Hockey Jargon

Unraveling the Hand Pass Rule: Controversy Consequences and Evolution

Title: The Hand Pass Rule in Hockey: Understanding Its Intricacies and Addressing ControversiesHockey, with its fast-paced nature and exhilarating gameplay, captivates fans around the globe. But when it comes to the hand pass rule, confusion and controversy can often overshadow the sport’s excitement.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the hand pass rule in hockey, explore its different facets, and address the recent controversies surrounding it. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of this rule and its impact on the game.

Rules on Hand Passes in NHL

In the National Hockey League (NHL), hand passes are subject to specific regulations. The rule states that players cannot make intentional hand passes to their teammates, except in the defensive zone.

This means that, within their own territory, players are allowed to use their hands to pass the puck. However, any hand passes made in the neutral zone or offensive zone are considered illegal.

Types of Legal and Illegal Hand Passes

Understanding the distinction between legal and illegal hand passes is crucial to comprehending the rule fully. Legal hand passes occur when a player in the defensive zone uses their hand to pass the puck to a teammate.

Additionally, a player can redirect the puck with their hand, as long as they do not gain significant control over it. On the other hand, an illegal hand pass occurs when a player deliberately uses their hand to pass the puck to a teammate in the neutral zone or offensive zone.

Restrictions on Holding the Puck After Catching It

To prevent players from manipulating the game by holding onto the puck after catching it, further restrictions come into play. Players are prohibited from catching the puck and holding it for an extended period, known as “holding the puck.” They must instead immediately release or pass the puck.

Failure to comply with this rule results in a penalty for the offending player and a stoppage in play.

Reviewing Goals Scored as a Result of a Hand Pass

To maintain fairness and integrity in the game, certain goals scored as a result of a hand pass can be subject to review. If an incident occurs in the offensive zone or the neutral zone, the reviewing officials can assess whether the goal was a direct result of an illegal hand pass.

If deemed so, the goal will be disallowed, ensuring adherence to the rules.

Illegal Hand Pass Incident in Playoff Game

In a highly publicized incident during the San Jose-St. Louis playoff series, an illegal hand pass occurred, sparking controversy among fans and players alike. The incident involved an offensive hand pass that led to a goal, granting the San Jose Sharks a significant advantage.

The instant replays clearly displayed the infraction, leading to a heated debate over the officials’ call and potential consequences.

Correct Call and Potential Consequences

Following the rulebook, the officials correctly called the hand pass and disallowed the goal. While this call was undeniably correct, it carried significant consequences for the St. Louis Blues.

The game’s outcome could have potentially shifted if the officials had not intervened, casting a shadow over the fairness of the result. This incident serves as a reminder that adherence to the rules is paramount, even if the consequences are substantial.

Change in Reviewable Goal Rules

The controversy surrounding the playoff incident prompted discussions about potentially changing the reviewable goal rules. The NHL’s Board of Governors, in response to fan and player concerns, conducted a thorough review during the offseason.

As a result, the league decided to expand video review capabilities, allowing officials to revise certain goals that were previously not subject to review. This adjustment aims to ensure that similar incidents are accurately addressed in the future, preserving the game’s integrity.


In hockey, the hand pass rule plays a vital role in maintaining fairness and preserving the integrity of the game. Understanding the specific regulations, distinguishing between legal and illegal hand passes, and addressing controversies such as the San Jose-St. Louis playoff incident are crucial aspects of comprehending this rule.

By delving into these intricacies, we gain insights into the rule’s evolution and its impact on the game. Whether the hand pass rule generates heated discussions or settles tense moments, it remains an integral part of hockey, enriching the sport we all love.

In conclusion, the hand pass rule in hockey is a crucial aspect of the game, ensuring fairness and upholding the sport’s integrity. This article explored the various components of the rule, including NHL regulations, types of legal and illegal hand passes, restrictions on holding the puck, and the review process for goals resulting from hand passes.

It also discussed the controversy surrounding an illegal hand pass incident in a playoff game and the subsequent changes in reviewable goal rules. Understanding the intricacies of the hand pass rule is essential for players, officials, and fans alike, as it shapes the course of the game.

Respecting and enforcing this rule is essential to maintain the essence of hockey and its commitment to fair play.

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