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All players are well aware of the surface they are playing on. They know the length of the ice and the amount of room they have to play in the neutral zone.  Advancements in the game of hockey have led to frequent modifications to the markings on the playing surface. Please note that the below layouts reflect the expectations from the National Hockey League, but there have been teams throughout history, particularly the earlier years, who have had some discrepancies with their hockey markings.

Throughout the history of the NHL, there have been many variances from rink to rink such as Edmonton's center ice facing the players benches or the shorter rinks like the one in the Chicago Stadium. There were quite a few of these abnormalities, but for the sake of the overall history of the NHL, the following graphics will be based upon the typical 200 by 85 foot rink.

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Vintage Rinks
1917-1949
 
1918 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1917-1918 Season

The rink started out with only a face-off dot and a line between each of the goal posts to show where the nets should set. Those lines cannot be seen in the image as they are covered by the net itself.

1919 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1918-1919 through 1925-1926 Seasons

The playing surface was divided into three zones, with forward passing permitted in the middle "neutral zone."​ Kicking the puck was also permitted in the neutral zone. These zones were divided up by adding 2 inch thick blue lines 40 feet apart.

  • Neutral Zone: 40 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 80 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1927 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1926-1927 through 1928-1929 Seasons

The blue lines were moved 10 feet closer to each of the end boards to expand the neutral zone.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1930 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1929-1930 through 1930-1931 Seasons

Additional face-off dots are added to the ice surface, 10 feet in front of each goal. Every time a goaltender failed to clear the puck after making a save, a face-off would be held at the dot in front of his net. No player other than the goalie was permitted to stand between the face-off spot and the net.​

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1932 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1931-1932 through 1932-1933 Seasons

Three additional face-off dots are added in the neutral zone along each blue line, inside the neutral zone.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1934 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1933-1934 Season

L-Shaped boundaries were placed in front of each net defining a goaltenders safe area. The boundary was 8 feet by 5 feet.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1935 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1934-1935 through 1936-1937 Seasons

Two 20 foot diameter "penalty shot" circles were added, one in front of each goal, centered at 38 feet from the goal lines. If a player was tripped preventing him from shooting while on what we now call a "breakaway", a player takes a penalty shot which must be taken from inside this circle. A full goal crease was also painted on the ice at this time.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line (not painted) to end boards: 10 feet.

1938 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1937-1938 Season

Two face-off dots are added in each defensive zone. The dots in front of each of the goals are removed. The goal line was also introduced as new rules governing icing the puck were introduced.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1939 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1938-1939 Season

The width of each of the blue lines were increased to 12 inches.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1940 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1939-1940 through 1940-1941 Seasons

The goal crease is modified to 7 feet by 3 feet.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1942 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1941-1942 through 1942-1943 Seasons

Twenty-foot face-off circles are added at center ice and in each corner. The penalty shot circles are replaced with short penalty shot lines 28 feet in front of the goal. Minor penalty shots are taken from the line while major penalty shots allow the player to skate in on the goaltender.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1944 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1943-1944 through 1944-1945 Seasons

The center red line was introduced to speed up the game and reduce offside calls. The red line is 12 inches in width.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1946 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1945-1946 through 1946-1947 Seasons

The penalty shot line is removed and all penalty shots are now taken from center ice.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1948 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1947-1948 through 1948-1949 Seasons

The area inside each goal net is painted white to make it easier for referees and goal judges to determine if a goal has been scored. 

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

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Original Six Era
1950-1964
 
1950 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1949-1950 through 1950-1951 Seasons

The entire surface is painted white following the popularity of the white goal area among fans and officials.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1952 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1951-1952 Season

The size of the goal crease is increased to 8 feet by 4 feet. Face-off circles were expanded to 30 feet in diameter.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1953 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1952-1953 Season

The middle set of neutral zone face-off dots were removed. 

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1954 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1953-1954 through 1955-1956 Seasons

The neural zone and defensive zone face-off dots are enlarged from 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter. 

