The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, started tucking his jersey in on the right side when he was just six years old. The prodigy was playing up, as he did throughout his amateur career, on a team of 10-year olds, in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. The Atom jersey was too large for him, so he tucked part of it into his hockey pants. By doing the jersey tuck, the oversized sweater was no longer a nuisance and he rather liked it that way. The tuck soon became a part of who Wayne Gretzky was and he continued his right-hand jersey tuck all the way through his NHL hockey career.

Without complaint.

However…

After the Washington Capital‘s captain, forward (and Russian) Alexander Ovechkin went through the 2011 playoffs with his jersey fully tucked in the back of his pants, discussions on radio talk shows and in Internet chat rooms flared up as to whether that style was against the rules of hockey, specifically Rule 9.5.

Everybody had an opinion about it and whether it should be a reason to penalize. Perhaps one of the reasons why Ovechkin’s jersey tuck was so controversial was because the Russian’s #8 jersey was continually near the top on the jersey best seller list. And, perhaps stinging even harder than Ovi’s jersey ranking was the fact that kids everywhere were adopting the Ovechkin look. At free skates, practices, in arenas, outdoor rinks and on ponds and even in games, there they’d be,  with the back of their jersey tucked into their pants.

Nip that Tuck

At the start of the 2012-2013 season, Ovechkin’s jersey tuck was outlawed with the NHL deciding to nip that tuck once and for all. Rule 9.5 states that “the back uniform number must not be covered or obstructed in any fashion by protruding pads or other protective padding.” Irregardless of whether the jersey tuck was intentional, as fa ashion or comfort statement, it quickly became a faux pas, meriting a warning and then a 2:00 minor for players who didn’t remove their jersey from their pants. Ovechkin responded to the rule enforcement, saying it was “stupid”.

Incredibly, it was another Russian and former team mate of Ovechkin’s who was the first to sit in the box for infringing the jersey tuck rule. Alexander Semin, playing with the Carolina Hurricanes, was given two minutes in the box in a September, 2013 pre-season game after his jersey continually moved up as he skated, tucking itself into his pants. To avoid this from happening again in the game, Semin showed up in the 3rd period of the game with evidence that his jersey had been sewn to his hockey pants to avoid any future infractions.

I recently wrote about a Pee-Wee “B” player who’s jersey is often tucked in at the back: Read more about Michael Siket in “Captain, Our Captain” here

Some Other Jersey No-No’s:

In the NHL:

  • Goalies are not allowed to wear any jersey that extends further down than the top of the space between their legs;
  • No short sleeves: sleeves must be long enough to tuck into the player’s gloves;
  • Numbers can be single or double digit only: no triple digits, like 101, no percentages, like 99% and no decimals, like 4.5, allowed.

One Last Thing…

Are you a hockey player who feels you’re not getting the goals and assists you think you should be given? Check to see if your jersey isn’t tucked into your pants. If it is, take it out. You might find you’re finally getting the points allocated to you that you deserve because officials see the whole name — and number — better with a jersey that hangs as it’s meant to be.