What you need to know about the NHL rule changes for the 2021 season

The 13th. In January, the NHL drops the puck for the 2021 season and things will look different.

It’s not just a matter of reducing the season by 56 games and temporarily redrawing the divisional boundaries. The league has also introduced new rules. There is a big change on the ice that could simplify one of the most controversial rules in hockey and maybe even increase the number of goals scored.

But there are also adjustments to team size, contract structure and goalkeeper requirements, in addition to improved safety protocols. We are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic and the NHL knows it will not be immune, it just needs to prepare as best it can. And oh yes, there will be some new announcements on and off the ice.

Here’s what’s going to change in 2021:


Offside rule

The offside rule has been the subject of debate in recent seasons. At a meeting of general managers in Boca Raton, Florida, last March, everyone agreed that the union could benefit from a more liberal interpretation.

Starting this season, a player’s skate no longer needs to make contact with the blue line to be considered in play. The plane designation means that players won’t have to drag their skates across the ice during the transition to the offensive zone, and this could help ease the difficulties for coaches.

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According to the NHL’s Department of Hockey Operations, the change would have added 14 more goals if it had gone into effect last season.

The new wording of Rule 83.1 is as follows A player is in the playing position when one of his skates touches the blue line or his side of the line when the puck comes completely over the leading edge of the blue line.

The NHL is constantly looking for small improvements to increase scoring and make the game more exciting. This rule change should be consistent with this initiative. At the very least, the scores should be much easier for officials (and fans) to decipher, since we’re no longer doing the detective work to see if a skater is a few millimeters above the ice – we’re just looking to see if the player’s skate is on his side of the blue line.

We think it will bring more fluidity, make it easier for journalists to call and, hopefully, create a new wave of offense, Oilers CEO Ken Holland said at a meeting in March. Would two thumbs up really make a difference? We were concerned that someone was skating, but we don’t think that’s a problem.

New composition of taxi crew

As usual, each team will consist of 23 players and will have to respect the $81.5 million salary cap. But starting in 2021, each team is now allowed to bring four to six additional players into the locker room. These players will train with the team and eventually travel. If they have a bilateral contract, they receive a full salary from the Minor League when they are not on the NHL roster. Under the salary cap, a player’s salary on the taxi team would count as a buried contract in the AHL.

The goal is to facilitate any subpoenaing, especially given that quarantine rules from state to state and country to country can prevent players from being available for hours, which is common in a typical NHL season. Players are free to transfer from the taxi team to the NHL team, but the call must be made by 5 p.m. on the day of the game.

Since the AHL season doesn’t start until the 5th season. When February starts, many teams use the taxi team for their best prospects first – to make sure they have enough ice time and good training until they can play regularly. This can then lead to difficult registration decisions. Some teams use taxis to hide veteran contracts, especially when young players take their place in the lineup.

Guys in the booth have to be ready to get into the starting lineup right away, GM Jim Nill said last month. If we go to Nashville for a game and all of a sudden three players are injured or three players get sick, we have to have those players available immediately. There will be guys in the booth who can probably play right away.

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It’s hard to remember, but the biggest obsession in hockey during the NHL break was the ERUGs (Emergency Backup Goalies). David Ayres, the 42-year-old Zamboni driver who became a savior for the Ducks, made his NHL debut just three weeks before the season break.


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The availability of goaltenders has become even more of a concern for the coming season – again, the conversations are becoming more sensitive.

As a result, the NHL has required teams to have three goaltenders between their active roster and the taxi team this season. If the third goalie ends up in a taxi, he must be the only taxi player to go to all games outside the team.

And thanks to all these precautions – and thanks to the great sadness of those who take advantage of the chaos of ERUGs like Ayres and Scott Foster (remember him?) on the ice – there will be no ERUGs in the arenas this season.

