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Can Goalies be Assistant Captains in Hockey?

Can goalies be assistant captains in hockey? You’re probably a new goalie or ice hockey enthusiast and wondering if goalies can take the role of assistant captains. The good news is, you’ve come to the right place because it’s the reason I’ve put together this comprehensive answer. So, read on!

Can goalies be assistant captains in hockey? The goalie position is one of the most interesting in ice hockey. A goalie serves many roles like goaltending to prevent the puck from getting into the net. Amazingly, some teams appoint their goalies to lead the team as captains—though off-ice.

However, according to the current NHL rules, goalies aren’t allowed to be captains or assistant captains. Before 1947, goalies were permitted to be captains and assistant captains. In 1948, the rules were changed because Durnam frequently left the crease to argue calls with referees. Opponent teams didn’t take this lightly, as he was accused of giving his teammates unofficial timeouts.

That’s a snippet view of what was later called the Durnam rule, prohibiting goalies from becoming captains and assistant captains in hockey. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are more reasons a hockey goalie shouldn’t take the Captain or assistant captain role and you’ll discover them in this guide. Let’s get to it!

Hockey Captains and Assistant Captains’ Roles in Hockey

Hockey Rule 6.1 states;

“One Captain shall be appointed by each team, and he alone shall have the privilege of discussing with the Referee any questions relating to the interpretation of rules which may arise during the progress of a game. He shall wear the letter “C,” approximately three inches (3″) in height and in contrasting color, in a conspicuous position on the front of his sweater. No co-Captains are permitted. Either one Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains, or no Captain and no more than three Alternate Captains are permitted.”

Hockey rules assign captains and assistant captains to represent teams on the ice. Captains and assistant captains act as the link between the hockey officials and the bench. Whenever there’s a referee’s call, they’re called to the referees’ crease for deliberations.

Afterward, they head over to the bench to relay the same information. In addition, Captain or assistant captain privileges are only valid when the players are on ice. Hockey regulations forbid them from exercising their rink duties outside the ice.

However, their roles don’t stop at representing the team while on ice. They also offer leadership and are required to serve as good examples to teammates. Both Captain and assistant captains serve the same purpose. Nonetheless, assistant captains work more in the absence of the Captain.

Why a Goalie Shouldn’t be a Captain or Assistant Captain in Ice Hockey

While a goalie can be a captain or assistant Captain (off-ice), ice duties can take a toll on them. It’s advisable that hockey goalies only defend the net and prevent opponents’ attempts to score. Below is a detailed explanation for why goalies can’t be captains or assistant captains.

1. The NHL Rule 14D and the Durnam Rule

NHL rules state, “No playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain.”

Before the rule was instituted, goalies were allowed to be captains and assistant captains. This went on until 1948 when everything changed for the worst. Hockey goalies could no longer be captains after 1948, after the NHL rule was changed.

This meant they couldn’t be assistant captains as well. In the absence of the Captain, they’d have to be in charge, which doesn’t line up with the NHL rules and regulations for the sport.

You’re probably wondering what led to the ban for hockey goalies from becoming captains and assistant captains. A Montreal goalie’s (Bill Durnan) actions changed the future for all goalies in 1948. This made him the last on-ice hockey goalie captain in the history of the NHL.

He would argue calls with referees for too long, dragging matches longer than necessary. Opponents never took this lightly. Most of them perceived it as a strategy to give their teammates unofficial timeouts.

As you’d expect, it never went well for him. This is led to what is commonly known today as the Durnam Rule, prohibiting goalies from taking any captaincy or assistant captaincy role.

2. Logistics of Multi-tasking

The goalie position is always tasking. Goalies are ever preoccupied with saving the team by thwarting opponents’ scoring efforts. So they get tired and weary fast because of what is at stake.

Add them another role of captains or assistant captains, and you drain them completely. Remember, the Captain’s and assistant captains’ main role is to represent the team on the ice.

They respond to referees’ calls to discuss issues affecting the match, like penalty decisions. They then skate to the bench to relay the message then skate back to their crease.

Overall, this is draining! It’s the reason hockey goalies are advised to stick to one role. Moreover, experts agree the goalie position is the hardest to play since it requires absolute concentration. So, it doesn’t make sense to add more work of representing the team on the ice.

When can a Goalie Take the Captain or Assistant Captain Role?

Current NHL rules prohibit goalies from becoming on-ice captains and assistant captains. However, there’s no rule stopping hockey goalies from becoming off-ice captains and assistant captains.

So, if you’re wondering if a goalie can be an assistant captain, the answer is yes. Conversely, their role is only limited to off-ice duties. While on ice, the team is represented by other captains and assistant captains.

A good example in the history of the NHL is Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. The team had Willie Mitchell represent them on ice while Roberto Luongo handled all off-ice captaincy duties.

History of NHL Goalie Captains

There have been six goalies taking the captaincy role in the history of the NHL. Below is the quick rundown!

  • John Ross Roach (Toronto St. Patricks): 1924–25 season
  • George Hainsworth (Montreal Canadiens): 1932–33 season
  • Roy Worters (New York Americans): 1932–33 season
  • Alex Connell (Ottawa Senators): 1932–33 season
  • Charlie Gardiner (Chicago Black Hawks): 1933–34 season
  • Bill Durnan (Montreal Canadiens): latter half of 1947–48 season
  • Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks): 2008-09 season

Can Goalies be Assistant Captains in Hockey? The Bottom Line

Goalies can be assistant captains in hockey. However, they can only perform the captaincy duties off-ice. This is because NHL rules prohibit goalies from taking the captaincy or assistant captaincy role on ice after the infamous Durnam rule. That’s it! I hope you found this guide helpful.

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Navick Ogutu
Navick Ogutu

Navick is a full-time freelance writer, blogger, and internet marketer. By day, he creates content for multiple sites including Over the weekend, he goes out skating with friends.

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