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National Hockey League (NHL) Major Rule Changes

National Hockey League (NHL) Major Rule Changes

National Hockey League (NHL) pages on Rauzulu's Street:

National Hockey League (NHL) Information
National Hockey League (NHL) Directory
National Hockey League Team Information
National Hockey League (NHL) Awards
National Hockey League (NHL) Records
National Hockey League (NHL) Champions
National Hockey League (NHL) All Star Game and Events
National Hockey League (NHL) History of League

Be sure to also check out the NHL Expansion History.

1910-11 - Game changed from two 30-minute periods to three 20-minute periods.

1911-12 - National Hockey Association (forerunner of the NHL) originated six-man hockey, replacing seven- man game.

1917-18 - Goalies permitted to fall to the ice to make saves. Previously a goaltender was penalized for dropping to the ice.

1918-19 - Penalty rules amended. For minor fouls, substitutes not allowed  until penalized player had sewed three minutes. For major fouls, no substitutes  for five minutes. For match fouls, no substitutes allowed for the remainder of  the game. With the addition of two lines painted on the ice twenty feet from center, three playing zones were created, producing a forty-foot neutral center ice area in which forward passing was permitted. Kicking the puck was permitted in this  neutral zone. Tabulation of assists began.

1921-22 - Goaltenders allowed to pass the puck forward up to their own blue  line. Overtime limited to twenty minutes. Minor penalties changed from three minutes to two minutes.

1923-24 - Match foul defined as anions deliberately injuring or disabling an opponent. For such anions, a player was fined not less than $50 and ruled off  the ice for the balance of the game. A player assessed a match penalty may be  replaced by a substitute at the end of 20 minutes. Match penalty recipients must meet with the League president who can assess additional punishment.

1925-26 - Delayed penalty rules introduced. Each team must have a minimum of four players on the ice at all times. Two rules were amended to encourage offense: No more than two defensemen permitted to remain inside a team's own blue line when the puck has led the  defensive zone. A faceoff to be called for ragging the puck unless short-handed. Team captains only players allowed to talk to referees Goaltender's leg pads limited to l 2-inch width. Timekeeper's gong to mark end of periods rather than referee's whistle. Teams  to dress a maximum of 12 players for each game from a roster of no more than 14 players.

1926-27 - Blue lines repositioned to sixty feet from each goal-line, thereby enlarging the neutral zone and standardizing distance from blueline to goal. Uniform goal nets adopted throughout NHL with goal posts securely fastened to  the ice.

1927-28 - To further encourage offense, forward passes allowed in defending  and neutral zones and goaltenders pads reduced In width from 12 to 10 inches Game standardized at three twenty-minute periods of stop-time separated by ten-minute intermissions. Teams to change ends at the each period. Ten minutes of sudden-death overtime to be played if the score is tied after regulation time. Minor penalty to be assessed to any player other than a goaltender for deliberately picking up the puck while it is In play. Minor penalty to be assessed for deliberately shooting the puck out of play.

The Art Ross goal net adopted as the official net of the Maximum length of hockey sticks limited to 53 inches measured from heel of blade to end of handle.  No minimum length stipulated. Home teams given choice of goals to defend at start of game.

1928-29 - forward passing permitted in defensive and neutral zones and into  attacking zone if pass receiver is in neutral zone when pass is made. No forward passing allowed inside attacking zone.

Minor penalty to be assessed to any player who delays the game by passing the  puck back into his defensive zone. Ten-minute overtime without sudden-death provision to be played in games tied  after regulation time. Games tied after this overtime period declared a draw. Exclusive of goaltenders, team to dress at least 8 and no more than 12 skaters.

1929-30 - Forward passing permitted inside all three zones but not permitted across either blue line. Kicking the puck allowed, but a goal cannot be scorer by kicking the puck in the goal.

No more than three players including the goaltender may remain in their  defensive zone when the puck has gone up ice. Minor penalties to be assessed for the first two violations of this rule in a game; major penalties thereafter.

Goaltenders forbidden to hold the puck. Pucks caught must be cleared immediately. For infringement of this rule, a faceoff to be taken ten feet in front of the goal with no player except the goaltender standing between the  faceoff spot and the goal-line. Highsticking penalties Introduced Maximum number of players in uniform increased from 12 to 15.

December 21,1929 - Forward passing rules instituted at the beginning of the  1929-30 season more than doubled number of goals scored. Partway through the season, these rules were further amended to read, "No attacking player allowed to precede the play when entering the opposing defensive zone." This is similar to modern offside rule.

1930-31 - A player without a complete stick ruled out of play and forbidden  from taking part in further action until a new stick is obtained. A player who  has broken hi suck must obtain a replacement at his bench.

