I have been a level 4 (highest level in USA hockey) ice hockey official and Ohio high school ice hockey certified. I have done Juniors and have been associated with an AHL hockey team. AMA about hockey, officiating or anything else!


EDIT: It's been 24 hours since I started this AMA, but I'm still getting questions! You guys are awesome. Keep leaving your questions or comments and I'll keep answering them! PSA: Stanley Cup starts at 8PM EST!

Comments: 380 • Responses: 97  • Date: 

knumbknuts88 karma


I'm kidding had to

Rhyinn57 karma

HAHAH I WAS WAITING FOR THIS!!! In response, I'll give my best heckle that I ever received.

I was 18 and doing a game once and a parent yelled an incorrect rule. So I turned around and corrected him by stating the correct rule. (You should never do that but I was pissed). He then said..."Ah go back home and clean your room, kid!" hahahah I laughed so hard I had trouble skating the rest of the game.

makruslamni15 karma

Have you ever been knee'd in the head by James Neal or Matt Cooke?

Rhyinn7 karma

I've been jumped on while trying to separate players if that counts

Cornelius_Fudgesicle14 karma

What is your perspective on make-up calls? If refs figure out they've really made a mistake, will they maybe give the other team the benefit of the doubt on a subsequent play?

Rhyinn23 karma

Depends on the age level. 14-18 kids, never. With 8-12, maybe. If the game is 7-0 I'll call a couple ticky-tack ones on the team that's winning by a lot. It helps to slow the game down and not let emotions get out of hand. Usually the losing team will start doing really dumb stuff and possibly go after opposing players.

Rhyinn20 karma

To add to this, in general you should never make a make-up call if you're a new official. It takes a lot of experience to know when the right time is and what situation to make the call.

kbsputnik4 karma

That's interesting. I'm pretty sure in Ron MacLean's biography he talked about needing to keep the number of calls against each team close. This is an attitude that's always rankled me. It seems like a simple concept that if one team plays a dirtier game, they should be penalized more, so thank you for your answer.

Rhyinn5 karma

I've never watched it, and the game has changed since then. It is a very simple concept, but a lot of people seem to think that a referee "has it out" for a specific team if they call a lot on them. The NHL for the most part is slightly different than Juniors/high school/youth and he may be right by swaying 1 penalty per game or so.

kbsputnik2 karma

No, I like your way better! I ref soccer and there's nothing I hate more than when a coach complains you're calling more fouls against them. Instead of encouraging his team to play by the rules, it becomes the ref's fault for enforcing them. So I agree with your approach.

Rhyinn8 karma

That is the number one issue you'll come across being a ref. Coaches thinking that you have a vendetta against them when in reality it's just their team playing like idiots!

naxter4812 karma

What did you think of the officiating during the IIHF World Championship between Russia and Finland?

Rhyinn15 karma

Great question. I thought it was fine. The hard part about officiating is that no matter what call you make, you're always going to have another side that disagrees. In this case, it's on the biggest stage and an entire country is against you!

Nevlach10 karma

Which NHL teams are you favorites?

Rhyinn24 karma

Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.

poo_finger38 karma

That's like saying you like Coke and Pepsi. Go Wings! and coke

Xeteh7 karma

That is one thing I have to say which makes me most ashamed about the Avalanche. I can't believe they not only serve but play in a place called the Pepsi Center. shudder

Rhyinn4 karma


Rhyinn6 karma

hahahahah I know but I can't choose between them!!! That's why I always say both teams

marcopolo223 karma

Go Wings, but what?? Where are you from?

Rhyinn5 karma


Stoooooooo10 karma

Why is there a different set of officiating standards in the playoffs?

Rhyinn20 karma

Great question. The answer is that the players want it that way. Call less and make it more about earning your advantages. The players would rather earn the Cup rather than having 1 or 2 ticky-tack penalties that may decide a crucial game. Plus, it makes for a far better game.

Patches678 karma

What is the worst fight you ever had to break up and did you get hurt yourself?

Rhyinn24 karma

I had a 17 year old come off the bench at the end of a stoppage of play and hit an opponent in the helmet with his stick 5 times. I got cut on my face trying to grab his stick on the follow through of one of his swings. Both benches cleared and the police were called. He received a life-time ban from USA hockey and Ohio high school hockey. There was also a fight in the stands between his father (apple doesnt fall far from the tree) and the parents of the other team.

StealAllTheInternets15 karma

I hope the dad got shit kicked. Fuck those people.

Rhyinn17 karma

He filed for a repeal and was denied. The incident was taped and his son had a history of violence. I even wrote a letter to the board to voice my opinion on the matter. Most referees won't go that far, once the game is done and they file their report, they wash their hands of the game. But I thought that I needed to write in.

Throwawayqw1236 karma

Wait, you have to file a report for every game? Or did you mean police report in this particular instance...

