Why Do Players Get Kicked Out of Faceoffs?

Players get kicked out of faceoffs in hockey because they tried to get an unfair advantage by breaking the rules. Faceoff wins are very important in hockey, which is why players still try to gain the upper hand, even with the risk of being kicked out.

While they aren’t talked about a ton, faceoffs are an incredibly important part of hockey. However, while watching a game in the NHL, you have likely seen a situation where the ref kicks a player out of the faceoff circle and they are replaced by a teammate.

But why does this happen? What causes the ref to kick the player out? Keep reading to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Players normally get kicked out of faceoffs for trying to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents by breaking some kind of rule.
  • A player being kicked out of a faceoff can put a team at a significant disadvantage, as someone who is not as good or as experienced with faceoffs will have to take it instead. 
  • Despite the threat of being kicked out, many players still try to “cheat” in a faceoff because of how important faceoffs are in the game. In sports, possession is everything, and winning more faceoffs equals more puck possession for your team.

Reasons Why Players Get Kicked Out of Faceoffs

The reason why players are kicked out of faceoffs is that they tried to get an unfair advantage by breaking the rules in one way or another. These are normally called faceoff violations.

Players can be kicked out for moving their stick before the puck is dropped, not placing their body square to the faceoff circle, their skates being in the wrong place, and more.

In addition to the center themselves doing something to get kicked out, the actions of a teammate can often get the center kicked out. An example of this is if another player encroaches into the faceoff circle before the puck is dropped.

While all players can technically take a faceoff, there are several players on most teams that are better at winning them. If one of these players gets kicked out, it puts the team at a significant disadvantage as someone who may not be as experienced with faceoffs will need to take it.

As a result, teams need to be careful when taking faceoffs to ensure their player that has the best chance of winning can actually take the faceoff, and not get kicked out.

Why is “Cheating” in Faceoffs so Common?

If a player can get kicked out of the faceoff circle, why is “cheating” on faceoffs so common? Well, it has to do with how important faceoffs are to the game. In sports like hockey, possessing the puck is everything.

The more your team holds the puck, the more chances you have to score and prevent the other team from scoring. While higher possession doesn’t always equal wins, if you have the puck more than your opponent, the results are generally favorable.

As a result, teams want to do everything they can to win every faceoff, and this often includes bending the rules a little to increase their chances of finding success.

So even though there is the risk of the ref catching the violation, the reward of “cheating” in the faceoff circle is worth the risk in the eyes of many players and teams.

There are also some times or situations where teams will be more aggressive with their cheating in the faceoff. For example, if you have two very good faceoff takers on the same line, you can afford to cheat a little more.

Also, if a game is almost over and a team needs a faceoff win to score a goal or close out a win, they will often be a little more desperate and willing to cheat.


Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about faceoffs in hockey, along with their answers.

Which players are the best at faceoffs in the NHL?

The NHL is full of amazing faceoff takers that includes Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, and Bo Horvat.

Each of them took well over 1,500 faceoffs in the 2022-23 NHL season, and won well over 50% of them. The best is arguably Patrice Bergeron, as he took the second-most faceoffs in the league at 1,706, and won 61.1% of them.

What is the point of faceoffs in hockey?

While many other sports involve an automatic change of possession, hockey uses face offs as a fair and even way to determine which team will start with possession after a stoppage of play.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide has been able to highlight not only why players get kicked out of faceoffs, but the overall importance of faceoffs and the role they play in hockey. Teams want to do all they can to gain the upper hand in faceoffs, and this often means risking getting kicked out.

Do you think it’s worth it to “cheat” in faceoffs, or do you think playing it safe is the better call? Let me know what you think in the comment below.

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey. Email: kale@hockeyhow.com

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