For Immediate Release 

December 22, 2023 

Hockey NL to Introduce Pre-Game Handshakes

Grand Falls-Windsor – This week, the Minor Council of Hockey NL launched a trial change to the sportsmanship protocol for minor hockey games moving the game handshake from the end to the beginning of each game.

The custom of a handshake in sport is meant to provide an opportunity for players to wish their opponents good luck and, as such, there is an argument that it should occur before a game starts. In addition, including the handshake gesture at the beginning of a game reduces the potential risk from any heightened animosity that can occur between opposing players throughout the course of a game.

Minor Council of Hockey NL plans to trial the pre-game handshake in the New Year. The aim is to ensure that respect and sportsmanship is still involved between players and teams, with a view to reducing the risk for post-game altercations, which have caused a significant challenge for players, coaches, teams, parents, officials, and Minor Council. To be clear, the handshake is not being eliminated – Minor Council has simply made the decision to move when it is to be conducted. At present, coaches of both teams and on-ice officiating staff engage in a pre-game handshake. With this trial, the players will also be included in this pre-game practice.

This change in player handshake protocol was proposed by a Hockey NL official during a discipline hearing related to a post-game altercation that occurred this past fall. Their rationale was that eliminating the opportunity for an altercation at the end of game was better than penalizing after the altercation took place. They pointed to the example of soccer conducting their handshake protocol and sportsmanship gesture prior to the game as a point of reference. When the topic was discussed by Minor Council, all members viewed a trial of a pre-game handshake protocol as an opportunity to enhance sportsmanship.

Hockey NL strives to be a leader in safe and respectful sport by undertaking such initiatives as the Green Armband program to protect junior officials.  Volunteers with Hockey NL work tirelessly to drive change in a direction that is positive. As is noted above, this is a trial. The goal of the trial is to inform whether the shift in player handshake protocol will become a long-term practice and part of our programming. This is new and it is different, but it is like what is seen in other sports and in other divisions of hockey.  With the goal of instilling the values of good sportsmanship, respect, and comradery while working towards our mission of safe, fun, and inclusive hockey experiences, an evaluation of the impact of this trial change will inform us as to its benefits in the long run, which may then be applied to other divisions such as girls/women’s hockey. (e.g. Female Division).

For more information please contact:


Craig Tulk

Pronouns (He/Him)

Executive Director

Hockey NL

P.O. Box 176

32 Queensway

Grand Falls-Windsor, NL

A2A 2J4


Tel:  709-489-5512

Email:  [email protected]