Error! The file name is not specified. Due to some rule changes, it seems unlikely that we will see another magic event like David Ayres’ in the 2021 season. Kevin Souza/NHLI via Getty Images


NHL players have a big windfall because their salaries are not commensurate with the 56-game season. But this season they are saving 10% of their salary, with an escrow account of 20% to bridge the income gap.

For performance bonuses, all thresholds are calculated on a 56/82 pro rata basis. For example, if a player is paid $212,500 for 20 goals, he would have made it if he had scored 14 goals, but instead of a full charge, he paid $145,122.

So these are commitments. If a rookie plays 10 games, it usually means that his or her starting contract goes into effect that season. This season’s rookie threshold is seven games – a mark to watch for several prospects, including Trevor Zegras (Ducks) and Quinton Byfield (Kings). Your teams will have to make a decision: Is it worth it to burn a rookie in the team’s rebuilding program?

The contracts of all players were signed on 30 June 2021 and extended until 27 June 2021. July 2021 extended to meet the July 21, 2021 deadline. July: The Seattle Kraken expansion project is under review.

COVID protocols

The biggest physical change is that coaches are now required to wear masks on the bench, which was not required during the summer bubble tournament.

It will probably be good for me, joked Caps coach Peter Laviolette. No one will see what comes out of my mouth, so my mom will be happy, I guess.

Most players and coaches I’ve talked to don’t think this rule will significantly affect communication during the game; it just needs a little tweaking.

Here’s what you need to know, including plans for the NHL season and how it might work.
– What the NHL will look like in 2020-21
– NHL and COVID-19 : What we know
– What you need to know about international events
– How COVID-19 will affect the outlook.

The NHL also limits where teams can travel. While traveling by car, players may only go to the rink and the hotel (where all meals are served). Visiting bars, restaurants and shops is prohibited. Each player gets their own hotel room, which means no roommates, at least not this season. Teams may only practice in NHL-sanctioned arenas or practice facilities; no team may use third-party rinks and practices are not open to the public.

Teams are encouraged to meet as much as possible, and if there are meetings (videotapes, staff meetings, etc.), they should be held on-site, at a strict physical distance.

The NHL and NHLPA have created a multi-tiered access system, and what is interesting is that team executives, such as B. owners and presidents, are included in group 3. Individuals in Group 3 are prohibited from having direct contact with coaches and players, meaning players cannot be called in for a personal interview with the owner.

At home, players are asked not to attend practice or games. They are also not allowed to park on the team’s property, which is a common practice in many NHL markets. Players and club personnel do not want to communicate with each other outside of team facilities. If there is socialization, it should be spread socially and everyone should wear a mask.

In terms of testing, NHL players and staff will be tested daily during training camp, which will continue through the first four weeks of the season. The NHL and NLPA will then work with infectious disease experts to reassess whether they can maintain a permanent pace the following day.

Error! The file name is not specified. There are NHL helmet ads this season for Devils Egor Sharangovich (#38) and Josh Jacobs (#40). Thanks to the New Jersey Devils.

Lower turnover

It’s no secret that the NHL expects to lose significant revenue if it spends most of the season without fans. Currently, only the Stars, Coyotes, Panthers and Lightning welcome fans (on a limited basis) for the season opener, but many teams hope to follow suit once restrictions are eased in the spring.

The union is therefore creatively looking for ways to get money back and could be more aggressive than ever in doing so. First, the NHL allowed teams to advertise on their helmets for the first time; most teams took the opportunity to give the coveted sticker to a partner named Arena.

Also, for the first time in the NHL, the naming rights of four divisions were sold. Technically, these are NHL Scottish North Division, NHL Honda West Division, NHL Central Division Discover and NHL Massachusetts East Division for the 2021 season.

And keep an eye out for how the sign, glass and bank ads might be different this season, especially on TV.

League sources have changed their tune in talking about all these initiatives. Some insist it is a season, others point out that the NHL is open to all experiments and if it is well received, it could be introduced as a commodity in the future.

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