A further refinement of the offside rule stated that the puck must first be  propelled into the attacking zone before any player of the attacking side can  enter that zone; for infringement of this rule a faceoff to take place at the spot  where the infraction took place.

1931-32 - Though there is no record of a team attempting to play with two  goaltenders on the ice, a rule was instituted which stated that each team was  allowed only one goaltender on the ice at one time.

Attacking players forbidden to impede the movement or obstruct the vision of opposing goaltenders. Defending players with the exception of the goaltender forbidden from falling  on the puck within 10 feet of the net.

1932-33 - Each team to have captain on the ice at all times. If the goaltender is removed from the ice to serve a penalty, the manager of the club to appoint a substitute. Match penalty with substitution after five minutes instituted for kicking  another player.

1933-34 - Number of players permitted to stand in defensive zone restricted  to three including goaltender. Visible time clocks required in each rink. Two referees replace one referee and one linesman.

1934-35 - Penalty shot awarded when a player is tripped and thus prevented from having a clear shot on goal, having no player to pass to other than the  offending player. Shot taken from inside a 1 0-foot circle located 38 feet from  the goal. The goaltender must not advance more than one foot from his goal- line when the shot is taken.

1937-38 - Rules introduced governing icing the puck. Penalty shot awarded when a player other than a goaltender falls on the puck within 10 feet of the goal.

1938-39 - Penalty shot modified to allow puck carrier to skate in before shooting. One referee and one linesman replace two referee system. Blue line widened to 12 inches. Maximum number of players in uniform increased from 14 to 15.

1939-40 - A substitute replacing a goaltender removed from ice to serve a  penalty may use a goaltender's stick and gloves but no other goaltending equipment

1940-41 - Flooding ice surface between periods made obligatory.

1941-42 - Penalty shots classified as minor and major Minor shot to be taken from a line 28 feet from the goal. Major shot, awarded when a player is tripped with only the goaltender to beat, permits the player taking the penalty shot to  skate right into the goalkeeper and shoot from point-blank range One referee and two linesmen employed to officiate games. For playoffs, standby minor league goaltenders employed by NHL as emergency  substitutes

1942-43 - Because of wartime restrictions on train scheduling, regular-season  overtime was discontinued on November her 21, 1942. Player limit reduced from 15 to 14 Minimum of 12 men In uniform abolished.

1943-44 - Red line at center ice introduced to speed u the game and reduce offside calls. This rule is considered to mark the beginning of the modern era in the NHL. Delayed penalty rules introduced.

1945-46 - Goal indicator lights synchronized with official time clock  required at all rinks.

1946-47 - System of signals by officials to indicate infractions introduced. Linesmen from neutral cities employed for all games.

1947-48 - Goal awarded when a player with the puck has an open net to shoot  at and a thrown stick prevents the shot on goal. Major penalty to any player who  throws his stick in any zone other than defending zone. If a stick is thrown by a player in his defending zone but the thrown stick is not considered to have  prevented a goal, a penalty shot is awarded.

All playoff games played until a winner determined, with 20-minute sudden-death overtime periods separated by 10-minute intermissions.

1949-50 - Ice surface painted white. Clubs allowed to dress 17 players exclusive of goaltenders. Major penalties incurred by goaltenders served by a member of the goaltenders  team instead of resulting in a penalty shot.

1950-51 - Each team required to provide an emergency goaltender in attendance  with full equipment at each game for use by either team in the event of illness or injury to a regular goaltender.

1951-52 - Home teams to wear basic white uniforms; visiting teams basic  colored uniforms. Goal crease enlarged from 3 x 7 feet to 4 x 8 feet. Number of players in uniform reduced to 15 plus goaltenders. Faceoff circles enlarged from 1 0-foot to 15-foot radius.

1952-53 - Teams permitted to dress 15 skaters on the road and 16 at home.

1953-54 - Number of players in uniform set at 16 plus goaltenders.

1954-55 - Number of players in uniform set at 18 plus goaltenders up to  December 1 and 16 plus goaltenders thereafter.

1956-57 - Player serving a minor penalty allowed to return to Ice when a goal  is scored by opposing team.

1959-60 - Players prevented from leaving their benches to enter into an  altercation. Substitutions permitted providing substitutes do not enter into  altercation.

1960-61 - Number of players in uniform set at 16 plus goaltenders.

1961-62 - Penalty shots to be taken by the player against whom the foul was committed. In  the event of a penalty shot called in a situation where a particular player  hasn't been fouled, the penalty shot to be taken by any player on the ice when the foul was committed.

1964-65 - No bodily contact on faceoffs. In playoff games, each team to have its substitute goaltender dressed in his regular uniform except for leg pads and body protector. An previous rules  governing standby goaltenders terminated.

1965- 66 - Teams required to dress two goaltenders for each regular-season game.

1966-67 - Substitution allowed on  coincidental major penalties.