Rhyinn15 karma

You have to file a special USA hockey report if you kick anyone (player, coach, parent) out of a game. Because that, in USA hockey, comes with an additional 1 game suspension.

cosalich3 karma

You're actually pretty lucky, in my case (doing a Bantam AAA game) the dad managed to get on the ice somehow. Had to help the linesmen out a bit on that one.

Rhyinn4 karma

There's a fine line between going out on the ice and helping and being a liability. I'm glad your father was on our side!

l3arrend7 karma

What's the most bogus call you've seen recently?

Rhyinn7 karma

There was a flop after a stoppage of play. I can't remember who it was, but it was a Blackhawks player. There aren't many (extremely rare) flops in the NHL as it is a very player-regulated league. It was seen as a horrible penalty by the official and a "you-should-never-do-that-again-play" by the flopper. Even his own teammates had comments about it I believe.

jedavis144411 karma

Was his name perhaps LeBron?

Rhyinn14 karma


E395407 karma

Serious question, happened in my game on Sunday, ref didn't know what to do.

My defenseman shoots the puck from the point and I'm the left winger screening the goalie,

The puck is traveling higher than the crossbar (too high to deflect it with my stick)

I outstretch my arm and hold it in a fixed position, knowing the puck will deflect off of my hand.

I make no motion with my hand, but the puck does indeed deflect off of my glove and goes in the net.

Good goal?

Rhyinn7 karma

Tough one. I would say no goal. Reasoning: You outstretched your arm and the puck hit your hand. If your hand was on your stick, I'd say a good goal. If you intentionally use your hand to deflect a puck into the goal, the goal should not count, even if your hand was not in motion. If the puck hit your arm, it's a good goal.

The main issue here is was your hand in motion. TECHNICALLY speaking, if your hand wasn't moving AT ALL IN ANY WAY, it's a good goal. But I would probably say that I would have disallowed the goal based on you moving your entire arm and your hand was used in deflecting the puck into the goal.

E395403 karma

Thanks for the reply, better than the ref on the ice gave me.

Rhyinn11 karma

That's because I'm a good official. =p

commonone166 karma

What is the selection process for becoming an AHL/NHL referee? Is it a physical/mental type of tryout, recommendations and experience, or something else?

Rhyinn12 karma

You start by traveling 300+ miles for 1 or two games at the age of 18. You go to multiple camps located in your district (3-8 state range). You ref and are guided to become a better referee. The "tryouts" or more or less done in camps, and if you are good enough you are invited to the best camps.

commonone168 karma

Sounds like you have to be super dedicated! Thanks for responding.

Rhyinn14 karma

Just like players, referees have to skip on College or life after high school if they want to make it to the next level. It's a very tough choice! You're very welcome :)

purplehayes4 karma

You don't have to give an exact figure, but what's the pay scale for a level 4 ref?

Rhyinn9 karma

Doesn't matter what level ref you are, it matters what level of game you are reffing. In Ohio for high school, a varsity game is 2 hours and you get 70.

A high level Midget/Junior (16-18 year olds) game is 1.5 hours and you get 50-80 depending on skill level of that division.

Youth games start out at 20 per game which are 1 hour and work your way up to 35 per game per hour. (So from 6-14 year olds)

purplehayes7 karma

Thanks for the reply. I'm guessing 95% of the refs have a day job then.

Rhyinn7 karma

Yup. Or they are in college or even high school. The ones that don't are the ones that are really making a push for the NHL or they are retired.

purplehayes5 karma

Do you know how much an NFL ref makes?

Rhyinn10 karma

The average pay for a referee is between $115,000 to $255,000 each year. This is an average payment of $1,402 to 2,682 per game.

cosalich2 karma

I never did anything higher than Midget AAA, but I know a few WHL refs that definitely have full time jobs. Refereeing is where the fun money comes from.

Rhyinn3 karma


bacala6 karma

Were you ever injured during a game?

Rhyinn12 karma

Oh yes. I have 3 scars. Two from hockey skates and one from a helmet. 2 scars on my hands and one on my arm. I've had to stop the game because my partner got hit in the mouth with a puck and lost 2 teeth once. I was also reffing with an older ref who fell and I had to finish the game by myself.

AutoBond6 karma

Q: What team has the Absolute Worst fans? I don't mean apathetic... I mean if all of their fans were vaporized from the face of the earth, Angels might start to sing and the world might actually be a better place?

Rhyinn17 karma


SrSkippy6 karma

Did your new eyeglasses arrive yet? Some people yelling from the nosebleeds wanted to know.

Rhyinn8 karma

Contacts :)

M3Prince6 karma

Do any of the players give you sloppy seconds on any of their groupies?

Rhyinn14 karma

hahah gross. from my experience, you don't want to touch anything that some of my hockey buddies have touched.

mhoke636 karma

What made you decide to be an official? Was it the decision to give back to the sport you love?

Also, how often do you flub a call, realize it, and then go talk with your crew for a few seconds before reversing it to make it look like you didn't mess up in the first place?

