During the Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers game on April 16 2017, the referees called an illegal substitution on the Rangers, but strangely not too many men on ice. This happened during the second period as some players were changing shifts. How come this didn't result in a 2 minute minor? This is a reference to this incident, I wasn't able to find any other similar occurrence.

so I'm wondering what is illegal substitution and when does it happen? How does it correspond to the too many men on ice penalty?

  • I don't see illegal substitution on the play-by-play for the game on nhl.com. Do you know when in the game it happened?
    – BowlOfRed
    Apr 18, 2017 at 7:15
  • Second period. Take a look at the link I mentioned. That was the only place I could find a mention of it. I swear I'm not insane, it did happen. But how could it not be too many men?
    – alamoot
    Apr 18, 2017 at 14:17
  • I wonder if illegal substitution was initially called, but then was changed and not announced well? That would explain no penalty and not being in the play-by-play record.
    – BowlOfRed
    Apr 18, 2017 at 15:26
  • The commentators commented on it that this could happen. One of them described the reasoning, but it sounded just like too many men (at least to me)
    – alamoot
    Apr 18, 2017 at 15:38
  • Another thing that can happen is a player leaving the ice in the wrong location (not at the player bench). But it's all speculation without more information.
    – BowlOfRed
    Apr 18, 2017 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


Illegal substitution does relate to the too many men on the ice penalty and it is described in the NHL Rule book as

Rule 68.1 Starts page 93-

"An illegal substitution shall be deemed to have occurred when a player enters the game illegally from either the players bench (teammate not within the five(5) foot limit, refer to rule 74- Too Many Men on the Ice), from the penalty bench(penalty has not yet expired), when a major penalty is being served and the replacement player does not return to the ice from the penalty bench(see rule 68.2), or when a player illegally enters the game for the sole purpose of preventing an opposing player from scoring on a breakaway(see also Rules 68.3 and 68.4)"

NHL 16/17 Rulebook

  • Is there any mentions when an illegal substitution will not result in any penalties?
    – alamoot
    May 18, 2017 at 21:13
  • Yes- Rule 71.1 "Rule 71 – Premature Substitution When a goalkeeper leaves his goal area and proceeds to his players’ bench for the purpose of substituting another player, the skater cannot enter the playing surface before the goalkeeper is within five feet of the bench. If the substitution is made prematurely, the play shall stop immediately unless the non-offending team has possession of the puck -- in which event the stoppage will be delayed until the puck changes possession. "
    – Parker McA
    May 18, 2017 at 22:35
  • 1
    "There shall be no time penalty to the team making the premature substitution, but the resulting face-off will take place at the center ice face-off spot when play is stopped beyond the center red line. When play is stopped prior to the center red line, the resulting face-off shall be conducted at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where the play was stopped. In all other situations not covered in the above, a minor penalty may result for “too many men on the ice” (see Rule 74)."
    – Parker McA
    May 18, 2017 at 22:38

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