unsportsmanlike conduct penalty hockey

Hockey is a game that is played with passion. The players are all looking for a competitive advantage against their opponent and sometimes the emotions can get the best of them.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Wondering about the other penalties in the game of hockey? Check out our other articles in the Hockey Penalties Explained series.

What is an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty in Hockey?

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is any negative specific act, gesture or verbal saying that can be done before, during or after play towards another player, coach or official. This can range from slashing a player's stick out of their hands at a faceoff, hacking a player on their ankles, cross checking a player after a whistle, mouthing off to an official or anything obscene that is out of line with the game’s values.

This video contains foul language.

What Qualifies as Unsportsmanlike Conduct in Hockey?

Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are extremely subjective and can happen in a multitude of different ways.  Generally speaking, anything done outside of the games core values could constitute as unsportsmanlike conduct. In NHL history, we have seen unsportsmanlike conduct calls against players who check the opposing player in frustration after the whistle, shooting the puck at the referee in anger, or a coach throwing sticks on the ice after a questionable call.

  • Spraying water onto an opponent as they skate by
  • Giving an extra check to an opponent after the whistle
  • Using foul language towards the referee

What is the Penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct in Hockey?

The penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct starts with a 2-minute minor penalty. If the player continues the disruptive action, they can be given an additional game misconduct. While unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are usually given to players on the ice, coaches can also be the subject of an unsportsmanlike conduct bench minor penalty or a game misconduct.

Like players, coaches can be assessed a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and if their actions continue, they can also be given a game misconduct. For coaches, if their behavior includes negative or discriminatory behavior, they can be given a match penalty under USA Hockey guidelines. Match penalties include extended suspensions and disciplinary hearings.

FAQs About Hockey Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty 

How long is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty?

For players and coaches, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty starts with a 2-minute minor penalty. If behavior persists, the player or coach can be given a game misconduct or even a match penalty depending on the severity of the action.

What are the three classifications of penalties in hockey?

For hockey, there are 3 main types of penalties which include minor penalties, major penalties, and game misconducts. The most common is a 2-minute minor penalty but certain actions can result in a 5-minute major penalty or even a game misconduct.  For game misconducts, players are entirely ejected from the game and cannot return.

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Hockey is a passionate sport and while everyone is looking for a competitive advantage, disrupting another player or coach with actions or comments that are aimed to hurt or disrupt another is unsportsmanlike. The rink is designed to be a safe and fair environment for all participants who have respect for the game.