Rhyinn9 karma

It's the best and easiest money at the time. I didn't want to work in fast food or retail, and I got 25+ per game which is about an hour depending on level. It was a way to stay in touch with the sport that I love.

I flub a call once in about 15 games. I realize it instantly. It's a horrible feeling. Depending on WHAT the call is, most of the time there is NO reversing it. Most of the time, reversed calls are the ones that either I missed a goal go in or thought I saw a goal and there was none. Those CAN be reversed and generally are reversed.

trireme325 karma

When you call a penalty that you, in retrospect, shouldn't have, do you ever later on call a penalty on the other team for something that was pretty ticky-tack and you might have let slide otherwise?

Rhyinn4 karma

Depends on the age level. 14-18 kids, never. With 8-12, maybe. If the game is 7-0 I'll call a couple ticky-tack ones on the team that's winning by a lot. It helps to slow the game down and not let emotions get out of hand. Usually the losing team will start doing really dumb stuff and possibly go after opposing players.

fullautophx3 karma

Do you ever do the "check-the-net" move? If you blow the whistle by accident or on a non-call, you claim you thought the net was off the pegs, check it, then face-off at center.

Rhyinn5 karma

LOL! Yes, on multiple occasions. I love the "check-the-net" move. I've blown my whistle to stop play because I lost sight of the puck before and then hurried over to the net and pretended it was off of it's pegs. Very smooth ;)

fullautophx6 karma

I'm a goalie, and I saw a ref do this and he told me about it as he was checking the net.

Rhyinn8 karma

I was a goalie too...the most important player on the ice to develop a good, solid relationship with the referee is the goalie.

soccerrefAMA5 karma

Has anyone ever gotten seriously injured in a game you were officiating?

Rhyinn3 karma

I've had to call an ambulance a couple of times. One time an 11 year old pulled out a loose tooth. Nothing serious, but just a fun thing that I'd thought I'd share. I've had a broken ankle, multiple broken wrists and the worst one is a cut thigh. It was bleeding through the hockey sock and onto the ice. Very bad situation. He was cut under the hockey pants by a skate blade.

trireme325 karma

The thought of getting sliced by a skate blade scares the heck out of me... Especially after seeing the Zednik incident live on TV.

Rhyinn3 karma

You saw it live? Damn. It's a very famous incident. Thankfully there have been a lot of measures taken to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

4a4a5 karma

Who do you look up to in the officiating community? Is it Kerry Fraser (Only ref I've ever known the name of)

Rhyinn6 karma

Great question and a real problem. There is such a superiority complex in the higher ranking guys, that it's really hard to pinpoint one. I would say I look up to more local officials who try their best no matter what age or division they are reffing. The ones who genuinely care about the kids are the best guys and you'll never hear of them.

HgFrLr5 karma

Hey. So I'm 17 and I played hockey from when I was 6-13 I took 4 years off because I just kinda got bored with the sport. Do you think there's any point in starting up again? I'm not THAT big, but by no means am I small. (6"1 165 lbs). I just don't want to waste my money and find that people are going to be skating around me all day.

Rhyinn6 karma

Honestly, not until you're 18. Any league you're going to join after you're 18 will be non-checking and what everyone calls "beer league". It's just a bunch a people who know each other and join a league at their local ice rink. Good news is that they have divisions so you're not going to play against people who have been skating their entire life and are fresh out of college or anything.

HgFrLr5 karma

I'm from Calgary however. And some buddies of mine told me this is how it's going to be as of next year: my current hockey rink only makes 1 team, there are cuts. And the rec hockey had kids from all skill levels. So I'll probably do rec, and I'm just wondering if I'll be wasting my time. However I really wanna get back into playing hockey. It's so fun :)

Rhyinn3 karma

Ah, I'm not familiar with how your rec works then. Why don't you try just going to an open-skate and seeing if you fall in love with skating again? Then just make the jump! Try it out for one session and if you don't like it, find a new rec.

Akwa5 karma

Do you know any officials/umpires from other sports in North America?

Rhyinn3 karma

I know OF AHL/NHL referees and I know about 5 AHL referees personally. Some of the guys I know will be in the NHL within 2 years if they stay on track.

mjpem5 karma

What's the worst verbal abuse you've had to deal with? Did it affect you personally or were you able to let it go?

Rhyinn6 karma

I tossed a coach for being overly abusive. No big deal, it happens. His team was playing like shit and he was trying to get them fired up. It's actually more common than you might think.

However, his team responded poorly. After the game a parent threatened to "meet me in the parking lot" and "show me a thing or two." Luckily for me, he yelled it in front of 15 other people.

I simply had the ice rink call the police a file a report with the police and USA hockey. They received a 1 year ban from all hockey rinks in Ohio.

You have to develop REALLYYYYYYYY thick skin. I've been yelled at by friends, fellow referees who are also coaches...you name it. You have to remember that you are a referee and emotions get the better of people all the time.

