I am a huge hockey fan but I am not 100% clear on the rules..

This has to do with the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So after last night's overtime victory, goal scored by Conor Sheary.. Crosby was called a cheater by the Sharks player LOGAN COUTURE.

In Game 2, Crosby did not score but he did win 17 of 24 faceoffs, including the game's biggest that earned him a secondary assist on the winner. He is 26-for-40 in the faceoff circle through the first two games of the series.

It's an edge that irks some San Jose Sharks.

"He cheats," Couture said. "He gets away with it. He's Sidney Crosby."

How so?

"He times them and they don't kick him out for some reason, probably because of who he is," Couture complained.

This can be found here.

Again, I am not clear with the rules, but when it comes to face-offs, what is the other way to win face-offs besides trying to time when the referee drops the puck onto the ice? Or my comprehension of how Couture used the word timing is wrong.

Any explanation is appreciated.


2 Answers 2


This appears to me as Logan Couture trying to cause the officials to keep a closer look on Crosby. Make them pay more attention to Sidney Crosby and possibly get him off the face offs if he twitches just a tiny bit too fast or at least make the officials think he is moving early. If the refs start chasing him, then it can start to mentally affect Crosby.

You can't cheat per say when it comes to face off, if you do cheat, you get sent off and another player takes your spot on the face off. That is... If the referee calls the infraction.

I'm not well versed in the rules of Face Offs, but Crosby is not cheating. If there was a way to cheat this facet of the game, the Team/Player in question would probably get sanctioned by the league.

  • How would he cheat? Is Couture just saying Crosby is 'false starting' and the refs aren't calling him on it?
    – kuhl
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 23:51
  • 1
    Essentially, yes. False starting and not getting a call.
    – Yousend
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 15:16

Winning a face-off is to play the puck in the desired direction before the opponent can do so. It's a race to the touch from a stationary start.
Being first over such a short distance with such high speeds means that the first person to go will most likely win. But going early is (hopefully) penalised so just doing it every time will lead to worse outcomes later.
For the player who wants to avoid this, then, there are two choices: being reactive and being proactive. The first is self-explanatory: reacting to the instant of the drop. He who reacts faster, acts faster, and wins.
The proactive player instead tries to predict when the instant of the drop will occur, and time their action accordingly. This eliminates the time needed to react, which as we suggest, is the biggest contributor to the total time, thereby granting a great advantage to the proactive player over the reactive player - assuming the former has practised the prediction and has similar physical speed.
Now, the puck is often not just dropped, but given a bit of additional speed downward by the official. Muscle movements are typically preceded by a tightening which causes some "backswing" of the arm (leg, head, ...). Observing this backswing effect can, with practise, lead to having a reaction time of effectively zero.
Finally: is this cheating? Well, the rule says, in more words, that players can't move until the puck has dropped. But if the player has predicted well, they are only moving exactly when the puck is dropped, and therefore not breaching the rule.
What's really the problem? Crosby has a skill that gives him an obvious advantage. Some players see the use of such skills as invalid, for a number of reasons. To of have a skill is to be a worse player than the opponent, and that's not often an acceptable thought. So, he rationalises: the only way he could be better is by cheating. Regardless of whether or not that is the case!

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