Handshake Lines: Gloves On or Off?


By Larry Morgenthal


The game is over and you’re in the handshake line. As all recreational hockey players know, the right thing to do is—win or lose—line up and shake hands with the members of the opposing team. But what is the proper etiquette? Should you shake hands like a ‘true’ gentleman? Or, do you fist bump with your gloves off? Or maybe (like many germ phobes out there) you keep your gloves on?

It’s always been assumed a “real” handshake is respectful; after all, in the NHL, at the conclusion of each playoff series, they don’t queue up in the handshake lines with their gloves on. But in today’s disease-fearing society, a real handshake runs the risk of spreading some god-awful virus—not to mention getting hands crushed, fingers bent back, or worse.

Leave a comment below and tell us what you do in the handshake lines.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

  6. At the pro level and end of a series, should be true, gloves off, handshake.
    Recreational and minor hockey fist bump, gloves on is fine.

    • 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!!

  7. 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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