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Hugging it out in the NHL

With the Stanley Cup finals well underway, hockey has been on my mind as much as etiquette.  To someone who does not follow the sport, hockey comes across as unnecessarily violent.  So how could it possibly relate to etiquette?

Hockey, is undeniably Canada’s national sport, and like most things Canadian, it is a relatively respectful and polite game, and so are its players.  Rules are taken very seriously.  Even fighting in hockey follows certain rules of etiquette:

1. Respect for the competitor.  Fighting in hockey is an established tradition but there is a general understanding of respect between players of the same and opposing teams. Respect for others is of course the basis of etiquette.

2.  Opposing enforcers must agree to fight.  If one player starts throwing punches without the verbal or physical consent of his opposer, he will be issued an instigator penalty.

3.  A free pass for injuries.  A ‘free pass’ is when a player instigates a fight but the opposer refuses because he is playing with injury.  The decline is accepted because winning an unfair fight is considered an empty victory.

4. The ‘third man in’ rule.  This rule did not exist in the early days of the game, but was created to avoid ‘clearing the bench’ type brawls.  If two players are in the midst of a fight, a third player who tries to join will be ejected.

5. Fight a clean fight.  Etiquette for a clean fight is maintained by removing any equipment that could injure the opposing player.  This includes removing gloves, masks, and of course, laying down hockey sticks.

Hockey is a fast moving, aggressive sport, and the heat is turned up in the finals.  But if even professional hockey players can follow the rules of etiquette in the game, you can follow etiquette rules in your life too.


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