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1957 HOFR 20210526.jpg
1956-1957 Season

Hash marks were added to the defensive zone circles to keep players onside when lining up for a face-off.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1958 NHL Season Ice Rink
1957-1958 through 1960-1961 Seasons

A single horizontal hash mark was added through each of the four defensive zone faceoff dots. The referee's crease was also added. Its position would vary from rink to rink.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1962 NHL Season Ice Rink
1961-1962 through 1963-1964 Seasons

"Crosshairs" were added to face-off dots in defensive zones.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

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Expansion Era
1965-1986
 
1965 NHL Season Ice Rink
1964-1965 through 1972-1973 Seasons

Though some teams had already started using checkered red lines, they are now listed as required in the NHL rule book. Its purpose was to help TV viewers distinguish the red line from the blue lines. This would become less important once color TV became widely available.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1974 NHL Season Ice Rink
1973-1974 through 1975-1976 Seasons

Cross-hairs updated to T shaped markings.​

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1977 NHL Season Ice Rink
1976-1977 through 1977-1978 Seasons

Cross-hairs enlarged and a small horizontal hash mark was added through the face off dot.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1979 NHL Season Ice Rink
1978-1979 through 1981-1982 Seasons

Double hash marks replace previous markings outside the four face off circles.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1983 NHL Season Ice Rink
1982-1983 through 1983-1984 Seasons

Modified defensive zone face-off dots replace all previous markings inside the face off circles.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

Modified face-off dots are still 1 foot in diameter, but no longer completely filled in. These would replace the solid neutral zone dots in the 2002-2003 season.

1985 NHL Season Ice Rink
1984-1985 through 1985-1986 Seasons

Rink visual of the new goal frames. No ice markings were changed since the 1983-1984 season.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

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Modern Rinks
1987-Present
 
1987 NHL Season Ice Rink
1986-1987 through 1989-1990 Seasons

A round goal crease was added, surrounding the traditional rectangular crease.

  • Neutral Zone: 60 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 70 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 10 feet.

1991 NHL Season Ice Rink
1990-1991 Season

In an effort to increase offense by giving players more room to operate behind the net, the goal lines, blue lines and defensive zone face-off circles were all moved out one foot further from the end boards.

  • Neutral Zone: 58 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 71 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.

1992 NHL Season Ice Rink
1991-1992 through 1994-1995 Seasons

The rectangular goal crease is eliminated, L-shaped markings with both lines five inches long are placed just inside the edge of the semi-circle crease. The entire goal crease and area occupied by the net are tinted blue.

For the 1993-1994 season, the magnetic pegs were replaced with plastic ones.

  • Neutral Zone: 58 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 71 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.

1996 NHL Season Ice Rink
1995-1996 Season

The goal area inside of the net returns to its previous white color.

  • Neutral Zone: 58 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 71 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.

1997 NHL Ice Rink
1996-1997 through 1997-1998 Seasons

L-Shaped positioning marks are added to the two face-off spots in each defensive end.

  • Neutral Zone: 58 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 71 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.

1999 NHL Season Ice Rink
1998-1999 through 2000-2001 Seasons

The goal lines, blue lines, faceoff circles are all moved two feet closer to the neutral zone, creating more room for player movement behind the net. To cut down on in-the-crease violations, the size of the crease was altered to only extend one foot beyond each goal post.

  • Neutral Zone: 54 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 73 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 13 feet.

2002 NHL Season Ice Rink
2001-2002 Season

The NHL honored the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by painting ribbons behind each net for all teams.

  • Neutral Zone: 54 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 73 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 13 feet.

2003 NHL Season Ice Rink
2002-2003 through 2003-2004 Seasons

The neutral zone face-off dots now match the style of the defensive zone dots.

  • Neutral Zone: 54 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 73 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 13 feet.

2006 NHL Season Ice Rink
2005-2006 through 2013-2014 Seasons

After the 2004/2005 Lockout, several changes were made to the rink. The neutral zone was shortened to again to allow for more room in each defensive zone. The faceoff circles and goal lines were moved 2 feet closer to the end zones. Trapezoids were added behind the goal lines to limit the area in which goaltenders could touch the puck behind the goals.

  • Neutral Zone: 50 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 75 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.

2015 HOFR 20210414.jpg
2014-2015 Season to Present

The hash marks outside the end zone circles were moved from 3 feet to 5 feet 7 inches separation. The trapezoid grew by two feet from each goal post to create a little extra room for the goaltender to play or recover the puck around the net.

  • Neutral Zone: 50 feet.

  • Defensive Zones: 75 feet.

  • Goal line to end boards: 11 feet.