Hi Kerry, Long time reader on TSN from Denmark here. Seeing the Laine hit and following scrum made me think what happens if both teams are assessed too many game misconducts to be able to finish the game, even with a 3 on 3 format? I have tried to do a google search on the topic but either I am not searching using the correct terms or no-one really knows what happens. Thank you...Peter Staunstrup.
Ask The Ref?
Thank you for the question. We appreciate your long-time following on TSN and now on kerryfraser.com all the way from Denmark.
While the question you pose could perhaps occur in theory, the reality is that neither the Referee or the Commissioner would allow a situation to escalate to the point where the the game would end in a forfeit due to an insufficient compliment of players to participate. As they say on Broadway, "The Show Must Go On!"
Rule 26.1--Delayed Penalty--provides that no less than three skaters are required on the ice for each team.
Rule 66--Forfeit of Game-- states in the event of failure by a Club to comply with a provision of the League constitution, by-laws, resolutions, rules or regulations affecting the playing of the game, the Referee shall, if so directed by the Commissioner or his designee, refuse to permit the game to proceed until the offending Club comes into compliance with such provision. Should the offending club persist in its refusal to come into compliance, the Referee, with the approval of the Commission or his designee, declare the game forfeited and the non-offending Club the winner. Should the Referee declare the game forfeited because both Clubs have refused to comply with such a provision, the visiting Club shall be declared the winner.
Short of an act of God, I can't think of a situation where a game would be forfeited - and even then the game would likely just be postponed. Several times we have had games suspended and rescheduled as a result of unusual circumstances.
In the most extreme case that you suggest Peter, the Referee(s) would manage the situation, with input from the Department of Hockey Operations, to only assess penalties and a minimal number of game misconducts that would allow the game to continue. That being said, all players would be subject to supplementary discipline and the Referee(s) would be required to file a report immediately following the game. They would certainly keep enough players in the game (and on the bench) to finish the contest.
If you care to read on, let me share a situation that happened to me in my very first year of refereeing where I threatened to forfeit a game. I was signed to an NHL officiating contract at the beginning of the 1973-74 season. The NHL assigned me to the Western Hockey League to work the entire playoffs right through to the Memorial Cup Final held in Calgary that year. The hockey was extremely tough and a great proving ground for future NHL players and officials. I was only 2 years older than players in their final season of Junior eligibility.
My colleague, former NHL referee Charlie Banfield, and I were assigned to alternating games in the Western Conference Final between the Big Bad New Westminster Bruins and the Calgary Centennials. Future NY Ranger Captain Ron Greschner was the New West captain and led a group of really tough players. There was no doubt that 'Gresch' would be a future star in the NHL given that he led the Bruins in scoring in his final season of Junior with 103 points from his position as a defenceman (33 goals, 70 assists in 67 games).
Scoring prowess aside, Greschner also recorded 170 penalty minutes; just 4 minutes less than teammate Don Hay but much less than Reg Duncombe - 369; Brian Anderson - 317; Clayton Pachal - 278; Sid Prysunka - 247 and Eric Sanderson - 212 penalty minutes. Can you imagine dealing with a team with this kind of fistic firepower in the line-up? The team was under the full control and influence of a wild and crazy coach by the name of Ernie "Punch" McLean.
Every game in the Western Final resulted in bench clearing brawls - sometimes even twice per game! Charlie and I were up writing reports at all hours of the night to commissioner Ed Chynoweth following each game that we worked. Late in the series I had a game in Calgary where they dumped the benches on two separate occasions.
The 2nd bench clearing started with a line brawl when big Harold Phillipoff (6'3"- 220 lbs. and a future Atlanta Flames and Chicago Blackhawks player) grabbed Danny Gare (Buffalo Sabres) out of the herd. Gare was a star player for the Centennials and much smaller than Phillipoff. I grabbed the two players by the front of their jerseys and twisted with all my might in an effort to protect Gare as I was reading the riot act to big Harold.
My adrenalin was pumping and I had them in hand until I became arm weary and Phillipoff was able to undue Gare's helmet chin strap. Once undone, the New West Bruin yanked Gare's helmet off his head by the strap, brought it down to his knees and with one swift motion swung the helmet up to whack Gare on the head with it. (That was a match penalty.)
To everyone's surprise the helmet slammed back on Gare's head the same way it came off - a perfect fit! I let them go at that point and to my amazement Danny Gare speed bagged Harold Phillipoff with both hands leaving Phillipoff's face cut and bloodied. The benches cleared and everybody was into it.
At one point near the end of the brawl I focused my attention to the vacant Calgary bench and saw the Centennial's trainer and team bus driver, Jim "Bearcat" Murray on the ice collecting the Bruins hockey gloves and throwing them into the crowd. Greschner and company saw it as well and charged Bearcat as the little bald-headed trainer jumped over the boards into his team's bench. The only thing that stopped Gresch and his band of tough guys was my physical intervention and verbal threats while standing in front the diminutive trainer.
I sent both teams to their respective dressing room and said I would notify them when they could return. I wanted a cooling off period.
After about 15-20 minutes I sent a list of penalties into each dressing room with the official scorer and summoned the teams to the ice. The Calgary Centennials quickly appeared from their dressing room and took their bench. I was informed by the official scorer that Coach Ernie McLean said his team wasn't coming out. I was beyond 'pissed'!
I stormed into the Bruins dressing room, walked down a couple of stairs in old Calgary Corral and met Ernie McLean in full view of all his players. I said, "Ernie you've got 5 minutes to get your players on the ice to start play or I am going to forfeit this game in favor of the Centennials!
Coach McLean said, "Kerry all we want is a fair shake" to which I responded, "Ernie, you know you have gotten a fair shake throughout this entire series and Charlie [Banfield] and I have had enough of your bullshit and we are both fed up with the way this series is being played. So consider yourself duly notified - you've got 5 minutes and the game is over!"
I'll never forget the response as I turned and started to walk up the couple of steps to exit the visitors dressing room; with a loud shout Coach Ernie McLean yelled to his players, "Lets go boys!!" and the New Westminster Bruins followed me onto the ice. In that moment I knew that I had won the battle of wills over a legendary coach in the WHL. As a 22 year old, first year referee I had been pushed to the limit and I passed the test.
The New Westminster Bruins were defeated by the highly skilled Calgary Centennials in that series where intimidation did not win out. Calgary then lost to Bob Turner's Regina Pats led by big Clark Gillies (4 time Stanley Cup winner with NY Islanders).
The Pats then won the Memorial Cup, which I was selected to referee, with a victory over the Quebec Ramparts in the final game on national television in Canada. There were so many lessons that I learned in that first season as a referee and in hindsight I am very thankful for the challenges and difficult situations that I was presented with.