less serious infractions and those that are more severe or dangerous in nature. Some penalties, like tripping or hooking, may be accidental or due to a momentary lapse in judgment.

On the other hand, penalties such as high-sticking, slashing, or fighting are often categorized as deliberate and more severe. Furthermore, unsportsmanlike behavior penalties encompass actions such as verbal abuse, taunting, or unnecessarily rough play, which not only impact the game negatively but also tarnish the spirit of fair competition.

By comparing penalties and assessing their severity, fans, coaches, and analysts gain valuable insights into a player’s commitment to playing within the rules and the overall integrity of the game.


Penalized Infractions

Apart from penalized infractions, hockey also has a set of non-penalized infractions that occur during gameplay. These include icing, offsides, and hand passes.

Icing refers to a rule breach when a team sends the puck from their side of the centerline to the opposing team’s side without it being touched by any player along the way. Offsides occurs when an attacking player enters the offensive zone before the puck, resulting in a play stoppage.

Hand passes, where a player uses their hand to pass the puck to a teammate, are also prohibited.

Penalized Infractions

In contrast to non-penalized infractions, penalized infractions involve prohibited actions that result in penalties and time spent in the penalty box. Tripping occurs when a player impedes an opponent’s progress by using their stick or body to force them to fall.

High-sticking refers to a player striking an opponent with their stick above the shoulders, often resulting in injury. Slashing involves using the stick to strike another player, whereas fighting, though discouraged, occasionally erupts when physical altercations break out between opposing players.

Each of these penalized infractions carries consequences for both the individual player and the team. Consequences of

Penalized Infractions

When a player is penalized, they must serve their time in the penalty box, leaving their team shorthanded for the duration of the penalty.

This temporary reduction in team strength can significantly impact gameplay, as the opposing team gains a numerical advantage, increasing their chances of scoring. Moreover, while a player is serving their penalty, their team must find a suitable replacement to fill the void left by their absence.

This substitution requires teams to adjust their tactics, potentially disrupting the rhythm of the game and affecting the team’s overall strategy. Understanding the consequences associated with penalized infractions emphasizes the importance of discipline and reinforces the idea that maintaining composure in high-pressure situations is crucial for success in hockey.


By exploring Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIM) in hockey stats, we have shed light on the significance of penalties in the game of hockey. From understanding the types of penalties and their consequences to examining the differences between penalized and non-penalized infractions, we have gained valuable insights into the integral role that PIM plays in evaluating a player’s performance.

So, the next time you watch a hockey game, keep a keen eye on the penalties and appreciate their role in shaping the flow and outcome of the game.

Decrease in Penalties Over Time

In the National Hockey League (NHL), Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIMs) have seen a noticeable decrease over the past few decades. This decrease can be attributed to several factors, including changes in the style of play and the evolving acceptability of certain behaviors on the ice.

Back in the day, NHL players often engaged in more physical and aggressive play, resulting in a higher number of penalties. Fighting was more prevalent and widely accepted as a means to settle disputes or provide an emotional spark for a team.

However, as the game has developed and safety concerns have heightened, fighting has seen a decline in acceptability. The league has implemented stricter rules and punishments to discourage fighting and excessive physicality, leading to a decline in PIMs.

Range of PIMs in a Game

Penalty minutes in a single game can vary widely, ranging from zero PIMs to multiple penalties totaling over four minutes. A game with zero PIMs is quite rare, as infractions such as interference, tripping, or hooking can occur during the course of gameplay.

On average, players tend to accumulate around 2-4 minutes of penalties per game, indicating a relatively disciplined style of play. However, there are instances where a player’s emotions get the best of them, resulting in more significant penalties.

Engaging in a fight on the ice can result in a major penalty, which equates to five minutes in the penalty box for each participant. These fights often stem from intense rivalries or an attempt to provide a spark for a team, but they also contribute to an increase in PIMs for individual players.

Top PIMs in the 2018-2019 Season

The 2018-2019 NHL season saw a handful of players stand out in terms of accumulating Penalty Infraction Minutes. One prominent name on the leaderboard was Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks, who amassed a staggering 153 PIMs over the course of the season.

Known for his physical playstyle, Kane’s aggressive nature occasionally landed him in the penalty box. Another notable player was Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals, who accrued 128 PIMs during the season.

Wilson’s physicality often straddles the line of what is considered legal, resulting in penalties for himself and frustration for opponents. Antoine Roussel of the Vancouver Canucks, Ian Cole of the Colorado Avalanche, and Brendan Lemieux of the New York Rangers were also among the top players in terms of PIMs in the 2018-2019 season.

Each player brings a physical presence to their respective teams, but their penalty minutes indicate the need for better discipline on the ice. Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Simmonds of the Nashville Predators, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, Kyle Clifford of the Los Angeles Kings, and Sam Bennett of the Calgary Flames rounded out the top ten in PIMs for that season.

These players often find themselves in the middle of physical battles, making their presence known through their willingness to engage in confrontations.

Top All-Time Season Leaders for PIM

When examining the top all-time season leaders for PIMs, a few names stand out. One notable player is Tiger Williams, who amassed an incredible 396 PIMs during the 1978-1979 NHL season.

Known for his tough and physical play, Williams had a penchant for finding himself in the penalty box while providing an intimidating presence on the ice. Another notable player is Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams, who accumulated 287 PIMs during the 1982-1983 season.

His aggressive style of play and willingness to stand up for teammates resulted in a high number of penalty minutes throughout his career. The all-time season leaders for PIMs also include other notable names such as Dale Hunter, Marty McSorley, and Bob Probert.

These players were renowned for their physicality, toughness, and willingness to do whatever it took to protect their teammates. While the game has evolved and become less tolerant of excessive aggression, these players left a lasting impact on the sport and the importance of enforcing consequences for unsportsmanlike behavior.


As the game of hockey continues to evolve, Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIMs) have seen a significant decrease over time. The changing style of play, along with a more stringent approach to enforcing the rules, has contributed to this decline.

Nevertheless, instances of high PIMs still arise in a game, with penalties ranging from minor infractions to fighting resulting in major penalties. The 2018-2019 NHL season showcased some players who accumulated substantial PIMs, highlighting the need for better discipline on the ice.

Furthermore, when examining the top all-time season leaders for PIMs, players like Tiger Williams, Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams, and Dale Hunter stand out as notable individuals who left an indelible mark on the sport through their physicality and willingness to protect their teammates. As the game progresses, understanding the significance of PIMs will continue to play a crucial role in evaluating a player’s overall performance and their impact on the game of hockey.

In conclusion, understanding Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIM) in hockey stats is crucial for evaluating a player’s discipline and impact on the game. Over the years, there has been a decrease in penalties due to changes in the style of play and the decreasing acceptability of certain behaviors like fighting.

Despite this, PIMs can vary widely in a game, ranging from zero to over four minutes, with fighting resulting in major penalties. The 2018-2019 season showcased players with high PIMs, highlighting the need for better discipline.

Examining all-time season leaders for PIMs reveals the impact of players who prioritized physicality and protecting teammates. Ultimately, PIMs remain an essential metric in evaluating a player’s performance and understanding the dynamics of the game of hockey.

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