Week 18 – Blue Line Specials

NHL Rules

Rule / Situation of the week

Welcome back! This week’s column will try to take some confusion away on why sometimes an obvious offside was waved off by the linesman!

Rule 83.1 states:If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the offside shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.

To better understand the interpretation and the application of this rule, let’s go over a few situations:



A Team B player in his defending zone shoots the puck in the neutral zone where it hit one of his teammate on the leg making the puck going back in the Team B’s zone while there’s two players from Team A still inside that zone. Does the linesman signal a delayed offside here?


No. The puck was directed back in the Team B’s zone by a Team B player nullifying the offside. Rule 83.1



A Team A player shoots the puck out of his zone. The puck goes to a Team A teammate in the neutral zone just beyond the blue line. He is checked by a Team B player just as he receives the puck. The check causes the puck to go back into Team A’s zone while there are still Team B players trapped in their attacking zone. Are the attacking players eligible to play the puck?


No. The linesman would signal a delayed offside. Any action by an attacking player that causes a deflection/rebound off a defending player in the neutral zone back into the defending zone (i.e. stick check, body check, physical contact), a delayed off-side shall be signaled by the Linesman. Rule 83.1



Team A is playing short-handed due to a minor penalty. Team B is pressing in their attacking zone. Team A gains control of the puck and clears the zone. The puck rims all the way around the rink (not touching any players) and re-enters Team A’s defensive zone where it is picked up by a Team B player who had fallen in the corner and now has a scoring opportunity. What action should be taken by the Linesman?


The Linesman shall washout the offside. Rule 83.1. The Team A player legally shot the puck back into the defending zone so the offside should be ignored.



An attacking player in the neutral zone attempts to shoot the puck into the attacking zone. He shoots it in the air and a defending player (skating backwards) bats it ahead with his hand as he is backing through the neutral zone (when he bats it, he has both feet in the neutral zone, just prior to backing over his own blue line). The batted puck however, continues to have momentum in the direction it was originally shot and it spins back into the attacking zone where an attacking player has preceded the puck. Is this a delayed offside situation?


If, in the judgment of the Linesman, the forward momentum of the original shot is what causes the puck to cross the blue line, then a delayed offside must be signaled. However, if he judges that the actions of the defending player batting the puck with his hand causes the puck to enter his own defending zone, then the play must be considered on-side.


We hope this clarify some of the blue line’s decisions!


See you next Monday!



Every Monday during the regular season schedule, we will explain in this column some bizarre or uncommon game situations/rules. Hockey is a particular game when it comes to the rulebook. Hockey officials need to know their rules but more important they have to know the interpretation and application of them! We will see in the next several months, in this series of articles, that a rule hassometimes two different applications depending on the situation that occurred on the ice. This is not theofficialsdeciding on the outcome of the gameshere, by deciding to apply or not the rule, but is rather the interpretation and the application of that rule along with itsintent that dictatesthe final decision made by the officials on the ice! This is not a column to promote or defend our officials but rather an educational tool for all hockey fans and hockey officials to acquire a better understanding of the game of hockey! So let’s start to see if you know your NHL rules! Wewill help you better understand some decisions made by NHL officials some nights and hopefully making you better “couch” referee!