Hockey Abuse of Official Penalty

ice hockey abuse of official

In ice hockey, an abuse of official penalty occurs whenever a player, coach, or other game participant interferes with, verbally accosts, or physically contacts an official or referee in an aggressive manner. Abuse of official penalties are very serious and often result in major penalties or disqualifications at certain levels of hockey.


Definition

In hockey, abuse of an official occurs whenever a participant in a match interferes with or abuses a referee overseeing the game. In the NHL, an abuse of official penalty is described as challenging or disputing the rulings of an official before, during, or after a game, displaying unsportsmanlike conduct such as obscene, profane, or abusive language, gestures, and comments of a personal nature intended to degrade an official, or disputing a ruling after being told to stop. Additionally, physical abuse of an official is defined as applying physical force in any manner against an official, attempting to injure, physically demean, or deliberately apply physical force to an official, or attempting to get free of an official during or immediately following an altercation.

The NCAA, NFHS, and USA Hockey all follow similar definitions of abuse of an official and include other examples of behavior that is deemed unacceptable. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to: banging the boards with a stick or other instrument, directing ethnic or racial slurs at an official, throwing any object on the ice surface, entering or remaining in the referee’s crease while the referee is reporting to or consulting with any game officials, shooting the puck away from an official after the whistle has blown, taunting an official, spitting at an official, or verbally threatening or intimidating an official with physical contact or harm.

Result

In ice hockey, abuse of an official is a serious penalty, and all leagues have various punishments for it. In the NHL, players who abuse an official receive a minor penalty of two minutes, a misconduct penalty, or game misconduct penalty of ten minutes, depending upon their offense, while coaches receive a bench minor penalty, meaning that they must select one player from their team to come off the ice for two minutes. 

In the NCAA and NFHS, abuse of officials incurs a minor penalty, a misconduct or game misconduct penalty, or disqualification for obscene language or physical abuse, while coaches again receive a bench minor penalty. 

In USA Hockey, youth hockey teams receive either a minor penalty, a misconduct or game misconduct penalty for abuse of an official or a match penalty for obscene language or physical abuse towards an official. Youth coaches receive a bench minor penalty for abuse of an official or a match penalty for obscene language or physical abuse. 

Penalty Signal

ice hockey abuse of official penalty signal

In hockey, abuse of an official is considered a form of unsportsmanlike conduct. Therefore, the signal used for abuse of an official is the same signal used for other forms of unsportsmanlike conduct, which involves the referee using both hands to form a “T” in front of the chest. This is also the same signal used for a time-out.

Examples

  • After disagreeing with a call, Player 1 verbally confronts and physically shoves the referee who made the call with his stick. Player 1 receives an abuse of official penalty and is given a minor penalty of five minutes plus a game misconduct penalty of ten minutes.
  • While the officials are debating a call, Player 2 enters their crease in order to overhear and begins to dispute their decision. When he does not leave after being warned and continues to dispute the ruling, Player 2 receives an abuse of official penalty and is forced to sit out for five minutes.
  • After witnessing a debatable call, one team’s coach calls over an official and berates him with foul and obscene language. The official calls an abuse of official penalty, giving the coach a bench minor penalty, which forces him to remove a player from the ice for two minutes.

Similar Penalties to Abuse of Official

FAQ

What is an abuse of official penalty in hockey?

An abuse of official penalty in hockey occurs when a player or coach verbally or physically interferes with, accosts, or assaults an official during a match. Various types of actions constitute abuse of an official, including, but not limited to: challenging the rulings of an official; using obscene, profane, or abusive language, gestures, or comments of a personal nature intended to degrade an official; applying physical force against an official; directing ethnic or racial slurs to an official; taunting an official; spitting at an official; and verbally threatening or intimidating an official with physical contact or harm.

What are the consequences of an abuse of official penalty in hockey?

There are various consequences for abuse of an official in hockey. In the NHL, players who abuse an official receive a minor penalty, a misconduct penalty, or a game misconduct penalty, while coaches receive a bench minor penalty. In the NCAA and NFHS, abuse of officials results in a minor penalty, a misconduct or game misconduct penalty, or disqualification for obscene language or physical abuse, while coaches again receive a bench minor penalty. Finally, in USA Hockey, abuse of an official incurs a minor penalty, a misconduct or game misconduct penalty, or a match penalty for obscene language or physical abuse towards an official. Youth coaches receive a bench minor penalty for abuse of an official or a match penalty for obscene language or physical abuse.  

Is using profane language against a referee a penalty in hockey?

Using profane language against a referee is a penalty in most hockey leagues. In the NHL, profane language results in a minor penalty for players and a bench minor for coaches or non-playing persons. In the NCAA, players who use such language towards an official receive a misconduct, game misconduct, or disqualification penalty at the discretion of the referee. In the NFHS, foul language results in a misconduct, game misconduct, or disqualification penalty. Finally, in USA Hockey, profane language towards an official incurs a misconduct penalty for any player on the ice and a bench minor for any player or coach not on the ice.