NHL Rules

Image for NHL Rules

Love them or hate them

Over the last two decades we’ve seen many rule changes come in the NHL. Many which were big and made a clear impact on the game and others that were so minor we never stop to think about them. The thing about these rule changes that comes up all to often is that they can and do, change the outcome of a game more times than we’d like which takes away from the game. Let’s just take a look at some of these rules.

Two Line Pass

(Implemented 2004-2005)

Picture courtesy of

For those of you who are too young to remember or simply can’t remember that far back the NHL describes it as such. “Two line pass was when there was a required stoppage in play because a pass originating from inside a team’s defending zone was completed on the offensive side of the center line, unless the puck crossed the line before the player”. Without this rule change we wouldn’t see many of the amazing breakaway goals that we catch every night in the highlight reels.

The Trapezoid Rule

(Implemented 2004-2005)

RALEIGH, NC – MARCH 01: Carolina Hurricanes Goalie Curtis McElhinney (35) plays the puck from the trapezoid during a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on March 1, 2019. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Trapezoid, a dead zone behind the goal line in the corners where goalies are no longer allowed to play the puck. For goalies like Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek, this part of their game was one of the many aspects that made them stand out. This rule was created to stop goalies from leaving their crease and stop dump-ins in the corners. Has also helped in stopping goalies being run into by players chasing the puck into the corners.


(Implemented 2004-2005)

LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 12: Brock McGinn #23 of the Carolina Hurricanes gets a goal against Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights during a shootout in their game at T-Mobile Arena on December 12, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Hurricanes won 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After 60 minutes of 3, 20 minute periods and a 5 minute of 3 vs 3 if the score for both teams is still even, both teams will table 3 players to attempt a shootout goal. Granted watching shootouts is fun, we’ve seen so much creativity come from this rule change but we’ve also seen many controversies. A lot of fans have expressed their displeasure as the extra point for the win is decided by a few individuals instead of team play. Coaches choose which three players on their team shoots. Home team chooses which team shoots first. Many fans thinks this is an unfair way to determine the fate of the game.

Video Review

(Implemented 1991-1992)

NEWARK, NJ – NOVEMBER 08: Referees Evgeny Romasky #39 and Dan O’Halloran #13 discuss a video replay of a goal in an NHL hockey game between the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 8, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Originally the video review process came in to assist referees mainly in a goal/no goal review process in 1991-1992. Video review has been brought in for many more situations such as offside review, goalie interference, high sticking tips that lead to goals among many others. Now, if your team is the team on the right side of a video review, the team and it’s fans are typically happy. When the reviews go against your team, often fans/ coaches are quick to point out how the calls could have gone either way. Many times the offside calls are so close that they cannot make a conclusive call without slow motion reviews. Situations like these not only slow down the game, they take a lot of the buzz and fun right out of the game.

Hybrid Icing

(Implemented 2013-2014)

RALEIGH, NC – APRIL 02: Joni Pitkanen #25 of the Carolina Hurricanes is tended to after crashing into the boards, causing a lower body injury, while trying to beat an icing call during an NHL game against the Washington Capitals at PNC Arena on April 2, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Some people aren’t a fan of the hybrid icing rule, it’s just another part of referee’s job that he could get wrong. We see it time and time again where referees blow the whistle on a questionable icing calls which stops game play and slows down the game. On the other side of the coin, the hybrid icing call was created to eliminate injuries caused by major player collisions when racing for the puck. Although there hasn’t been many injuries related to this, some of the injuries that have occurred have been pretty serious. Pat Peake broke his right calcareous bone in 14 places while trying to beat out an icing call. He only played in 5 more NHL games after recovering from his injury before having to retire.

Love them or hate them the NHL have their rules. Some requested by the NHLPA, some by the NHL itself. We all love to watch a fast paced, high flying, hard hitting game, it’s what we grew up with. We also have to understand that these rules were created for one of two reasons too bring fairness to the game but most importantly, to keep these athletes we love to watch on a nightly basis safe. Sure they get paid millions of dollars to play the game they love but there’s more to life than being a committed athlete for sheer entertainment of the people. You can find all rule changes the NHL has implemented since 1910 at

Joseph St-Amour <> 10:09 AM (29 minutes ago)

Share this article