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NHL Announces 2020-21 Key Dates, And Off-Sides Rule Change

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The league announced several key dates and an important rule change as the 2020-21 season draws closer

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

With the plans for the 2020-21 season officially finalized by the NHL and NHLPA, the league has announced their critical dates calendar, along with an important change to NHL Rule 83 (Off-sides).

Critical Dates for 2020-21 Season

Dec. 31 - Training camps open for the seven Clubs that did not participate in the resumption of play for the 2019-20 season. Those teams are the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks.

Jan. 3 - Training camps open for the remaining 24 teams

Jan. 13 - The 2020-21 regular season officially begins

Apr. 12 - Trade deadline (3pm EST)

May 8 - Final day of the regular season

*May 11 - Stanley Cup Playoffs begin

*Jul. 9 - Last possible day of the Stanley Cup Final

Jul. 17 - Deadline for Protection Lists for Seattle Expansion Draft (5pm EST)

Jul. 21 - Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken (8pm EST)

Jul. 23 - First Round of the NHL Draft

Jul. 24 - Rounds 2-7 of the NHL Draft

Jul. 28 - Free agency signing periods begins (12pm EST)

* Subject to change

Changes to Off-sides

The league also announced an important rule change in regards to the off-sides rule for the 2020-21 season. A player’s skate will no longer have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be deemed “on-side”. Much like the NFL, the NHL has transitioned to “breaking the plane” of the blue line when entering into the offensive zone.

If a player’s skate has yet to break the “plane” prior to the puck crossing over the inner edge, he is deemed to be “on-side” under the new conditions. Gone are the days of 20-minute reviews to determine if a player’s skate blade was a quarter inch off of the 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. The updated language for NHL Rule 83.1 follows.

83.1 Off-side - Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone.

The position of the player's skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play.

(NEW) - 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.

Information regarding the 2020-21 season continues to be released on a daily basis, so be sure to stay tuned for more as it becomes available.

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