Grambo925 karma

Kings or Rangers & why

Rhyinn5 karma

Rangers, because they haven't won it recently. I dislike all sports teams that are based in Cali because they seem to always win! I know that's not true, but that's just what I feel like haha Being from Ohio, we don't have much to root for, so we generally root for the teams that haven't won in a while.

DoctorTacoMD5 karma

How do you feel about the proposed yellow line being painted on the ice 24" off of the glass to warn players they're close to the wall, as a safety precaution?

Rhyinn6 karma

Hate it. There are already enough lines. The game is so fast that you really aren't looking for "caution lines" either

Leftwithnocookies4 karma

Hello fellow official! A little backstory before I ask my question, I work primarily in Northern California and am a level 2, could be higher but I'm in school. I've played since I was young and really love the game.

My local organization ( I'll leave the name out but you can look it up) seems to be lacking any motivation to make NorCal a better place for both playing and officiating. Not many people move on to level 4 and the overall mood towards the organization isn't very bright. Also there was a recent incident with my local adult league team where another team was being very dirty and causing a lot of trouble to the league. Both the league and my organiztion did very little which annoyed me.

So my question is, did you ever have problems with your local organization or is it just me.

Rhyinn2 karma

Hello fellow zebra! (It's okay when we call each other that) Short answer...YES!!!!!

Most hockey organizations lack even the slightest motivation to produce better officials. If you don't ACTIVELY seek it yourself, you're going to get nowhere. It's a sad, sad fact.

Also to relate to your issue, I was at a hearing for a coach who was out of control. Getting kicked out of 50% of his games. But because he donated a LOT of money to the local team, they wouldn't suspend him or anything. According to the rules, he should have had a year-long suspension. But he kept on coaching because of the ruling board and his money and his friends. So sad.

mealsonwheels064 karma

Who would win in a fight.. A Chara sized Nathan Gerbes, or a Gerbes sized Zdeno Chara

Rhyinn5 karma

LOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!! A Chara sized Nathan Gerbes. Chara is a freaking MONSTER!!!

redhousebythebog4 karma

What do consider a fairly officiated game? If there is there such a thing. Both teams with equal power play opportunities? The cleaner playing team with more power plays?

Rhyinn13 karma

The official does not decide officiating. Team A may be dirtier and take more penalties. It is the referees job to assess those penalties to that team. You should NEVER IN ANY SPORT try to give equal amounts of penalties to both teams. If team A has 10 penalties, it's because team A DESERVED THEM!

StealAllTheInternets4 karma

What do you think about Canadian provinces changing the age that hitting is allowed to 12 or 13?

Rhyinn13 karma

Wrong direction. Move it DOWN. The reason is that if you introduce hitting at an older age, the kids are bigger and there is a larger size difference in the players. Some players hit puberty at 12, some hit it at 14. If you have a 100 lb kid hitting a 60 lb kid, there is going to be a higher chance of injury. But if you moved the age to 9 or 10, then you'll have a 50 lb kid hitting another 50 lb kid.

Also, you have to teach players at a YOUNGER age HOW to check properly. You shouldn't allow older kids to be taught the wrong way AND have such a weight and height difference. You are just asking for trouble. I've witnessed this issue first hand.

13 year old 100 lb player incorrectly hitting a 13 year old 75 lb player. Automatic injury.

Lance_E_T_Compte4 karma

In your opinion, did the officiating decide the women's Olympic gold medal?

Rhyinn14 karma

No. The USA's defense collapsed on the penalty kill in overtime and that led to the series ending goal. They were flustered and were out of position. And they should have won in regulation and have no one to blame but themselves.

BCouto4 karma

I'll pay you $50 if you can make sure the Leafs win the cup.

I'll also offer you some crack because Toronto.

Rhyinn2 karma

I'm already sold my soul for the Browns or Indians to win it all, I have nothing left!

weealex3 karma

What's the best rules change that's happened since you started officiating?

Rhyinn4 karma

WOW. There have been a lot of bad ones IMO. The best one has to be an automatic penalty for head contact in youth / high school divisions.

aznsin123 karma

Officials use to have their names back of their jerseys NHL. would you want that back or are you ok with having a number?

Rhyinn2 karma

Love the numbers. It separates the referee from personal attacks. I have my name on my jersey because it looks awesome, but it allows for personal attacks. So instead of, "REF YOU SUCK" I now get "RHYINN YOU SUCK". It's a lot more personal and is not recommended. But I think it just looks so badass. But in the NHL there is no need for names, I love the numbers :)

mooman4133 karma

Have you ever noticed a youth player who you felt had the skills to become a pro? If so what qualities did the player have?

Rhyinn3 karma

First, top notch question. It's hard to say, because I've known kids at age 13-14 who were top 5 in their age bracket and played AAA hockey their entire life, but they just didn't grow enough physically.

It's sad to say, but genetically speaking, some people will never make it with their body type no matter how hard they work out or how skilled they are.

