For anyone who hasn’t heard about a slew foot penalty, it’s a sneaky play — probably even one of the worst. Hockey coaching will always show gameplay tapes on this dangerous tripping penalty.

What Is a Slew Foot?

The original term, first coined in the 1700s, described someone with a foot “slewed, or twisted out.” A slew foot is when a player comes up behind an opponent and intentionally trips them by dragging a skate so they fall backward. The penalty isn’t called often because it’s hard to spot but can be so sudden and dangerous that the victim suddenly falls backward and hits their head, landing really hard on the ice.

See an intentional slew foot in action.

Match Penalties for Slew Foot Plays

The referee can assign match penalties (rule 52.2) when a player deliberately uses this maneuver. However, there are times when this type of tripping can happen by accident, especially when one player body checks another.

Body Check or Slew Foot?

Fighting and body checks have been a long tradition in ice hockey, but when a slew foot’s played, it’s intentional. Some leagues state that a backward shove to the victim’s upper body region needs to take place to confirm the move.

Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand Slew Foot Moves

If you look at old game tapes, you might see when Sidney Crosby was accused of slew-footing. Anyone who uses a slew foot receives a severe penalty, but in some cases, fines and suspensions (rule 52.3) are incurred if the victim suffers severe injuries.

Watch what appears to be Brad Marchand slew foot NY Rangers Derick Brassard in 2015.

How the NHL Rule Book defines Slew Foot Penalties

NHL rule 52.1 states that slew footing involves an intent to injure. The reason it’s an egregious penalty is that it’s hard for officials to spot in the middle of gameplay. Think you can spot one? Watch what appears to be Alex Ovechkin slew foot Rich Peverley in 2009.

In Canada, updated rules now state in rule 7.4(B) that players will receive a double minor penalty plus a game misconduct for the foul. If injury results, players will receive a match penalty.

The rationale behind the fouls and penalties is to minimize injuries and promote game safety. All players need to understand that respect for the game and player safety go hand in hand.


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