Clipping in hockey is a penalty that is called when a player purposefully leaves their feet or lowers their body to initiate contact with an opposing player at or below the knees.
Most commonly, a player called for clipping will be given a minor penalty. This means the player will be forced to sit in the penalty box for two minutes. During those two minutes, the defenders team will be a man down with only five players on the ice.
Clipping will be considered a major penalty if the player who was clipped suffers injuries in any form. Major penalties result in a greater five minute infraction, and the offender's team will be a man down while the player serves the penalty.
Clipping was made illegal after the 2002 playoffs following the collision between Darcy Tucker and Michael Peca. Tucker aimed below Peca's knees and the hit resulted in a season ending injury for Peca. Turker's hit has become the textbook example of clipping in today's game.
Hip checks are legal hits in hockey that initiate contact above a player's knees, while clipping is an illegal hit targeting below a player's knees. It is often simple to distinguish between the two forms of contact because most players who conduct acts of clipping are intending to inflict pain upon the opponent. Hip checks may cause a player to lose balance and crash violently to the ice, but the contact itself is not intended to cause injury.
Tripping is when a player purposefully uses their stick or a body part to knock an opposing player off balance. Tripping is always considered a penalty and can lead to serious injuries. Tripping penalties often occur during break-aways when a defensive player is trailing an offensive player who has the puck. The defenseman will purposefully trip the offensive player to eliminate their chance of scoring. Tripping destroys the flow of the game and does not set a good example for how hockey should be played.
In 2014 the NHL changed the "puck-first" rule so now tripping can be called even if the defensive player made contact with the puck first. However, in regards to a potential scoring situation, if a defensive player trips an offensive player but makes contact with the puck first, a penalty shot will not be awarded. The 2014 rule states that a tripping penalty with initial contact made to the puck will only result in a two-minute tripping minor.
Yes, hip checking is allowed in the NHL. To ensure a hip check is not called a clipping penalty, a player must make contact above the knees. Never should a player intend to injure another player while hip checking. Hip checks can be momentum swingers in the NHL. A clean hip check will result in a turnover and a scoring opportunity. Also, hard hip checks will get the crowd on their feet and into the game.