Handshake Lines: Gloves On or Off?


By Larry Morgenthal

Our survey results are in. The rules have definitely changed for the post-game handshake. Scroll down and see.

(This article was previously published and contains updated information)

The coronavirus has changed pretty much every aspect of the way we live, and hockey is certainly no exception. In pre-pandemic life, it was common for the germophobes among us to be derided for refusing to shake hands with your opponents after the game.

In the NHL, the handshake line came to be one of the game’s greatest traditions. It made it unique from other professional sports. At the conclusion of each playoff series, the players didn’t queue up in the handshake lines with their gloves on.

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Especially in beer league hockey, shaking hands with members of the opposing team after the game was always the right thing to do—win or lose. Most of us get to be good friends with a lot of the guys we play against. You leave the game on the ice and you shouldn’t take it with you. Historically, it always had been assumed a “real” handshake was respectful. But in today’s world, a handshake runs the real risk of contracting or spreading a virus. Now that this latest pandemic has increased our awareness, this tradition is up in the air.

With the new normal facing our lives, we asked our readers what they think they will now do after the game. Should you continue to shake hands? Do you fist bump with your gloves off? Or do you keep your gloves on? The results are below.

Here are the survey results:

pre-pandemic survey results
post-pandemic survey results

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  1. I’m a goalie, so I keep my gloves on. In my area, people mostly give each other fist-bumps with gloves on, so I will hit my trapper to everyone else’s gloves.

    Note: Before anyone else asks, I am full right.

  2. 20% of people who responded to this survey post covid are ignorant to science. Like ties, hand shakes are going to die a slow death everywhere…. if you want to show respect… think of something respectful to say and respect your fellow competitors health.

  3. Sanitize your hand before you start playing. Put it in your glove and play. If anything can withstand the smell inside those gloves, then it would have wiped out the world long before Covid-19. I’ve seen hockey players not wash their socks, jersey, breezers, etc. all season. The handshake at the end of the game is what reminds everyone, this was just a game.

  4. You may know neoprene as the water-resistant lining in your winter gloves or jacket, but there’s a much better use of neoprene. Fully neoprene gloves (the ones that are clearly labeled as being safe for this) are resistant against chemicals and abrasions.

  5. Ok so wait. People don’t take their gloves off because they’re afraid of germs??? You are playing hockey. I’ve been in some moldy nasty locker rooms and I’ve smelled some horrific equipment (my own included). Both situations prob have more germs than a biology lab – and people are worried about a handshake?!! ?

    I take mine off. We generally all go down the line and it’s more of a hand slap than an actual shake – and I’ve yet to hear of someone who got an infection as a result. After years of the nasty locker rooms and equip we’ve prob all built up some serious immunity.

  6. One of the great traditions that separates our sport from others. Gloves off and some positive words for your opponent. Don’t pull a Lucic!

    • Last week I watched an entire junior team walk off the ice without shaking. The next day, they won. They shook hands. So either, they only shake at the end of the series or when they win.
      Allowing this to happen at all is what leads to breakdowns in discipline and respect. After 25 years of working with high school, junior and collegiate men’s teams, you can watch it happen. The coach who wants to be “cool” and sets no guidelines places an extra burden on the team to have to produce that discipline themselves while the team having to decide whose ideas are the best often creates divisiveness on the team. I watched a coach “cool” himself out of a job over several years.
      You can expect—but don’t count on—20 young men to do the right thing when they’re supposed to.
      So yes, this discussion is important and YOU are supposed to make that clear for them.

  7. shake hands with gloves off! Respect the game. I send my captains and assistants to the opposing bench before every game to shake hands with the opposing coaches. There have been times when I thought handshakes should have been done before the game. It’s usually with the 16-19 year olds. That age group is still discovering respect. Unfortunately it is getting worse with that age group.

    • I was opposed to the pre-game handshake when it started years ago, as I saw very little value in it. As coaches, we teach respect, for rules and opponents, and the words become very hollow if this all goes away with the drop of the puck.
      I was pleased to see the return of the post-game salute to sportsmanship, despite being with the Minor-Midget (15) and Midget (16 & 17) age groups the last 5 years. While it is not easy to ensure compliance, I believe it is a reasonable expectation. I also believe that this is not something the players are still discovering, but rather something they have been allowed to forget and only the minority need to be reminded of this. The game is bigger than anyone, and as we are tasked to lead and teach, we set an expectation of sportsmanship and appropriate behaviour, and hold our players accountable to this. Our entire staff, without exception, join in the post-game handshake with the other Staff and all players involved in the game, as well as acknowledge the on-ice officials.
      There are of course rules and penalties pertaining to post-game incidents, and from Day 1, we have been clear that not only our players but also our coaching staff face team penalties in addition to any suspensions imposed by the league for behavioural issues.
      We are pleased that, to date, we have had no issues.

  8. I love the game of hockey. It more than anything, shaped my entire life. Shaking hands is something that you learn about early in hockey. It is done out of absolute respect for the opponent. We should not let ‘germs’ interfere with proper etiquette. Without interfering side-effects from modern medicine (sorry about your luck, Sydney) hockey players are among the healthiest of all athletes. I advocate offering a handshake that expresses your heart and you, well. And if someone would dare try to injure someone during a handshake? That is what the other hand is for…

  9. Handshake is hands down, hockey players are the most polite out of all the sports. Most guys know each other and after the battle they can show respect.

    • I agree Chris. But I agree because I play co-ed D- league and I smell some of these guys’ equipment out on the ice. I don’t need their staph infections when I take a good amount of time sanitizing my own equipment. A fist bump is just as respectful in my eyes. Guess I’m the germophobe they’re talking about!!

  10. I always take off my right hand glove to shake hands. After all, I figure no germs could survive from the stench after 3 (or more) periods so I wouldn’t be spreading any disease, especially the mumps…

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