Hockey 101: Holding and Holding the Stick

This is part of our Hockey 101 Series geared towards the new hockey fan.


A holding penalty is another common penalty in today’s NHL. Often, it is the result of one player falling behind the progress of an opponent (read: getting burned).  The NHL rulebook defines the holding penalty as follows:

Any action by a player that retards the progress of an opposing player whether or not he is in possession of the puck

–NHL Rulebook, Rule 54.1

holding penalty
If the Avalanche player were to grab the Penguins skater, this would be a holding penalty (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Holding and Holding the Stick Examples

To explain holding any further than “grabbing a player and restricting his movement” would be heavily redundant and severely boring. Instead, take a look at some other examples of it happening in game action.

A penalty shot was assessed in this situation because Joe Pavelski was denied a clear scoring chance and the offending Red Wing was the last skater back. You can clearly see the defender grab Pavelski’s hand with his free hand. The restraint is a hold and a penalty.

The concept is the same for holding the stick. If a defender grabs an opponent’s stick and disallows the skater to move his stick, it is called “Holding the Stick.”

Holding penalty
A textbook example of a holding the stick penalty, the Penguin defender is grabbing the Stars player’s stick

The final form of the holding penalty involves both hands of a defender. Designated as a “wrap,” this form looks more like a hug than a penalty. These penalties often occur in the corners and along the boards. A player can restrain an opponent with his stick hand and his free hand. In hockey, not only is there no crying, there are no hugs either.