Hockey 101: Throwing the Stick


This post is part of our series Hockey 101 – geared towards newer fans.

Every skater is responsible for the one piece of equipment he isn’t wearing. His stick is an extension of himself. Throwing the stick is an illegal play for a multitude of reasons. This article will explain why. Besides, do I really need to tell you what the “throwing the stick” penalty is? Here’s a hint. Players can’t throw their sticks at each other.

Throwing the stick
Let’s hope this Avalanche player doesn’t let go of that stick! (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Throwing the Stick: The Dangers

A hockey stick is not a soft and fluffy pillow. It is a hard blend of composite materials that can be considered a weapon. Every player is responsible for his own personal “weapon.” When a hockey stick is broken during a play, the player is not allowed to continue with it. But he is not supposed to toss his stick away. He must place it on the ice and continue without the broken stick.

The reason throwing the stick is an illegal action is because it is a hard material hurtling through the air. Even if not thrown in the air, sliding it on the ice can trip an opponent and also provides an unfair defensive advantage. For instance, if the defender can’t catch his opponent, simply sliding the stick in his pathway would force him to avoid it and cause him to lose his advantage.

Goalies Count Too

throwing the stick
If Fleury loses his grip and the stick falls out, he would be assessed a penalty

A goalie doesn’t usually get the same treatment as the skaters in front of him. But, a goalie cannot let go of his stick either. Some times, a goaltender will try and poke the puck away from a skater with his stick. To do that, he has to loosen his grip on the “paddle” and let it slide all the way to top. He has to catch it before it slides all the way straight through his hand. Otherwise, he too would be assessed a minor penalty and a member of his team must serve it for him.