Between-periods intermissions fixed at 15 minutes.

1967-68 - If a penalty  incurred by a goaltender is a co-incident major, the penalty to be sensed by a player of the goaltender's team on the ice at the time the penalty was called. Limit of curvature of hockey stick blade set at 1-1/2 inches.

1969-70 - Limit of curvature of hockey stick blade set at 1 inch.

1970-71 - Home teams to wear basic white uniforms visiting teams basic colored uniforms. Limit of curvature of hockey stick blade set at '/2 inch. Minor penalty for deliberately shooting the puck out of the playing area. 

1971-72 - Number of players in uniform set at 17 plus 2 Goaltenders. Third man to enter an altercation assessed an automatic game misconduct  penalty

1972-73 - Minimum width of stick blade reduced to 2 inches from 2-'/2 inches.

1974-75 - Bench minor Penalty imposed if a penalized player does not proceed directly and immediately to the penalty box.

1976-77 - Rule dealing with fighting amended to provide a major and -tame  misconduct penalty for any player who is clearly the instigator of a fight.

1977-78 - Teams requesting a stick measurement to be assessed a minor penalty  in the event that the measured stick does not violate the rules.

1981-82 - If both of a team's listed goaltenders are incapacitated, the team can dress and play any eligible goaltender who is available.

1982-83 - Number of players in uniform set at 18 plus 2 goaltenders.

1983-84 - Five-minute sudden-death overtime to be played In regular-season games that are tied at the end of regulation time.

1985-86 - Substitutions allowed in the event of co-incidental minor  penalties.

1986-87 - Delayed off-side is no longer in effect once the players of the  offending team have cleared the opponents' defensive zone.

1991-92 - Video replays employed to assist referees in goal/no goal  situations. Size of goal crease increased. Crease changed to semi-circular configuration. Time clock to record tenths of a second in last minute of each period and overtime. Major and -tame misconduct penalty for checking from behind  into boards. Penalties added for crease infrinement and unnecessary contact with goaltender. Goal disallowed if puck enters net while a player of the attacking team is standing on the goal crease line, is in the goal crease or  places his stick In the goal crease.

1992-93 - No substitutions allowed in the event of coincidental minor  penalties called when both teams are at full strength. Wearing of helmets made  optional for forwards and defensemen. Minor penalty for attempting to draw a penalty ("diving"). Major and game misconduct penalty for checking from behind into coal frame. Game misconduct penalty for instigating a fight. H'ghsticking redefined to include any use of the stick above waist-height. Previous rule stipulated shoulder-height

1993-94 - High sticking redefined to allow goals scored with a high stick  below the height of the crossbar of the goal frame.

1996-97 - Maximum stick length increased to 63 inches.

1998-98 - The league instituted a two-referee system with each team to play  20 regular-season games with two referees and a pair of linesmen. Also, the goal  lines, blue lines, defensive zone face-off circles and markings all moved two feet closer to center, creating 13 feet of room behind the nets and cutting the neutral zone from 58 to 54 feet. The goal crease was altered so that it extends only one foot beyond each goal post. (eight feet across in total) and has square sides for the first 4'6". Only the top of the crease remains  rounded.

1999-2000 - Each team to play 25 home and 25 road games using the two  referee system. Crease rule revised to implement a "no harm, no foul, no video review" standard. An attacking players position, whether inside or outside the crease, does not in inself, determine whether a goal; should be allowed or  disallowed. The on-ice judgment of the referee(s) - instead of video review - will determine whether a goal is good or not. Also regular season games tied at the end of three periods, will result in each team being awarded one point in the standings. As before there will be a five minute sudden death overtime when  the score is tied after three periods, but each team will play "four on four", with four skaters and a goaltender. In the vent that penalties dictate that one team has a two man advantage, the penalized team plays with three skaters, while  the team with the two man advantage adds a fifth skater. A team scoring in  overtime will receive one additional point in the standings.

2000-2001 - All games to be played using the two- referee system.

2002-03 - Hurry-up face off and line change rules implemented.

2003-04 - Home teams to wear basic colored uniforms, visiting teams to wear basic white uniforms. Maximum length of goaltenders pads set at 38 inches.

2005-06 - Goal line is moved 11 feet from the end boards and blue line moved to 75 feet from end boards resulting in shortening of the neutral zone from 54 to 50 feet. Center line eliminated for 2 line passes and the tag up offside rule re-instated. Restrictions on the goaltender playing the puck outside a designated area are introduced. The team icing the puck is not allowed subsitution for the next faceoff. Starting a fight in the last 5 minutes of a game or in overtime will now cost the instigator a minor, a major, a misconduct and an automatic one game suspension penalties. A shhotoput is introduced if the game remains tied after the 5 minute overtime. Goaltenders equipment is downsized.