What’s PIM in hockey? (with stats)

Hockey players will be hockey players. And the one thing hockey players do is try to bend the rules to give their team any advantage to win. In bending those rules they often break the rules and are called for a penalty that they need to leave the game for a specified amount of time. This specified amount of time is calculated cumulatively for players over a game and a season under the abbreviation PIM. 

What does PIM in hockey stats stand for? PIM stands for Penalty Infraction Minutes, but is more commonly referred to as Penalty Minutes. PIM is the cumulative total of time that a player has spent in the penalty box due to on ice infractions and is calculated by game and by season.  

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Let’s look at penalties and the amount of time a player is assessed for them more closely.


Penalized versus non-penalized infractions


In hockey if you break the rules the referee is going to blow the whistle. However, when you break the rules, sometimes a player is penalized and some times they are not. 

For instance, non-penalized infractions include icing, offsides, and hand passes.

More serious infractions such as tripping, high-sticking, slashing, and fighting are penalized. Penalized means that you will have to go sit in the penalty box for a predetermined amount of time and your team is not allowed to substitute a player for you. The consequence is that your team will have to play shorthanded (have one less player on the ice) for the time you are in the penalty box. 

There are different types of penalties a player can get. Each of these penalties have a different amount of time set to them, which will add to the cumulative total of the PIMs for the player and team. 


Five Types of Penalties

Minor (2 minutes) – This is for the least serious type of penalty and involves penalties such as hooking, slashing, boarding, goaltender interference, delay of game, too many men on the ice. This is by far the most common type of penalty.

If a goal is scored while the player is serving a 2-minute minor penalty, the penalized player gets to leave the penalty box and return to the ice.

A player could also receive a Double Minor (4 minutes) penalty.

Major (5 Minutes) – This is for a more severe type of minor penalty. For instance, it would be for high sticking that causes another player to bleed or fighting or a dangerous type of bodycheck. 

Match (5 Minutes) – A match penalty is given when a player deliberately tries or does injury another player. As well as the 5 minute penalty the player will be kicked out for the rest of the game. Another player from his team will serve the penalty in his place. 

Misconduct (10 Minutes) – This is the longest penalty given, but unlike the other penalties the team will not be shorthanded for this team. The team will be allowed to substitute another player in his spot while the penalty is being served. For instance a 10-minute misconduct could be given for unsportsmanlike behaviour. 

Penalty Shot – A penalty shot does not have a time infraction imposed on it, instead a player allows a player to have an unimpeded breakaway on the goalie. This penalty is most often called when a player is tripped on a breakaway. 

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How many PIMs does a player get in a game or season?

Today’s NHL players take a lot less penalties than those from a few decades ago. The style of play has changed and what is considered acceptable has changed. One of the main factors is that fighting in the NHL is way down. In the 1980s there used to be fighting in most games. Now there is hardly any fighting in the NHL. This has brought down penalty minutes.

Most players in a game will get zero PIMs with about half a dozen on each side getting between 2-4 minutes. If they get over 4, usually do to a fight, that would be on the high side.

To give you an idea of how many PIMs a player would get in a season I have put together the top penalty minutes from the 2018-19 season with the top PIM seasons in the history of the NHL. 

Top PIM in 2018-2019

PlayerTeamPIM
Evander KaneSan Jose153
Tom WilsonWashington128
Antoine RousselVancouver118
Ian ColeColorado115
Brendan LemieuxNew York Rangers108
Zack KassianEdmonton102
Wayne SimmondsNew Jersey99
Brad MarchandBoston96
Kyle CliffordLos Angeles96
Sam BennettCalgary93

Top 10 All-time season leaders for PIM

PlayerYearPIM
Dave Schultz1974-75472
Paul Baxter1981-82409
Mike Peluso1991-92405
Dave Schultz1977-78405
Marty McSorley1992-93399
Bob Probert1987-88398
Basil McRae1987-88382
Joey Kocur1985-86377
Tim Hunter1988-89375
Donald Brashear1997-98372

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