Calm down, Oakland Raiders fans, not that “Tuck Rule.” Lost amid all of the attention being paid to the National Hockey League’s new policy that disallows players from removing their helmets when engaging in a fight, there is another piece of uniform protocol being enforced this season: the ‘no-tuck rule.’
Semin hadn’t shot the puck over the glass from his own end. Semin also hadn’t used his glove to cover the puck. Instead, Semin was guilty of tucking-in his jersey.
Many fans still seem unaware of the rule, but the league recently released an info-graphic that outlines their uniform policy.
In reference to the issue of tucking one’s jersey, the NHL Uniform Guidelines dictate that “Players are not permitted to tuck their jersey into their pants in such a manner where the top padding of the pant and/or additional body protection (affixed to the Player’s body) is exposed outside the jersey.”
According to NHL VP of Hockey Operations Kris King, the ‘jersey tuck rule’ has been explicitly written in the league’s rulebook since 1964. King expounded, “We just haven’t called it.”
Players found to be in violation of this, or any other, uniform guideline will first receive a warning from an official. If the problem persists, they will be whistled for a two-minute delay of game. Following this punishment, a player still found to be in violation will be subject to varying degrees of misconduct assessments.
“We’re aware of it. [Semin] wasn’t doing it on purpose,” chided Carolina head coach Kirk Muller. “First time wearing the jerseys and [the jersey flap] kind of just kept popping up.”
One of the more well-known jersey-tuckers in the league is Semin’s former Washington Capitals running mate, Alex Ovechkin. To no one’s surprise, Ovechkin refused to mix words on the issue.
“I think it’s kind of stupid… I think if the NHL wants to make a show, this is a show. You can see the young kids look at the players… Like tinted visors or yellow laces, they do what the NHL players do… It’s stupid.”
Washington’s head coach, Hall of Famer Adam Oates, backed The Great 8 by citing The Great One.
“It’s a rule. Do I like it? Well, no. I know when [Wayne] Gretzky had his shirt Velcro-ed in it was part of his identity. Superstars have identities, that’s why they’re superstars. It’s part of their makeup and their personality. It’s why they transcend the game; it’s why we advertise them… I understand it… but taking a guy’s individuality away is tough.”
Semin, Ovechkin, and Boston Bruins forward/jersey-tucker Patrice Bergeron all agree that, with the way they wear their gear, their jerseys often end up caught in the back of their pants organically.
“I mean, I’m not even tucking it in. It goes in when I bend over, and I just leave it there,” explained Bergeron. “I don’t see how that really affects other players.”
My biggest concern with this rule is how officials will handle incidents where players find their jerseys unintentionally becoming tucked, possibly multiple times throughout a game. I’d hate to see a player penalized for fighting through a hit because his jersey ended up in the back of his pants.
Though I’m not a fan of the jersey-tuck aesthetically, it’s hard to disagree with Bergeron’s assessment. A player choosing to tuck his jersey into his pants really isn’t exposing himself to any added risk of injury, nor is he gaining any sort of competitive edge over his opponents. This set of rules seems more like something the NFL would put together to impede individuality. Like the NHL, the No Fun League would thinly veil their uniform protocol as guided measures to assure player safety.
I certainly believe in the concept of one cohesive unit over a collection of individuals, particularly in such a team-oriented sport. Therefore, if a coach or an individual organization wants to mandate that their players not intentionally employ this look, I’m all for it.
One of the more beautiful sights in hockey is seeing a player like Mike Modano flying down the ice with his jersey flapping behind him. With all due respect to Gretzky, that’s the hockey player image that I want to see.
Do you think it’s up to the NHL to determine whether or not players can tuck-in their jerseys? Are you a fan of the jersey-tuck? Leave a comment or tweet me @BostonNumber9 and my team @TMMotS and @FanSidedNHL.