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Penalty Infraction Minutes (PIM) in Hockey: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever been to a hockey game or watched one on TV, you’ve likely seen a player sent to the penalty box. But have you wondered about the impact of these penalty minutes on the game or the player?

Welcome to the world of PIM or Penalty Infraction Minutes in hockey, a significant yet often overlooked aspect of the sport.

What is PIM and its Role in Hockey?

PIM stands for “Penalties in Minutes” in the world of hockey. It’s the total time that a player has been penalized in a game, season, or career. It’s more than just numbers; it’s a record of the player’s discipline or lack thereof. But remember, it’s not just about avoiding penalties; a calculated penalty could be a strategic move in a game.

Understanding PIMs could unlock a deeper appreciation of the game. For an in-depth understanding of hockey rules, you can refer to our guide on Ice Hockey Rules. 

Types of Penalties and Their Impact on PIM

Understanding Different Penalty Types: Minor, Major, and Misconduct

Hockey penalties vary in severity and duration, directly affecting a player’s PIM. The most common types are minor, major, and misconduct penalties. Each carries a different duration and consequence for the penalized player and their team.

  • Specific Penalty Types: 2-Minute Penalties, 5-Minute Major, and More

Two-minute minor penalties are given for infractions such as tripping, hooking, or high-sticking, while five-minute major penalties are reserved for more severe offenses like fighting or causing injury. Some penalties even carry a game misconduct, resulting in the player being ejected for the remainder of the game.

  • Exploring Uncommon Penalties: 7-Minute, 10-Minute, and Unique Cases

While two and five-minute penalties are the most common, hockey also has some unique cases like the rare 7-minute penalty, or the 10-minute misconduct which doesn’t affect team strength but removes the penalized player for a significant period.

  • The Consequences of Penalties: Game Ejections, Misconduct, and PIM

The result of these penalties is a marked increase in a player’s PIM and the potential swing in game momentum due to power plays. This directly influences the team’s performance and the player’s reputation.

Let’s take a detailed look at different types of penalties and the penalty minutes (PIM) they incur.

Type of PenaltyCorresponding PIMCommon Causes
Minor2Tripping, high sticking
Major5Fighting, boarding
Misconduct10Unsportsmanlike conduct
Game Misconduct10 plus ejectionIntent to injure
Match5 plus ejectionDeliberate injury attempts

Penalties in Minutes (PIM) in the Context of the NHL

All-Time PIM Leaders in the NHL: A Historical Perspective

When it comes to PIM, some players have racked up records that still hold. Players like Tiger Williams and Dale Hunter sit atop the all-time PIM leaderboard in the NHL. Williams, in fact, holds the unenviable record of most PIM in an NHL career with an astounding 3966 minutes.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are players like Wayne Gretzky who, despite their aggressive play, managed to limit their penalty minutes. Gretzky’s career PIM is an example of controlled aggression and superior game sense.

Here’s a snapshot of the players with the most accumulated penalty minutes in NHL history.

Player NameTotal Career PIMYears ActiveTeams
Tiger Dave Williams3,9711974-1988TOR, VAN, DET, LAK
Dale Hunter35651980-1999QUE, WSH, COL
Tie Domi35151989-2006TOR, NYR, WPG
Marty McSorley33811983-2000PIT, EDM, LAK, NYR, SJS, BOS
Bob Probert33001985-2002DET, CHI
  • Unique Records: The Most PIM by a Goalie in a Season, Most PIM in One Game

Interestingly, goalies aren’t immune to the penalty minutes phenomenon either. Ron Hextall holds the record for most PIM by a goalie in a single season, while Patrick Roy has the most career PIM for a goalie.

Wayne Gretzky’s PIM Record and Other NHL Achievements

Even the great Wayne Gretzky spent some time in the penalty box. Despite his relatively clean record, Gretzky amassed a total of 577 PIM over his stellar career. His achievements in scoring, assists, and yes, even penalty minutes, are legendary and further cement his status as an icon of the sport.

Power Plays and Special Hockey Terms

What is Power Play in Hockey?

A penalty to the opposing team means a hockey power play for yours. It’s an opportunity to have one more player on the ice than your opponents, giving you a significant advantage. The team with the most efficient power play often holds the upper hand in a close game.

Power Play Records: Teams and Players with the Best PP in NHL

Speaking of power plays, the NHL has seen some exceptional teams and players excel in these scenarios. The 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, for example, hold the record for the best single-season power-play percentage at an astonishing 31.9%.

Hockey Terminology: Understanding SHG, SOA, +/-, and More

AbbreviationFull FormExplanation
SHGShort Handed GoalsGoals scored by a team when they are at a numerical disadvantage due to penalties.
SOAShots On AttemptThe total number of shots that were directed towards the opponent's net, including the ones blocked or missed the net.
+/-Plus-MinusA player's plus-minus statistic is increased by one ('plus') for each goal their team scores while they are on the ice, and decreased by one ('minus') for each goal their team allows while they are on the ice.

Player Behaviour and Physicality in Hockey

Exploring Hockey Brawls: Reasons and Impact on PIM

Hockey, with its high-speed action and physical contact, sometimes leads to brawls on the ice. Though they contribute significantly to a player’s PIM, fights can also be strategic, a way to shift momentum or stand up for a teammate. Remember, hockey isn’t just about scoring goals, it’s about team spirit and toughness as well.

Body Checking in NHL: Players with the Highest Records

Body checking is another important facet of hockey, often leading to penalty minutes. NHL greats like Scott Stevens are known for their fearsome body checks. However, body checking should be strategic and within the rules of the game, as excessive or improper body checks lead to penalties and increase a player’s PIM.

Impact of Physicality on Player and Team Performance

Physicality plays a significant role in the sport of hockey. It can influence a team’s performance, player morale, and even game outcomes. Yet, there’s a fine line between being physical and being penalized. It’s a balance that every player must learn to master.

hockey players in penalty waiting area

Final Thoughts: PIM and the Future of Hockey

Penalties are a part of hockey, just as goals and assists are. They add an extra layer of strategy to the game and hold players accountable for their actions on the ice. PIM, as a statistical measure, helps us understand this aspect of the game in more depth.

Future Predictions: Changes to the PIM System and Hockey Rules

The future of hockey could see changes in the PIM system. Some suggest differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ penalties in the stat line. Others propose more nuanced rules around body checking and fighting. Whatever the future holds, PIM will remain a vital part of understanding the complex and thrilling game of hockey.

Answering Common Questions about PIM and Hockey Rules

What does Chel mean in the NHL?

“Chel” is a slang term for the NHL (N-H-L sounds like “Chel”). It’s often used when referring to the popular video game series NHL, produced by EA Sports.

How many penalty minutes did Gretzky have?

Wayne Gretzky, known for his scoring prowess and not his time in the penalty box, had a total of 577 PIM over his career.

Who holds the record for the most penalty minutes in NHL?

Dave “Tiger” Williams holds the record for the most penalty minutes in an NHL career, with a whopping 3966 PIM.

What’s the NHL record for PIMs in a game?

The NHL record for most PIMs in a game by a team is 125, set by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2004.

What does PM mean in hockey standings?

In hockey standings, “PM” usually refers to Plus/Minus, a statistic that reflects the goal differential when a player is on the ice during even-strength situations.

Do you still get a power play if you score on a delayed penalty?

Yes, if a team scores on a delayed penalty (the penalty hasn’t been officially called yet because the offending team hasn’t touched the puck), the penalty is still assessed and the team still gets a power play.

References and Further Resoucres to Follow

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