Hockey 101: Too Many Men


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

The majority of hockey games are played five on five (excluding goalies). The Too Many Men penalty is exactly as it sounds. A team is only allowed a certain amount of players on the ice (including goalies). Here we will explain how a team violates this rule. By the way, there is no rule against voluntarily putting less than the required amount of skaters out there.

When is it Too Many Men?

There are a lot of gray areas in terms of how many players are on the ice at a time. For instance, every single change on the fly that takes place, there are guys coming on and off the ice at once. It is almost impossible, in that situation, to expect teams to keep the required number on. Sometimes there are four skaters, sometimes six, and even more. But as long as it is within seconds of coming on or off, the referees are usually lenient enough to allow that discrepancy.

Too Many Men
(Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE)

Then, of course, there are moments where a team is allowed to bring on a sixth skater. But this is only in the event that they sacrifice their goaltender for the extra man. As the game is ending and a team is trailing, they will pull their goalie and put on another skater. That is not a penalty as there are still only six players on the ice. The rule is the same when they pull their goalie on a delayed penalty.

How do the Refs Call It Then?

As mentioned before, there is a grace period where teams have a few seconds to get the proper amount of players on the ice. But, after a few seconds, if the team has too many men on and one is not headed to the bench, a ref can blow play dead.

In addition, Too Many Men can be called if one of the extra skaters touches the puck while there are still too many out. No matter how quickly it happens. In this instance, there is no grace period. He is deemed an extra skater if he had just come onto the ice and the man he replaced had not gotten off yet.

Wait, Who’s the Unlucky Guy in the Box Then?

Too Many Men is considered a bench minor. That means that no single player is the offender. But, someone must serve the two minutes in the box. The head coach of the offending team can designate any skater on his team to serve the time.