I currently know the best AAA 10 year old hockey player. Only time will tell if he will grow enough or even stick with it long enough to become a pro. He's the best 10 year old I've ever seen play hockey.

You can juuuuuuuust tell. They always seem to find the easiest path to the net. Even at 10 years of age every pass he makes is right on the guys stick. His shooting technique is superb. It's like he was born in a lab.

Xavdidtheshadow3 karma

I'm a bit late to this party, but hopefully you're still around.

What's your certification process like to become a ref? Are there written or practical tests? Also, what's the body that governs ref certification like and what's their relationship with the hockey leagues (or do the leagues do certification?)?


Rhyinn3 karma

My work day isn't over yet, so I'm still here!

You register at usahockey.com and pay a fee of course. You then go to a 1 day long (6 hours or so) seminar at a local ice rink. Then you take an open book 50 question test. You must get 40/50 correct.

The higher levels you go, the harder the test becomes and it isn't open book anymore.

The governing body is called USA Hockey and their relationship is nothing more than making decisions on the rules and ruling over suspensions and immoral behavior. USA Hockey both governs the leagues and referees. Some districts (I ref in the Mid American district) can have special rules over things like mouth guards, other equipment, petty little rules that never come up and other small matters.

cky-zig3 karma

Is fighting allowed in high school hockey?

Rhyinn7 karma

Absolutely not. There are repercussions in school as well as on the ice. Fighting is reserved for players above the age of 18 and in leagues where fighting is necessary.

BrutusHFX6 karma

To be fair.. fighting isn't allowed in the NHL.. the penalty just isn't that severe..

Rhyinn4 karma

Good point.

Cheech473 karma

Can you speak to the process of becoming a ref for a adult league? I play on one in Columbus, and most of the refs are somewhere between shitty and god-awful, with some notable exceptions. I figured if I wanted to change the system to do it from within. :)

Thanks for the AMA!

Rhyinn2 karma

As a Clevelander, I can say that Columbus refs are garbage. I know a few of them! =p

I'm not sure on the policy in Columbus, but for most adult leagues you have to be USA Hockey certified, as least a level 1 (first year and pass the open book exam).

Go to USAHockey.com and click on the referee banner and sign up! You'll then get a notification on when the seminar is and you'll want to talk to the guy running the seminar. (Won't type his name here but you'll know if you just ask around!)

FinMac373 karma

Could you explain icing to me? People try to tell me but i never really understand

Rhyinn6 karma

There is a center red line on the ice dividing the ice rink into two equal halves. You can't hit the puck from your side of that red line. Once the puck crosses the line at the other end of the ice, icing is called. The next faceoff is all the way back in your defensive end. This rule is there to make sure that one team isn't just shooting the puck all over the place trying to go for a "hail mary" type of play.

FinMac373 karma


Rhyinn3 karma


RonaIdBurgundy2 karma

This rule is there to make sure that one team isn't just shooting the puck all over the place trying to go for a "hail mary" type of play.

not really true , because strech passes happen all the time , it's to prevent a team that is being pinned down in its zone to be able to just clear the puck and change to fresher guys.

that's why you can't change after an icing , because it becomes a free break.

Rhyinn3 karma

Not true in all age brackets. The upper leagues have a no-change rule after icings. But yes, you're description of why icing is a rule is a very good one, also. I believe there are many reasons why icing exists, your reason being probably the best reason.

Jblomq3 karma

As an Ex-ref from Sweden (haved moving around a lot for a couple of years, so no time), kudos to you.

What kind of people(fans, parents etc) are the worst kind?

For me it was allways the parents..

Rhyinn5 karma

Younger parents are always the worst. I think dads that are coaches are equally bad. They don't read the rule book. If my son played a sport where I didn't know the rules, the first thing I'd do is read the damn rules, especially if I was the coach! You'd be surprised at how many "dad-coaches" don't know the most basic hockey rules.

Shoddy_Cobra3 karma

What are your thoughts on the NHL's automatic delay of game rule for a puck that leaves the ice? Do you think they should go back to leaving it up to the ref?

Rhyinn4 karma

Nope. I love that rule. The key to this rule is taking out the grey areas of the game. If the rules are clearly stated, you can't argue the rules! The referees are basically taken out of the equation in this case.

I would, however, be open to a single pass and all of the next ones are penalties. But I like the rule as it is now.

IMO, the NBA needs more black-and-white rules.

flgatorrrrr3 karma

How far behind is the KHL, in terms of talent, versus the NHL? Or is it closer than one may think?

Rhyinn5 karma

I'm not familiar enough with the Kontiental Hockey League to make a valuable comment on it. Sorry.

flgatorrrrr3 karma

No worries. Best of luck to you.

Rhyinn3 karma

Thank you, same to you.

Creamy_Goodne553 karma

As someone from the UK that doesnt know an awful lot about Ice Hockey the word fighting almost always comes up as soon as anyone mentions the sport.

What is your opinion on the association between Ice hockey and fighting and also what is worst incident you have ever seen on the ice between two people?

Rhyinn7 karma

Hockey is managed between the players most of the time. If a dirty player is going after a team's superstar player, that team will send one of their best fighters after the other team's dirty player.

It sends a message that you shouldn't mess with our best player and take cheap shots at him.

Also, fighting has an honor code. Much like golf's honor code (except golf has no violence). Once a player goes down, the fight's over. You can be losing the fight for 2 minutes and getting your ass kicked, but if your opponent falls to the ice, you stop fighting.

It may seem brutal and barbaric, but it's regulated internally through the players. All of the players know the code and they all follow it. That's why you very rarely see 5 or 10 game suspensions from fighting in the NHL because there is no need for it.

WiscDC4 karma

As someone in the US who is very passionate about hockey, I'd like to suggest that you try watching more hockey. Even in the NHL, nobody "watches for the fights," despite popular belief. Anyone either a) gets bored because they're actually playing hockey, or b) gets hooked on hockey because it's a wonderful game.

I'll preface this by saying that /r/Rhyinn essentially gave the definitive, correct answer, and this answer in no way is meant to go against it. I just feel that there is more to say for an audience who is unfamiliar with hockey outside of stereotypes. I also want to bring up the reasons for this being a very contentious topic in North American hockey, rather than just being some totally accepted thing. At the very least, if there's one thing to get from my comment (or wall of text), it's that you should not equate hockey and fighting.

"Five for fighting" is on its way out, but very slowly. ("Five for fighting," besides being Vladimir John Ondrasik III's stage name, refers to fighting earinng a player a 5-minute penalty - which is relatively small compared to an ejection. I specify this, because fights will happen to some degree regardless of the penalty.) The NHL will be very slow to move in that direction, but it won't be sudden or drastic. Even some hockey writers who are very much pro-fighting, such as Greg Wyshynski and Jeff Marek (he's said it multiple times on the podcast), recognize that it will be phased out. This, of course, does not mean that players won't get physical and stand up for one another - fights are going to happen.

(Before you dedicated hockey fans start chiming in about how wrong I am, remember that getting rid of "five for fighting" doesn't make players magically stop standing up for one another, and it doesn't magically turn things into a ton of cheap shots. I have season tickets to proof that it works.)

The NHL recently banned players from intentionally taking off their helmets for the purpose of fighting. They also mandated that all new players entering the league wear a visor. (This essentially makes visors on helmets mandatory, but allows guys who were already in the league to continue to choose whether or not to go bare-faced.) Mandatory visors is more about safety from pucks and high sticks, but it does have an effect on "staged fights," as players don't want to punch high-impact resistant polycarbonate shields with their bare hands.

Staged fights. That's a biggie. In a fast-paced, physical sport like hockey, there will naturally be some heat and altercations. There will be fights here and there, but those are entirely different from when two guys line up next to each other at the faceoff circle, and as soon as the puck is dropped, get rid of their sticks and helmets and start circling each other like they're about to go 12 rounds in the boxing ring. Even in the regular season, referees have been quicker to get between players who appear to be acting like boxers rather than hockey players. (These kinds of fights are far less common in the playoffs...don't be surprised if you see players mixing it up a bit but never actually dropping the gloves and getting a "fighting" penalty during this entire Stanley Cup Final.) If you really want to learn more about that kind of thing, google "Derek Boogaard New York Times" without quotes, and watch the video or read the article.

Edit: Here's the article, and here's the video. There are three parts to both of them (see the tabs at the top).

Boogaard was a classic "enforcer" who was basically in the NHL to fight, and died from an overdose when taking painkillers. Doctors looked at his brain, and the damage was frightening. It's fascinating and sad, and it includes both quotes from other enforcers he played against and his own writings that pretty much explained that most of their fights weren't actually related to the game situation - they just had to fight, and knew they were going to before the game even started.

Understandably, "five for fighting" won't be nearly as slow to leave junior hockey, which is 16-20 year olds. Here's some information on the matter. This doesn't appear to include the Candian Hockey League, which is the top level of junior hockey in Canada (and actually three leagues). Here's another article on the issue.

Lastly, because this is a controversial topic among hockey fans, I'm going to re-emphasize that "banning fighting" doesn't mean players won't fight. They'll continue to be physical, competitive, and they'll mix it up every now and then. They'll still stand up for one another. The fights will just always be the kind of fight that makes some sense in the context of the game, in the heat of the moment (the kind of thing where it'll still happen despite the threat of an ejection rather than a five minute break). These fights tend to be the more entertaining ones, anyway (in my opinion). (Yes, I said "entertaining." I despise the times when it makes a mokery of this game that I love, but that doesn't mean I never think they're justified.)

Edit 2: I apologize for the wall of text. I just really like talking about hockey, and this is a part of it that requires great care in describing.

Rhyinn3 karma

You pretty much said everything that I didn't feel like typing out (AMA's can be exhausting, who knew!?) The NHL clearly recognizes that fighting as a love-hate relationship with the sport. It DOES and DOESN'T have a place in the game. I am going to be very interested in the incremental steps they take towards fighting.

