NHL players won’t be taking part in the Olympics this year. The players are different and so is the rulebook. While there’s consistency across the majority of the rules between the IIHF – which oversees Olympic hockey – and the NHL, there are some notable differences.

Rink Dimensions

While North American Olympics of the past have used NHL arenas measuring 200′ x 85′, PyeongChang is a true international rink at 200′ x 100′. The wider rink means more space, but since it’s space on the perimeter that extra room doesn’t always translate to more offense.  The bluelines are also closer to the goal, shrinking the offensive/defensive zones and increasing the size of the neutral zone.  Gretzky’s Office – the space behind the net – is two feet larger, with the goal line 13 feet from the end boards rather than 11 feet as it is in the NHL.


Goaltenders will also notice a lack of geometric shapes behind the goal line. There’s no trapezoid in international play. Goalies are free to wander and play the puck wherever they’d like.

Coach’s Challenges

Coach’s Challenges are new to the Olympics for 2018. Like the NHL, challenges are limited to goaltender interference and offside plays, with failed challenges resulting in loss of timeout and a minor penalty, respectively.  In the Olympics, though, all plays will be reviewed by the on-ice officials. There’s no Situation Room to make the call. It’s entirely up to the officials. on the ice.

Expect a different take on challenges, though, as there’s a different wrinkle to the rulebook when it comes to players in the crease.  Attacking players are not permitted in the goal crease.  If an attacking player enters the blue paint, the officials will blow the whistle to stop play, with a faceoff in the neutral zone. Goals will be disallowed if a player is in the crease at the time of goal, regardless of whether or not that player actually interfered with the goaltender.  Obviously, that will have a significant impact on goaltender interference and the use of the Coach’s Challenge.

Related: Referees and Linesmen for 2018 PyeongChang Olympics


Here’s the full rule comparison:





Rink Dimensions 200′ x 85′.

Blue lines are 75′ from end boards.

Goal line is 11′ from end boards

Rink is 15 feet wider at 200′ x 100′.

Blue lines were previously 69′ from end boards, butb have been moved to 75′

Goal line is 13′ from end boards

Players Dressed A maximum of 18 players and 2 goalkeepers can be dressed and on the game sheet. A maximum of 20 players and 2 goalkeepers can be dressed and on the game sheet.
Icing the Puck Hybrid icing Hybrid icing as of 2014
Face-Offs The visiting team player must put his stick on the ice first for any face-off.

Players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with his hand shall result in a minor penalty.

The attacking team player must put his stick on the ice first for any face-off in the attacking half of the ice.

Any attempt by either player to win the face-off by batting the puck with his hand shall result in stoppage of play and a new face-off will be set up following the replacement of the player that played the puck by the hand and caused the stoppage.

Goalkeeper Restricted
Area Back of Net
A goalkeeper who plays the puck outside of the trapezoid lines located back of the goal net is assessed a minor penalty. No such rule.
High Sticking the Puck The ensuing face-off must take place at the spot that provides the least territorial advantage to the team striking the puck, either where the puck was contacted illegally, or where it was last played by the offending team. If the puck has been high-sticked by a player in his defending zone or in the neutral zone, the face-off shall take place at the nearest defending zone face-off spot.
High Sticking A player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follows through of a shooting motion, or accidental contact on the opposing center who is bent over during the course of a face-off. Penalty according to IIHF Rule 530
Offside On a delayed offside, any shot on goal will not bring about a stoppage.

If a puck rebounds off a defending player in neutral zone with an attacking player in the end zone – NO offside unless an opposing player causes puck to deflect off the defending player.

On a delayed offside, any shot on goal will bring about a stoppage. Intentional off side.Offside.
Change of Players The visiting team is allowed 5 seconds to change and the home team is allowed 8 seconds to change players following a stoppage. This ruling does not apply in overtime or in the last 2 minutes of regulation time. Each team is allowed 5 seconds to change their players following a stoppage throughout the entire game.
Protective Equipment A second violation of the same player who was previously warned for his equipment by the referee will result in a minor penalty being assessed to that player. The first violation of any equipment by any player after a warning to a team by the referee will result in a misconduct penalty being assessed to the player.
Helmet A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play is permitted to continue to play without a helmet.A player may participate without a helmet in the pregame warm-up. A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play must go directly to the players’ bench.

A player must wear a helmet in both the pregame warm-up and in the game with chin strap properly fastened.

Visors All players who have fewer than 25 games of NHL experience must wear a visor properly affixed to their helmet. Visors are to be affixed to the helmets in such a fashion as to ensure adequate eye protection.No such rule. Players born after Dec. 31, 1974, must wear a visor.

Colored or tinted visors are not permitted.

Player’s Stick Maximum curvature of the blade of the stick shall not exceed three-quarters of an inch (3/4″) or 1.9 cm.

Length exceptions 65″ (165 cm) permitted for players 6’6″ (198 cm) tall with the approval of League’s Hockey Operations Department.

Maximum curvature of the blade is 0.59″ (1.5 cm).

IIHF will accept requests for an exception to the length of the shaft of a player’s stick. This exemption is only applicable for athletes with a height of 6’7″ or taller (2 meters). The request for an exemption must be submitted in writing to the IIHF office and must be subsequently approved in writing by the IIHF prior to any such stick being used by the respective athlete. With the exemption, the maximum length of a players’ stick will be increased to 65″ (165.10 cm).

Goalkeeper’s Stick A minimum 1/2″ (1.27 cm) knob of tape or protective covering must be at the top of the shaft.

Curvature is not specified.

The top of the shaft must have a form of protection.

Maximum curvature of the blade is 0.59″ (1.5 cm).

Stick Measurement Players: only one measurement per team per stoppage is allowed.

No measurement of a goalkeeper’s stick is permitted during the course of a game.

Only one measurement for one team per stoppage is allowed.

Goaltender’s stick may be measured any time, the same as a player’s stick.

Time-Outs Only one team may request a team time-out during a stoppage. Both teams may request team time-outs during the same stoppage.
Kicking the Puck A goal is only allowed if the kicked puck deflects off of any stick, except the goalkeeper’s stick, and goes into the net. No goal.
Conditions to Award a Penalty Shot The player is in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the referee, the player clearly would have obtained possession and control) in the neutral or attacking zone. A player must have control of the puck for the team to be awarded a penalty shot.
Protection of Goalkeeper No such rule. The play is stopped if an attacking player stands in the goal crease. Face-off in the neutral zone.
Checking from Behind No minor penalty options, only a 5 minute major plus a game misconduct or a match penalty. A minor penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct, or a 5-minute major plus an automatic game misconduct or a match penalty.
Checking to the Head and Neck Area Minor penalty.


Match penalty – Attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent.

Minor penalty

Major penalty + automatic game misconduct.

Match penalty.

Match penalty – If an injury. No options.

Fighting A 5-minute major penalty, but player remains in the game.Players must go to their benches.

A game misconduct if the jersey is not “tied down.”

A 5-minute major for roughing plus an automatic game misconduct or a match penalty.Referee may order players to their benches.

No such rule.

Major Penalty The replacement player must be in the penalty box before the penalty is terminated. The replacement player must be in the Penalty Box immediately.
Physical Abuse of Officials A player is assessed a game misconduct and officials decide on the category. A player is assessed a match penalty and the Disciplinary Panel decides the length of suspension.
Slew Footing A match penalty. A minor penalty, or a 5-minute major plus an automatic game misconduct or a match penalty, all called under the tripping rule.