Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Code: Hockey's unwritten rules revealed

Wait, I think one of us might be
doing it wrong.
Hockey fans often hear about the infamous "unwritten code" that governs fighting in the NHL. Any time there's an incident involving punches being thrown, you can count on someone making reference to The Code and whether a particular player's actions have violated it.

Unfortunately, it's a myth.

No, not the existence of The Code itself. It's the "unwritten" part that everyone has wrong. In reality, The Code has been written down in detail and passed on from one generation of NHL tough guys to the next. Every enforcer in the league has a copy; they just don't let us see it.

Until now, that is. I've obtained a tattered copy of The Code, and transcribed it below. It's time that hockey fans knew the truth.


Dear enforcer,

Welcome to the league. In your role as an NHL tough guy, you will be expected to conduct yourself according to a traditional set of rules and procedures. We call them The Code, and they are the rules we live by.

Please read The Code carefully and thoroughly, and follow it at all times.

Weight classes
All players shall be divided into the following weight classes, listed in descending order of toughness:
  • Heavyweight
  • Cruiserweight
  • Middleweight
  • Lightweight
  • Doug Weight
Choosing an opponent
The Code dictates that players should stay within their weight class whenever possible. For example, a heavyweight may only fight:
  • Another heavyweight
  • A cruiserweight who has instigated the confrontation
  • A lightweight who has attempted to injure a teammate
  • An overweight Flyers fan who has fallen into the penalty box.
  • The nagging feeling that your job will no longer exist in three years.
Rules of engagement
Any of the following phrases, when spoken directly to an opponent, shall be taken as a invitation to fight:
  • "Let's go."
  • "Wanna drop the gloves?"
  • "Would you like hear a detailed rundown of my fantasy draft?"
  • "Whoa oh oh, this is Canada's team!"
  • "I don't know, Paul, to be honest I find your twitter account sort of juvenile and repetitive."
When to fight
It is considered appropriate to initiate a fight when:
  • Your team has lost momentum at home, and you want to wake up the crowd
  • An opponent has committed a serious offence for which immediate retribution is required
  • You suddenly realize that you haven't been mentioned on Coach's Corner in almost three weeks
  • Colin Campbell e-mailed you and told you to. (Note: It's probably a good idea to delete the e-mail afterwards)
When not to fight
Avoid fighting under inappropriate circumstances, such as when:
  • The coach has given you specific instructions not to
  • Late in a close game, when an instigator penalty could result in a crucial powerplay goal
  • Your opponent is not expecting it, since he's busy listening to the national anthem
  • Some other completely inappropriate time, such as the playoffs
Punishable acts
Any of the following acts shall be deemed in violation of The Code, and deserving of an immediate punch in the face:
  • Shooting a puck towards the net after a whistle
  • Spraying snow on a goalie who has covered the puck
  • Revealing the ending to "The Wire" to someone who hasn't finished watching the DVDs yet
  • Attempting that cheap breakaway move from NHL 94
  • Being Sean Avery
Removal of equipment
If, in the moments immediately preceding a fight, an opposing player:
  • Removes his gloves: You must do the same
  • Removes his helmet and visor: You should do the same
  • Removes his elbow pad: You may do the same if you choose to
  • Removes his shirt and pants: You should consider the possibility that you are not actually in a fight and have instead accidentally wandered into Patrick Kane's limousine
When the fight is over
An altercation is considered over as soon as any of the following occur:
  • The linesmen make their first effort to intervene
  • One or both players goes to the ice
  • The opponent's trainer asks if you could hold off hitting him for a few seconds while they get him on to the stretcher
  • The Minnesota Wild fan gets a hand free and starts dialling his lawyer on his cell phone
  • Pretty much as soon as it begins, if you are Matt Carkner and the other guy is Colton Orr
This concludes The Code. Remember, memorize its rules and follow them at all times.

(Unless, you know, somebody makes you really mad. Then just go ahead and do whatever you want.)


  1. INSTANT CLASSIC!!!!!111

    But seriously, this is fake.

  2. I miss leafs posts...

  3. Anyone who spoils any bit of The Wire is deserving of instant death.

  4. The removal of equipment gag was top notch. Well done yet again, DGB.

  5. Doug Weight. lol
    Good stuff.

  6. Well done, sir. Although it feels a little weird that the image captions are becoming my favorit part of your posts.

  7. Forgotten in the weight class - 'Dead Weight', no relation to Doug. :)

  8. "Whoa oh oh, this is Canada's team!"

    Just about died laughing. This is awesome.

  9. I really gotta stop reading these in class...fantastic again!

  10. Amazing. Really great writing, and very funny.

  11. What, no Chris Neil joke?!? Writing for a national newspaper is messing with your Leaf loyalties. (Though I guess the Orr/Carkner line redeemed you a bit.)

    Seriously, just because the fish is already in a barrel doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot it.

  12. omar is killed and michael starts robbing dealers

  13. The limousine line kept me laughing for about a minute... The NHL will never be boring as long as Kane and Avery are around.

  14. lol and here I was expecting a Semin joke to pop up somewhere... too easy I guess :)

    great work as usual!!!

  15. Personally I would have swapped Cooke with Avery since Cooke really did get punched in the face. But kudos just the same. :)

  16. Don't forget to fight to protect Chrissy Pronger from your team's puck bag.

  17. "All players shall be divided into the following weight classes, listed in descending order of toughness:
    Doug Weight"

    kyle wellwood = overweight class?

    ~ cheers....

  18. somehow, Andrew Raycroft's glove was not the worst in the league... take a look at this


  19. 5 star effort! I loved the references to Patrick Kane and Sean Avery. Although, you should have included a Chris Pronger joke like you usually do.

  20. -Doug Weight

    -Being Sean Avery

    -Removes his shirt and pants: You should consider the possibility that you are not actually in a fight and have instead accidentally wandered into Patrick Kane's limousine

    The whole post was BRILLIANT, but these 3 made me LOL like a fool... :D

  21. Also, going on and on about "The Walking Dead," even though it's derivative and overhyped, shall result in a beating and a 5 minute major.

  22. Great blog! The most entertaining part of hockey fights is how so many commentators, especially if you've ever listening to the American braodcasts, always talk about how fighting needs to be stopped. They say there is 'no place' for it in the game, but every time a fight breaks out the crowd gets fired up and both teams pick up their game. Even the commentators get way more excited when they are announcing it. I loved the "being Sean Avery" comment in the "punishable acts" Ha!