Floating Between the Lines

When you have more than ten players for adult ice hockey, sometimes the eleventh guy has to take turns floating through the lines. This can be on the confusing side but I’ve seen it work really well. Usually it is a forward because most guys want to get out there on forward and score goals. So, the defensemen are not affected by the floater system and of course not the goalie. (That would be interesting, however.)

The floater typically takes the place of the right winger, then center and then finally the left wing. Then, the floater sits a shift, although some floaters forget they too need to sit a shift. That can cause issues and confusion if that step is left out. In fact, it’s not fair to the rest of the line as they each sit out one shift every four shits as the floater takes a shift in their position on the ice.

When this works, it is like clockwork. But when it does not work, the floater or a line mate can start complaining. I’ve even seen guys shouting at each other about not getting the right amount of playing time. One time, I saw a guy leave after getting frustrated. (That solved the problem for that game, but look out next game.)

If it is working right, every period the floater changes the line he will be rotating through. I’ve seen some lines more resistant to the floater method of solving the extra forward issue. Usually, the guys on the second period line getting a floater are good with it; this is because they only have to deal with a floater for one period.