By Mark Lichtenfeld. Originally published at


Lots of officials have been grumbling about last month’s NHL player-linesman faceoff incident.

OK, for those readers who are unaware of what transpired, just check out YouTube for a clip of the outrage. Obviously, the NHL handled the situation, but a review of the play can assist the amateur hockey community, and centers in particular, with proper faceoff mechanics.

As the replay shows, the linesman was conducting a faceoff at a neutral zone dot. You can see the official ordering the players into position and it appears that after both centers had their sticks on the ice, the Anaheim center pulled up just as the linesman was dropping the puck. This caused the poor Duck to completely lose the draw, which naturally resulted in a beer league reaction – that being a slash to the back of the linesman’s leg.

Now ask any veteran Level 3 and he or she will concur that faceoff problems occur much more often than they should. And these problems are almost exclusively the result of player ignorance – that being, ignorance of the rules and subsequent refusal to abide by the official’s verbal instructions.

Look, OS is very busy today, so this column is going to be quick and concise.

Rule 613 | Face-Off Procedures

(a) Play shall start when one of the officials drops the puck between the sticks of two opposing players. 

For face-offs occurring at a designated face-off spot, the players facing-off will stand squarely facing their opponents’ end of the rink and clear of the ice markings. The stick blades of both players shall be in contact with the nearest white area of the face-off spot and clear of the center red area.

For face-offs occurring at the center ice face-off spot or in locations other than the designated face-off spots, the players facing-off shall squarely face their opponent’s end of the ice and stand approximately one stick length apart.

The attacking player shall be the first to place his stick on the ice, except for a center ice face-off where the visiting team player shall be first to place his stick on the ice.

OK. Fairly simple. The attacking player is almost always the one who must place his stick onto the ice first.

And if he doesn’t, Mr. OS? Then what?

Then we proceed to my favorite part of the USA Hockey face-off rule:

Situation 12

A player taking a face-off who is on-side, is deliberately delaying getting set for the face-off. Should the Official conducting the face-off, after a minimum of five seconds have elapsed, drop the puck with only one player ready?

Yes. Rule Reference 613(c).

However, the Official must manage the face-off with proper mechanics and communication in order to minimize this occurrence. The onus is on the player to be ready for the face-off in a timely manner and follow the instructions of the Official.

Got that, oh you lumberjacks and BLTs (Beer League Trainees)? The center has the duty to be prepared for the drop. So when the linesman tells you to place your stick on the ice, you best comply in a prompt, timely manner.

And for those travel league players, your coach should have already instructed you on these mechanics.

Face-off procedures. With about 30 face-offs in an average game (or less in a late-night men’s game with the 11:00 icing rule in effect), a center really has the opportunity to shine – to show the officials that he’s been well-coached. And like OS has mentioned in previous columns, a player can often get on the official’s good side by exhibiting a mastery of faceoff mechanics.

So for next month’s spring-league JV centers looking to display mental prowess over limited skating skills, here’s the opportunity to really show your stuff.

And that’s the kind of edge you expect from OS.


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.