As most people are aware, NHL sweaters have tie-downs sewn into the lower back portion on the inside of their jerseys. Hockey pants have a loop on the back, and it is mandatory that you run that strap through the loop, then re-attach it so your jersey is locked into that loop (most straps have both velcro and a double button). If you’re caught not doing up the strap, you’re immediately ejected from the game. Which is kinda harsh, but that’s the decision that’s been made.

The purpose of this strap is two-fold:

1) It’s supposed to stop guys from being able to get “jersey’d” in a fight (have their sweater pulled over their head), which can be dangerous, and…

2) Some fighters (mostly Bob Probert) were wearing extra loose sweaters so they would come right off in fights, and their opponent would have nothing to hold on to. That’s a pretty sizable disadvantage.

Both are dangerous situations, so it’s understandable that the NHL would want to eliminate them.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers

The problem with the fight strap, however, is that it can’t be especially tight if you want to have free range of motion, so they’re designed at a length where a guy can still get jersey’d, only the uni can’t come any farther, so he stays stuck in his sweater like a turtle.

Call me crazy, but that sounds pretty dangerous too.

I thought of this last night when I saw Micheal Haley, my old teammate, had been called up to the New York Rangers. (He’s the one Scott Hartnell punched on the bench.)

Because of the fight strap slack issue, we used to have a pre-game routine. He’d come over to my stall once his sweater was on, and it would be my job to wind his strap though the loop…then through the loop, then through the loop again and again and again a ridiculous amount of times until his jersey was being pulled back and almost coming through the loop. (You can almost see his jersey being pulled up and back in the image to the above.)

Because he fights so much, this meant that A) he couldn’t get jersey’d and…here’s the kicker…B) his sweater was so tight that no opposing fighter could really get a hold of him, especially during the initial reach. For him, it was well worth giving up a little range for the advantage of being relatively ungrabbable.

Yes, ungrabbable is a word (no it’s not).

He’s small, so to have the best chance in fights, he needs to get in relatively tight. To grab his sweater, now you have to do that. It’s pretty smart, actually, and I’m sure he’s not the lone fighter keeping his jersey settings on “extra snug.”

There’s no solution here that’s going to keep fighting safe for anyone, I’m just not sure if the tie down makes things more or less safe for the parties involved, which is why, to me, making them mandatory is kind of odd.

Comments (11)

  1. I never thought of it that way. When i played Junior, we used to tape the fight straps to make them shorter.

    Ours were the worst design in the league. Just long enough to come up over your nose, so you couldn’t see, or wiggle your way out of it. And they didn’t stop the fight like they do in the NHL now. Apparently the NHL is now using the same design now because I’ve seen more incidents this year than I have in the past 5

  2. Random fact: Matt Calvert got tossed from the Columbus-Edmonton game in the first period last night for not having his tie down done up

  3. I don’t believe this was a “getting jerseyed issue”. I believe this was more from the Rob Ray getting nekid to fight issue. How do you defend against a guy who loses his sweater and all his pads on purpose? Nothing to grab onto at all.

  4. Love hearing stories about altering equipment in order to get an edge.

    • Probert used to wear goalie cut jerseys so when guys would grab his sleeves they had way too much slack and he had more of an advantage range wise compared to regular jerseys.

      This also could be Probert, but one guy used to have his sleeves cut, than velcro’ed on so that when he was in a fight, his opponent would grab the sleeves and they’d tear away.

  5. I’ve also noticed in the rare event that a skill player does drop the gloves, they tend to not get the match penalty even though their jerseys are clearly not tied down. The jersey really does need to come completely off for a skilled guy to get in trouble for it.

  6. “Keep fighting safe”. Hockey, everybody!

  7. That’s funny, I though the only puprose a fight strap served these days was for fans to let other fans know that they have an “authentic” jersey and not a replica.

  8. I have a Gaeton Royer gamer that has a modified very short fight strap.

    Also, let us not forget the old cutting holes in the fingers of the palm for a better grip trick.

  9. i have a Nordiques jersey, and the first thing i do is show people the fight strap

  10. So tie downs are mandatory safety measures, to the point of being ejected for simply not having a button and some Velcro done up (before targeting the head with clear intent to injure)… But we’ll just go ahead and let Marc Staal take that slapper in the orbital bone/eyeball if he wants to.

    Ahh, sweet logic. Way to go NHL DOPS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *