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Getting to Know the Rulebook: Pilot - Dimensions

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Does size really matter?

--"It's in the rulebook." --"Nobody ever reads the rulebook!"
--"It's in the rulebook." --"Nobody ever reads the rulebook!"
Christopher Pasatieri

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Welcome a new WIIM series where the authors read big, boring NHL documents so you don't have to. Off the heels of the (still ongoing) Getting to Know the CBA, this is Getting to Know the Rulebook. For those newer to hockey, we hope these can be enlightening; for those more familiar, we hope to clarify some issues, point out peculiarities, and refresh some memories. Today's post covers the playing surface and rinks, those beautiful sheets of ice we all know and love.

NHL 2013-14 Official Rules here. (Downloads as PDF.)


I just want to point out that the cover is actually really fantastic. If the NHL is looking to standardize their cover materials, this version of the NHL Shield should be the official book cover of all NHL documents.

Linesmen and Referees

Page iii is a list of all NHL linesmen and referees for the season. So if you thought No. 27 screwed the Red Wings over in their last game, you now know that he's Eric Furlatt. I find it peculiar that NHL linesmen have only one guy in the minor leagues while the referees have a host of people in the minors on the NHL officiating team. You can also see from the lists that referees have numbers 2-49 while linesmen have numbers 50 and up.

Rink Dimensions and Details

The next page is a picture of the rink dimensions, goal crease details, faceoff configurations, and goal frame configurations. The important numbers:

  • The full rink is 200' x 85'. It's 11' from end boards to goal line plus 64' from goal line to the end of the blue line for 75'. Times 2 for each side of the rink is 150'. Plus 50' of neutral zone equals 200' length-wise.
  • The center red line and the blue lines are each 1' thick. Considering the blue line can be a part of either the neutral zone or the offensive zone depending on where the puck is, the one-foot thickness comes into play every single game. Just ask Matt Duchene.
  • The goal frame is 4' tall and 6' wide from post to post on the inside; it's also 40" deep along the ice, 18" deep along the top of the frame.

Section 1 - Playing Area: Rule 1: Rink

1.1 Rink: All NHL arenas must abide by the standardized ice surface layouts prescribed in the rulebook. This isn't baseball where different ballparks can have their own sizing quirks for the field (except the diamond). Further, if any team wants to paint something else on the ice, it can't obscure any important ice markings like the goal line or blue line. Imagine if opponents had to make a puck cross a Red Wing logo instead of the red goal line at Joe Louis Arena. Finally, there is a provision in the rulebook that allows for teams to decide that they'd rather not have the zambonis re-surface the rink (emphasis mine):

In the interval between periods, the ice surface shall be flooded unless mutually agreed to the contrary.

--NHL Official Rules 2013-14 Section 1.1

1.2 Dimensions: Already covered largely by diagrams. The only new detail is that the rounded corners of the rink are arcs of a circle with radius 28'.

1.3 Boards and Glass: The boards can be between 3 1/3' and 4' high. If you were ever worried about the Nashville piss-yellow rink making an appearance in an NHL game, fear not: both the boards and the ice rink need to be completely white, except for the markings used in the game (blue lines, etc.) and the kick plate at the bottom of the boards, which is yellow. There is a provision where teams can ask for authorization from the NHL to use something different, but I'm sure the NHL wouldn't be dumb enough to approve Nashville using the yellow rink in a game.

The glass on top of the boards and the ends of the rink is 8' from the bottom of the glass to the top, and no less than 5' for the glass along the sides. So the total height from ice level to the top of the glass is about 11'-12' at the end boards, 8'-9' along the sides. All mechanisms holding this setup together need to be on the side "away from the playing surface."

1.4 Spectator Netting: After a tragic incident in Columbus where a fan died after getting hit by a stray puck, the NHL mandated protective netting above the glass at the ends of the rink. Having only gone to NHL games when this netting was in place, I can say as someone with pretty poor vision that the netting actually doesn't really affect my sightlines and ability to see the play and follow the puck.

1.5 Lines: Some of this was already covered in the prior rink dimensions. New information: The goal line and the other thin red lines on the ice are 2" thick; the goal lines, blue lines, and center red line are mentioned to exist and must extend along the width of the ice surface including vertically up the boards; and the paint codes for the blue lines (PMS 286) and center line (PMS 186) are given.

1.6 Division of Ice Surface: This section basically defines terms to be used later. From one team's perspective, the zone where their net is is the "Defending zone"; the area between the blue lines is the "Neutral zone"; and the area with the other team's net is the "Attacking zone."

So now you know most of the necessary components to construct your very own regulation NHL rink. We'll end it here and finish up the section on the Playing Area next time, where we tackle the creases, the trapezoid, faceoff spots, and ice cleaning.