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NHL hockey will resume with 56-game season, reasonable offside rule

Video reviews will be a little less torturous, probably.

2020 Return to Play - New York Islanders Practice
You know who’s ready? This guy, we suspect.
Photo by George Giosi/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL’s latest announcement for the 2020-21 season carries some significant new specifics, including: Offside will sort of make a little more sense! Kind of.

After absurd video reviews after goals required painstaking, pixelated detail to determine if a skate blade was touching the ice, now they will use painstaking, pixelated detail to determine if a skate has broken the “plane” of the blueline.

It’s an improvement...but it could very well be marginal. Many others have proposed far more reasonable solutions to the Great HD-Camera-Induced Offside Dilemma (Remember: The purpose of the rule is to avoid cherry-picking, not to delineate millimeter-length advantages that aren’t advantages), but those changes, like the long-obvious 2005 elimination of obstruction, are for some later year.

For now, at least we can enjoy the fact that we’ll no longer be debating whether that blurry white space is air or ice:

Beginning in the 2020-21 regular season, a player’s skate will not have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be on-side.


A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with the blue line, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line. On his own side of the line shall be defined by a “plane” of the blue line which shall extend from the leading edge of the blue line upwards. If a player’s skate has yet to break the “plane” prior to the puck crossing the leading edge, he is deemed to be on-side for the purpose of the off-side rule.

Meanwhile, some other key dates, including a humorously token “early” training camp start allowed for the seven teams that were left out of last summer’s mid-pandemic playoff:

  • Dec. 31 - Training camps open for seven Clubs that did not participate in the resumption of play for the 2019-20 season (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa, San Jose)
  • Jan. 3 - Training camps open for the remaining 24 teams
  • Jan. 13 - 2020-21 regular season begins
  • April 12 - Trade deadline (3 p.m. ET)
  • May 8 - Last day of regular season
  • *May 11 - Stanley Cup Playoffs begin
  • *July 9 - Last possible day of Stanley Cup Final
  • July 17 - Deadline for Protection Lists for Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET)
  • July 21 - Expansion Draft for Seattle Kraken (8 p.m. ET)
  • July 23 - Round 1 of NHL Draft
  • July 24 - Rounds 2-7 of NHL Draft
  • July 28 - Restricted Free Agent/Unrestricted Free Agent signing period begins (12 p.m. ET)

So there you have it!

The Islanders will be in camp on Jan. 3. Mathew Barzal will surely be signed (short term, probably) before then. The trade deadline will come just before U.S. Tax Day. The year 2020 has sucked in many ways, but the

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If nothing else, this is kind of fun: