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Fraser: Extra penalties for head-butting within a fight

Kerry Fraser
11/11/2011 6:35:59 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,

I was watching That's Hockey 2Nite the other night and they briefly talked about a Nick Johnson head-butt on Jarome Iginla during a fight on Tuesday. Both players were penalized after the fight, but Johnson received an additional 10-minute match penalty, and an extra five minutes for the head-butt.
I'm a bit confused about the additional five minutes for head-butting. Are referees meant to be giving penalties for what happens within a fight? It is, after all, a fight.
The apparent infraction did not occur during regular play, and I feel like elbowing, tripping and a whole lot of roughing occurs in fights in general. I understand that referees have to use a large amount of discretion in each and every play, but I felt as though that call, in particular, should be left to Sheriff Shanahan and the NHL to deal with. Different players use different tactics in fights, such as pulling the other players' jersey over his head while filling him with uppercuts. The head-butt was certainly a dirtier move, but again, it was in a fight. To me, what occurred was an infraction of a "fighting code" that exists among players, and not something that ought to be addressed with an in-game penalty. It also seems to set a bit of a strange precedent for future fights, and what refs should or shouldn't be watching for.
Love the blog, thanks for your time and keep up the good work.

Hi Adam:

While the head-butt occurred during the fight, it is ruled as a separate violation under rule 47. The latitude the referee has that you speak of allows for the assessment of double-minor for an attempted head-butt or a major penalty and automatic game misconduct if contact to an opponent is made.

A match penalty is imposed on a player who injures an opponent as a result of a head-butt. There must have been some evidence of injury to the mouth area of Jarome Iginla that resulted from the Nick Johnson head-butt delivered on 'Iggy' from close range during the fight.

While there are no specific fines or suspensions for head-butting, supplementary discipline can be applied as we saw with the suspension to Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta for his impersonation of a Ram.

When a match penalty is assessed, whether for deliberate injury or attempt to injure an opponent, a total of 10 minutes is charged in the records against the offending player but only a 5-minute time penalty is put on the clock. (When I started officiating in the 1970's a 5-minute match penalty was for attempt to injure while a 10-minute match penalty was for deliberate injury.)

In addition to the time penalty and ejection from the game, the player assessed a match penalty is automatically suspended pending a hearing by the Commissioner or his designate (Brendan Shanahan). This play was nothing even close to the devastating head-butt(s) that Kaleta delivered. Patrick Kaleta received a lighter sentence than deserved in my judgment based on his actions!

Certain tactics are utilized and allowed during the course of a fight Adam, but violation of specific rules such as head-butting, pulling hair, biting, cutting an opponent while wearing tape on hand(s) and others incur a separate time penalty in addition to the 5-minute major for fighting. I hope this clarifies any confusion you might have had.

Hey Gang, Schedule Update: C'mon Ref takes his whistle on the road...

This is Hockey Hall of Fame Induction weekend in Toronto. Every hockey fan should be excited about honouring the All-Time Great players of our game. I am certainly no exception in this regard.

I will be at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night to watch the Leafs play Ottawa. On Sunday afternoon at 2pm I'll be back on the ACC ice with my friend and former colleagues, Ron Hoggarth and Hall of Fame linesman, Ray Scapinello to referee and act as an on-ice master of ceremonies for the Legends Classic game.

I am thrilled to be able to skate on their ice once again to honour all the great players from the past; especially those that are being inducted this year starting with my good friends Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and Mark Howe. (Nobody had better high stick "Killer" in this game because I won't miss it the second time around!)

Monday, Nov. 14 is a very busy day in Toronto. 

My book, "The Final Call" is being released this weekend by Fenn/McClelland & Stewart in a trade paperback with an updated chapter. I invite you to stop by and say hello at a 12:30pm lunch time book signing I'm doing at Indigo Spirit store, First Canadian Place (Bay & King). C'mon Ref!!!

Next up I have the pleasure of co-hosting The Power Play show on NHL Home Ice, Sirius 207 XM Channel 92 with Jamie Shalley between 4-6pm et.

Then it's off to the Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. For those not fortunate enough to have a ticket to the HHOF Induction Ceremony on Monday evening fear not; you can watch it live on TSN2 from 7:30-9pm et.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15 I fly from Toronto to Edmonton and join former NHL Legends, Billy Smith, Theo Fleury, Ron Duguay, Cliff Ronning, Dennis Polonich, Larry Melnyk, and Jimmy Mann for a six-game-in-seven-night tour through Alberta that finishes up in Regina. I might even have some stories to share!

I hope to see you in my travels. Isn't retirement grand?

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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