NHL Line Change?

How are line changes signaled in hockey? How do the players know when to come off the ice and know when and who goes on?

I am knowledgable on hockey (Go PENS) but have never really thought about this. I am assuming they are yelled from the bench.

The player on the ice will usually signal when they are ready for a change by holding up their stick. Plus, lines will usually try to come on and go off as a group, depending on the flow of play. Depending on the game time, score, opponent, and so forth players will have been told to take shorter shifts and they have a pretty good feel for how much time has passed when they are on the ice.

If you only regularly watch a game on tv you will miss most of this. Cameras follow the play and the puck, the signals for a change are usually behind the play.

How about when the coach wants a change? Do they yell out a phrase or something? I’ve seen players skate down the ice, dump the puck and make a sharp turn to the bench, but they seemed to be focused on the punk and did not seem aware that their teammates were leaving the ice. It just seems that there was more to it.

I’ve been to games, just not down on the ice or by the bench.

If you have played or watched hockey, you would know it’s the coach or assistant coaches who control the line changes depending on the team and game strategy at the time. But they don’t signal one, players know when it’s time to change.
There are actually 2 line changes which occur, forwards and defencemen.
For the forwards, at the start of a normal game, you want to roll all four lines. Shifts are divided almost evenly, usually about 30 seconds, so the players will rotate through the lines almost automatically. Playing hard then resting.
If things go well, they will stick with it. If a team gets behind, the coaches might shorten the bench by only rotating 3 lines, double shifting players, etc… but the average shift length is about the same.
Now, the art to the line changes is the matchup, getting the players you want out against certain opposing players, this is why the home team gets the last change. Coaches will usually assign lines and defence pairings to get on the ice whenever opposing line x comes on, or a coach might spontaneously call out which line he wants over the boards at the next opportunity.

Some players may be injured or tired and might signal to the bench that they need to come off the ice, others may be trapped on a delayed line change.
No one signals a line change but there are cues that cause them such as shift length, whistles, penalties, opposition line changes, etc… The players know them and change accordingly or as the coaching staff instruct them.

Questions welcome!

I don’t understand this part. I’m interpreting it to mean the visiting team has to wait to play until the home team has changed, but that doesn’t make sense.

When play has stopped, both teams get a free line change. The visitor has to put their 5 out on the ice before the home team chooses, letting the home team figure out the best matchups.


The other home ice advantage is that your bench is at your end of the ice for two periods. Players are used to the rink ,ice, boards, can hear the coaches better, etc. A bigger advantage is that lines can change quicker and easier while the puck is relatively close to their end as opposed to having to carry it deep into the other end or dump it down the ice. The new rules do not allow a line change on an icing call so might see one player rush up the ice while his teamates change “on the fly”, then he will change at the first safe opportunity.

So that explains why I don’t hear stuff coming from the bench, there isn’t much to hear.

Besides 3 or 4 times at full speed up and down the ice and you want to change. :slight_smile:

Greg Millen? Is that you?

Both teams get their bench at their end of the ice for first and third periods.

Thank you Obi Wan!
I never said they didn’t, you seem to have misunderstood, but I’ll clarify, the home team gets their own home end for two periods.

I’m not seeing where the advantage to only the home team comes from. Can someone expand on this?

Well, the Zamoni’s entrance to the ice is typically in the away team’s end. Very rarely, the puck will take a crazy bounce off of the entrance, which is almost always bad for the defending team.

But it’s so ridiculously rare I’d hardly count it as part of home-ice advantage.

It is all about the situation on the ice at the time. If there is a delayed penalty on the opposition, a defensive defenceman, would know to head to the bench for a more offensive minded player

Sorry, I forgot that I’m trying to explain to people who don’t play the game.
The advantage is that it is your rink and you play 41 regular season home games at end, plus exhibition, plus practice, plus playoffs, using that bench at that end of your home rink.
Get it now?
btw knowing the boards is definitely a home ice advantage, and is not ridiculous at all, for example, the NY Islanders have several designed plays that utilize the dimensions of their home rink.