Approved at the Hockey Canada Annual General Meeting in Calgary, Alta., in May, Hockey Canada’s new head
contact rules are zero tolerance, implemented to cut down on the number of head injuries suffered in the
The new rule will be in effect immediately, beginning with the start of the 2011-12 season.
Below is the wording included in the Hockey Canada Rule Book, outlining when the penalty is to be called
and what penalty is to be assessed.
Rule 6.5 – Head Contact
(a) In minor hockey and female hockey, a minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who accidentally
contacts an opponent in the head, face or neck with his stick or any part of the player’s body or
(b) In minor hockey and female hockey, a double minor penalty or a major and a game misconduct penalty, at
the discretion of the referee and based on the degree of violence of impact shall be assessed to any player
who intentionally contacts an opponent in the head, face or neck with her stick or any part of the player’s
body or equipment.
(c) In junior hockey and senior hockey, a minor and a misconduct penalty, or a major and a game misconduct
penalty, at the discretion of the referee based on the degree of violence of impact, shall be assessed to any
player who checks an opponent in the head in any manner.
(d) A major and a game misconduct penalty, or a match penalty shall be assessed any player who injures an
opponent under this rule.
(e) A match penalty shall be assessed any player who deliberately attempts to injure or deliberately
injures an opponent under this rule.
Note: All contact above the shoulders (neck, face and head) is to be called Head Contact under one of
the above (In minor hockey and female hockey).
Clarifications on Head Contact for junior hockey and senior hockey only
Referees should be aware of the tragic consequences of head injuries and concussions and strictly enforce
the rule. It is the responsibility of players, team officials and referees to make every attempt possible to
reduce the incident of this frightful injury. Team officials can teach players legitimate methods of checking
an opponent, while players can be educated to the dangers of checks to the head. The referee has the
responsibility to penalize players who contact an opponent in the head. If the referees are consistent and
strict in calling infractions that may lead to concussions, then along with the cooperation of players and
team officials, these type of fouls and the chances of a player suffering such injuries can be significantly
reduced. The Head Contact penalty is based on the “degree of violence of impact” and can be defined in three
categories: minimal, moderate and severe.
Minimal impact would be called under other appropriate rules – elbowing, high-sticking, roughing, roughing
after the whistle, etc. A glancing blow or minimal impact to the head where a penalty is warranted.
Moderate impact would be a more significant degree of violence without injury that warrants a minor and
misconduct penalty under the Head Contact rule.
Severe impact would be a high degree of violence, with or without injury, which warrants a major and game
misconduct or a match penalty, at the discretion of the referee under the Head Contact rule.
What previously may have been considered a legal check with a shoulder check to the head shall now be
penalized as Head Contact if moderate or severe impact is made. These Head Contact infractions can occur
anywhere on the playing surface as a result of the initial contact to the head. Head Contact could also be
the result of an open ice hit, with or without the fouled player’s head being down. Body checking has not be
been removed from the game, but high hits or targeting the head shall be penalized. A fight is still to be
called a fight, not Head Contact. Referees are to strictly enforce penalties that call for infractions as a
result of low hits as these types of infractions may increase. The penalty signal for Head Contact will be
patting flat (open palm) of the non-whistle hand on the side of the head.