Carnatic_enthusiast3 karma

How important are captains when dealing with refs? Is it better having a level headed captain (for example, Yzerman or Sakic) who seems very poise and calm and merely explains his side of the story, or does that make any difference between a more "vocal" captain (for example, Getzlaf). Does respect play a part of it at all? How important would you say is choosing the right captain? Especially when dealing with the refs on ice.

Rhyinn3 karma

Depends what age group. Youth doesn't matter, and rarely even use captains.

High school would be your best senior player. The oldest players are probably the best to pick.

Juniors and higher are your leaders on your team. Not really your best players. You want to make your captain the head of your team. The captain doesn't really need to be respected, because he's just a moderator from the refs to the team.

Captains are not allowed to argue calls or complain. They can ask for clarification on rulings.

Choosing the right captain isn't hard, but choosing the wrong captain can backfire if they piss off the ref during a conversation.

I_Am_Intoxicated3 karma

Do you think the NHL refs actually favor a certain team in order to bring the series to more games and bring the NHL more revenue?

Rhyinn16 karma

Not at all. The NHL is one of the best IMO at making the referees call very similar games. The NHL historically has never and WILL NEVER compete with MLB and NBA or NFL.

commonone165 karma

Have to agree with this. NHL refs seem to have a lot of pride when it comes to ensuring that games are fair. The NBA on the other hand...

Rhyinn3 karma

Are just horrible. One issue are the rules, which are EXTREMELY based on judgement. Even though they claim that they aren't, everyone knows that they are. The NBA refs can call a charge or a blocking foul at any given play. I really don't like it.

I_Am_Intoxicated5 karma

Follow up, who are you routing for in the Stanley Cup & why?

Rhyinn11 karma

Rangers, because they haven't won it recently. I dislike all sports teams that are based in Cali because they seem to always win! I know that's not true, but that's just what I feel like haha Being from Ohio, we don't have much to root for, so we generally root for the teams that haven't won in a while.

HarvesterSnow3 karma

simple question here, how many times during a game are players and/or coaches lobbying for you to call a certain penalty or keep an eye on a certain player?

Rhyinn6 karma

Every time, all the time. Usually the more you communicate and let the coach know that that tactic isn't going to work, they will stop. Some coaches never learn obviously. If you legit missed a play, the captain of a team will usually let you know to keep an eye out for a certain player.

HarvesterSnow3 karma

thank you for the answer! I always wondered how much lobbying went on the ice between coaches and referees

Rhyinn3 karma

There is a lot of lobbying in the younger ages because coaches still think that you care. Once you get a little older you start getting better, more experienced refs.

patefacio2 karma

Level 3 HC ref here. Did you participate in any development camps, and if so, how were they?

Rhyinn2 karma

I went to one local district seminar in hopes of getting into the Mid Am ref program for Juniors. It sucked. I learned very little except mid-to-high level positioning. Other than that, it was a lot of nonsensical workouts and running and power skating.

They will tell you that it's worth it and depending on your district or instructor it may be, but in Ohio, there is really little to no benefit of going to any camp.

patefacio2 karma

That's an interesting contrast to my experience with d-camps. For me, they were hugely beneficial, and the best way to get a higher ranking for subsequent seasons. We were put through some crazy workouts too, which complemented calling provincial level championship games. There was a supervision crew watching each of the games we were assigned, and after each game we had a review of our performance. It was a phenomenal experience. Too bad yours wasn't the same.

Rhyinn2 karma

Indeed, too bad. Who knows where I could be today if my camp was as good as yours. It's actually pretty common for camps around my area to be sub-par.

marcopolo222 karma

Kings or Rangers?

Rhyinn4 karma


RonaIdBurgundy2 karma

What do you think about Carcillo's suspension ?

Rhyinn4 karma

The linesman was rough and grabbing him for no reason. He wasn't doing anything and wasn't a threat. Simply telling him to leave the fighting area would have sufficed there. He, of course, took offense to being grabbed and pushed. I would have reduced his suspension even further to 0 games.

millymazilla2 karma

I have a few questions

as an official, have you ever experienced a situation where a ref was running a biased show, if so how did you deal with it?

also do you ever get harassed by fans after a game for a controversial call?

Rhyinn2 karma

Multiple occasions. Sometimes you have to step in and confront the official during the game. Most of the time it's after and if you feel like he's out of control, file a report with the USA Hockey and your local assigner. I've done both, and neither situation is a good one. It's going to suck either way. There was one specific time when my partner was drunk and I asked him to leave and I finished the game by myself.

I get harassed almost every game I officiate. Every call is going to have 50% of the fans against you and 50% on your side. You have to learn at a very young age that you'll never make everyone happy and that that isn't your job.

zattk942 karma

Cross checks just in front of the crease why do some call it and others don't? I heard its something that happens battling in front so it just doesn't get called unless some one gets it in the head or something like that.

