Today's rule is sort of a culmination of the last few days' rules. 3.7.4.3 told us how long a number can be (up to 4characters). 3.7.4.4 told us what the characters may (alphanumeric, letters and numbers). 3.7.4.5 told us that a number on a jersey may have small characters preceding and/or following it (but are not considered part of the number). Today's rule explains exactly why a skater number is officially what it is. I know that phrase is a little odd so let me explain.

Over the past few days there have been more than a few people who have explained that it was their understanding that if a skater chose a number with letters in it then the letters were ignored by the officials in a game. A couple examples would be a skater with the number "H3RO" on her jersey would be called as "3", or a skater with "L1F3" on her jersey would be called as "13". The truth behind this understanding is that it is definitively FALSE. I've made that word all capitals so the point gets across. Ignoring a part of a skater's number, provided that number is legal is wrong. Very wrong. Today's rule proves it.

In today's rule two examples of numbers that are considered unique are given, "L5" and "J5". If the letter portions of skater numbers were to be ignored, then both those skater numbers would be "5" and there can't be two of the same number on a team, per today's rule and also 3.7.4. Therefore, "J5" is called "J5" and "L5" is called "L5". Similarly, "H3R0" would be called "H-3-R-0". Why not call it as "hero"? That's been another common question this week, so let me explain that one too.

There is one rule that clearly tells officials how they must refer to skaters:

9.2.5.2 Referees will:

9.2.5.2.4 Exclusively use a skater’s team color and charter number for calling penalties on that skater.

When a referee calls a penalty on a skater they must use her number. In the case of a skater with the number "H3R0" her number is "H-3-R-0" not "hero". If a ref says "hero" they are ignoring the two numerical digits in the number (or possibly just one if you consider "oh" is an accepted pronunciation for the number zero). Thus if a ref were trying to send this skater to the penalty box by calling "hero" she would not have to go there since her number is not the one being called.

It has also been asked if there is a standard way for an official to pronounce a skater's number. The answer is no. In some cases there is only one way, such as a skater with the number "K1D", which must be called "kay-one-dee" so as to call the actual number as writ. Now, cases where multiple pronunciations exist, all correct ones are acceptable. With the skater number "B00B" (you know someone's got it) an official could say "bee-oh-oh-bee", "bee-zero-zero-bee", "bee-double oh-bee" or "bee-double zero-bee" and be correct. Of course, for consistency sake, more and more refs are moving to a system of calling a number by each character. Thus, "H3R0" gets called as "aytch-three-arr-zero". This way, while in some cases not the easiest or most efficient, is undoubtedly the most accurate way to call a skater by her number.

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