“The action of dropping the puck between
the sticks of two opposing players to start play.”
Originally the referee would place the puck on the ice between the two
players and shout “Play!” Since it was not unusual for the ref to be hit by
a stick blade, the practice was changed to dropping the puck so the ref
would have time to jump back from flying blades.
The face-off players must stand squarely facing their opponent’s end of the
ice or goal. They are to be about a stick length apart from each other with stick blades on the ice.
In the early days of hockey the other players would crowd around the centers
as they faced off. New rule in 2004. No player can come within five feet of the
face-off players and they cannot interfere with opposing players until the
puck is in play. When the four red circles were painted on the ice, players
wanted to come inside before the puck dropped. Another new rule, again in
cannot enter the circle more than once before the puck is dropped.
The referee turned the responsibility for dropping the puck over to the
linesmen on all occasions except at the beginning of each period and after a
goal is scored. This way he can stand to the side and see that these rules
wondered why a face-off player is removed and replaced by another member of
his team? It may be because the player did not get set or is taking unfair
advantage by swiping at the puck before it is dropped.
A point of protocol – the visiting player is to put his stick blade on the
ice first or he is out of the face-off.
A good face-off player knows not to watch the ice to be ready to hit the
puck when it lands. Too much delayed reaction time. The player watches the
ref’s or linesman’s hands. When the hand moves to drop the puck, the player
moves his stick to hit it. If the player just watches the faceoff dot
he/she is going to be slower to react because he/she won’t be able to see
the puck until it hits the ice. By watching the ref’s hand the player can
anticipate the drop and have a better chance to time the draw.
At the beginning of each period or after a goal when the teams face off at
the center red line, the visiting team player is to put his stick down on
the ice first.
a ceremonial face-off, the home team player is the one to touch the puck
with his stick.
from USA Hockey, Jan. 2012