Rhyinn3 karma

Great question. The front of the net is a very peculiar spot on the ice, where battling for position is allowed with small pushes and force. Some people choose to use their sticks, not to hurt, but to angle their opponents a certain way. As long as you aren't jabbing at the kidney's, I allow this action. You also can't go for the knees or below, because that causes opponents to lose balance and fall.

akacesfan2 karma

I know that even in the regular season, some refs will let ticky-tack stuff go, but others will call literally everything that they see. Do you call penalties for everything you see, or are you more willing to let them play?

Rhyinn2 karma

I am known as a "let them play" referee. I'm fortunate that I have enough experience where I know when to "crack down" and start putting guys in the box before the game gets out of hand.

My motto is that I should never decide the outcome of a game, but instead allow the players to decide how it ends.

On the flip side of this, I know referees who take charge and make their presence known as soon as the game begins. This isn't bad all the time, but it has a time and place.

akacesfan2 karma

As a fan, I honestly prefer referees like you. It makes the game more fun to watch, and I'm sure the players appreciate it too.

Rhyinn2 karma

The good teams appreciate it. Little Timmy's mother who doesn't quite understand hockey may see it differently.

bm_572 karma

What's your cup final prediction?

Rhyinn2 karma

4-2 Kings, although I hope it goes 7 AND I hope Rangers win. Kings are playing really solid right now though.

bm_572 karma

I've got LA in 6 too! I don't even know who would win an LA-Rangers Game 7- Lundqvist activates beast mode in Game 7s and Williams does, too.

Rhyinn3 karma

Lundqvist will be the only reason they win the Cup. He will have to be god-like in all 7 games. Here's hoping!

Epogen2 karma

Was Jeff Carter's goal on Sunday a high stick?

Rhyinn4 karma

Yes, it was a good goal. It was very close, but there was enough evidence to support the goal as a good goal.

Penguinswin32 karma

Hi! I'm a softball umpire, so I know the crap you go through. With the juniors, do you ever have the crazy parents who think their kid is the greatest player on the history of ever?

Rhyinn3 karma

Of course! There is no difference in parents to any sport, they all think Little Timmy is going to be a pro one day. Usually these are the parents who don't know anything about the sport and yet pay outrageous amounts of money for their son to get the "best coaching" or whatever.

MrLittleThor2 karma

How often have you wanted to drive the Zamboni?

Rhyinn3 karma

Hahaha I've driven one plenty of times! Some of my best friends I've met through reffing while they were working at ice rinks.

Zamboni's don't turn like normal cars. So when you are driving a car and turn the steering wheel to the right and let go, the steering wheel will (for the most part) turn back to the left on it's own. Zamboni's have no power steering and are completely manual.

Some also don't have breaks. If you stop accelerating, it breaks. Very weird and hard to get used to.

You also can't see the front of the Zamboni while driving it, so you have to learn how to use the top corners to make your turns. Also, don't forget to turn off the hot water valve while slowing down or you'll make huge dips in the ice!

maltby182 karma

How justified are Red Wings fans in our tin-foil hat wearing paranoia when it comes to makeup calls and 'reputation' calls?

Rhyinn3 karma

All fans are allowed to believe whatever they want. That's what makes sports so awesome to be fans! Reputation calls are a thing, don't get me wrong. But you have to remember that referees are being judged on ALL of their calls and from game-to-game. If any referee was making bogus calls in the NHL, they wouldn't be reffing for very long.

jedavis14442 karma

Why does hockey allow fights? Does it have a reason, or is it just part of the tradition?

Rhyinn18 karma

Hockey is managed between the players most of the time. If a dirty player is going after a team's superstar player, that team will send one of their best fighters after the other team's dirty player. It sends a message that you shouldn't mess with our best player and take cheap shots at him. Also, fighting has an honor code. Much like golf's honor code (except golf has no violence). Once a player goes down, the fight's over. You can be losing the fight for 2 minutes and getting your ass kicked, but if your opponent falls to the ice, you stop fighting. It may seem brutal and barbaric, but it's regulated internally through the players. All of the players know the code and they all follow it. That's why you very rarely see 5 or 10 game suspensions from fighting in the NHL because there is no need for it.

TREEandMONKEY3 karma

What is the golf honor code?

adventurepony5 karma

If a group is playing to slow then the foursome behind them will send their best fighter to take out the other group's slowest player. Once a golfer is down, the fights over.

Rhyinn3 karma


Rhyinn3 karma

If you move your ball and no one is around to see it, you still count the stroke for that hole. Just recently someone called a penalty stroke on themselves and he didn't make it to the PGA tour because of it.

jedavis14442 karma

That was spectacularly articulate

Rhyinn6 karma

Wow, thank you very much! I really appreciate that!

Pooper_scooperr2 karma

Did you know that they're having a sale at LensCrafters this weekend? You should probably go check it out

Rhyinn3 karma

Reported. :)