The Code

The Code in effect, with several neutral observers ensuring careful adherence


Hooo-weee! We’re not even into the regular season yet and already there are crazy injuries and suspensions and bench-clearing brawls, all of which lead to a lot of discussions in hockey circles about “The Code”. The Code is an unwritten set of rules passed along from generation to generation used to govern the conduct of players in situations outside the purview of the NHL rulebook. Fighting is a common result or application of The Code. It is the karmic restoration of harmony and honour in a wicked, frostbitten icescape. You crosscheck our guy; we knock your guy’s teeth out. You bite our guy’s finger; we crosscheck your guy. It’s all perfectly logical. However, for even the most ardent fan of the game, The Code can be hard to decipher. When and why is it applied? Do the participants universally understand the rules? Do these rules change over time? Who wrote this code and why?

Folks, you know by now that I am a dedicated and intrepid investigative journalist and that I wasn’t about to let you down here. Though challenging to put in print due to being largely an oral and speculative tradition, I have laid out the basic history and tenets of The Code below. It may serve to clarify your own opinions when discussing all of the suspensions, concussions, broken bones, and hurtful words sure to come in the 2014 season.

It’s important to have a code. Sometimes rules are not enough. Sometimes you need vague notions of principle to guide your fist to the truth. Without a code, all we’d have in hockey would be goals, saves, great plays and creative strategy – and what kind of game would that be? Crokinole, that’s what. And Crokinole is for pansies.


The Code, or as it’s known in its original French, “Loi D’Imbicile” began in rural Quebec in 1892. Patrice Garcon, RW for the Quebec Bulldogs took offense to Benoit McCutcheon, D for the Montreal Shamrocks, suggesting that Garcon’s wife was more in need of Garcon’s mustache wax than Garcon. The game came to a halt while the two men traded wicked verbal barbs that resulted in a post-game duel. McCutcheon was run through the pancreas by Garcon, the superior swordsman, and honour was restored to both Mrs. Denise “Push-broom” Garcon and the Quebec Hockey Club. Ironically, Garcon died three weeks later from an infected scratch dealt to him by McCutheon’s rusty epee.

When management from both teams met to work out a truce and prevent any further loss of assets, it was decided that a gentleman’s code of conduct was required to control on-ice gaucheries. The actual authors of the code are unknown as all were sworn to secrecy lest they suffer any repercussions from the ACHL Executive for creating a virtual “shadow constitution” that might be seen as undermining the official league rules. Many feel that both the assassination of Benoit Prudhomme (by blow dart) in 1909 and the infamous “Dung Heap” incident of 1898 (in which Michel Tellier was forced to have his olfactory senses surgically removed) were sparked by attempts to root out and punish the seditionist parties. Despite those early controversies, The Code has proven resilient, and has been adhered to with relatively few changes since its inception.

Like a decades-old game of telephone, though, it’s hard to know which elements of today’s Code have been accurately remembered or interpreted from the original. I have done my best, translating and working with historians from three different online Universities to provide the most comprehensive and accurate version of The Code as hockey players now apply it. I hope you find it illuminating!



Retaliation shall be considered if, and only if, the aggrieved party has satisfied the following areas of inquiry:

  1. What did you say to me? Hey. Hey, Weasel, look at me! You got something to say to me?
  2. You think you’re funny? Think you’re funny, smart guy?
  3. Think you’d be funny with my fist in your face?
  4. You think it’s okay to pull that s**t out here?
  5. You wanna go? I’ll go ya! I’ll tune you right up, Mother****er!
  6. Are we doin’ this or you just gonna beak all night?
  7. You did what to my wife?!
  8. You got some kind of death wish, jerkoff?


Once impropriety has been properly assessed and invitation for pugilistic response tacitly approved, the aggrieved party must adhere as closely as possible to the Meritorious Scale of Injury in their retaliation.

  • Impugning of manhood = 1 black eye, 2 broken teeth
  • Invocation of wife and/or mother = 1 bloodied nose, 1-3 broken ribs, concussion optional
  • Goaltender interference/injury = 1 groin flurry (6-12 punches), 1 collarbone fracture, 2-4 broken teeth
  • Injury to star teammate = full facial assault, 1 shoulder dislocation, 1 pet limb amputation* (post-game at an agreed-upon hour of earliest convenience)  
  • Season-ending injury to any teammate = the lash

*Only one limb per pet. If pet has already lost a limb to previous adjudication, injurious party must accept 1 punch to the groin in lieu.


Upon completion of any altercation, the parties will agree to consider the matter resolved absolutely. If either party wishes to re-apply for adjudication in following games or seasons, they must once more fulfill all conditions laid forth in Section A of The Code. Any disputes deemed unresolvable by The Code are granted full permission to attempt resolution via the official ACHL rulebook. Furthermore, it is expected of all adherents to The Code to assess if their grievance is even eligible for resolution at all based on the following guidelines:

  • Are you just being a dick?
  • Do you have any business playing hockey with skilled players?
  • Can you solve your daddy-issues off the ice please, preferably with a therapist?
  • Why do you want hurting another person to be integral to this game?
  • Are you more help to your team on the ice or serving a penalty/suspension?
  • Must hockey be the only contact sport in the world that sanctions fighting?
  • Can’t you just grow up, already?

Well, there you go, true believers! That’s The Code as best as the finest minds in this country can parse it. I don’t know, maybe something gets lost in translation. It all makes a kind of sense but, like any relic dug up from the past, it’s a little musty and fragile and not much good to anyone but a museum.


Season opener Oct. 1! Let’s hope all our Jets just make it through the next week to enjoy it.