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NHL rules on face-offs

76.3 PROCEDURE

As soon as the line change procedure has been completed by the Referee and he lowers his hand to indicate no further changes, the Linesman conducting the face-off shall blow his whistle. This will signal to both teams that they have no more than five (5) seconds to line up for the ensuing face-off. At the end of the five (5) seconds (or sooner if both centers are ready), the Linesman will conduct a proper face-off. If, however:

(i) One or both centers are not positioned for the face-off,

(ii) One or both centers refrain from placing their stick on the ice,

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(iii) Any player has encroached into the face-off circle,

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(iv) Any player makes physical contact with an opponent, or

(v) Any player who lines up for the face-off in an off-side position,

the Linesman shall have the offending center(s) replaced immediately prior to dropping the puck.

76.4 PROCEDURE – CENTERS

The puck shall be faced-off by the Referee or the Linesman dropping the puck on the ice between the sticks of the players facing-off. Players facing-off will stand squarely facing their opponent’s end of the rink approximately one stick length apart with the blade of their sticks on the ice. When the face-off takes place in any of the end face-off circles, the players taking part shall take their position so that they will stand squarely facing their opponent’s end of the rink, and clear of the ice markings. The sticks of both players facing-off shall have the blade on the ice, within the designated white area. The visiting player shall place his stick within the designated white area first followed immediately by the home player.

SOURCE: NHL.com