Early evolution of rules

In the rules of the time around 1875, reference was made to rugby elements, which were not put down in writing. It was taken for granted that everybody knew them!

Some extracts from those playing regulations:

  1. A face-off in the centre shall start the game in the beginning and after a goal. For this purpose, the puck (ball) shall be placed between two players.
  2. Once a player touched (hit) the ball (puck), anybody who was near the opponent’s goal line at the time the puck was touched shall not be allowed to take part in the game. Players must always be on the same side as the puck.
  3. The puck (ball) may be stopped but must not be carried. Players are not allowed to carry their sticks above the height of their shoulders. Attacking from behind, holding the collar, treading or kicking is forbidden.

Some of the rugby elements were deleted later on. Rugby players felt that it would be unfair to make forward passes. This resulted in the fact, as contemporaries critically remarked, that there was unnecessary crowding, especially in front of the goals.


As a consequence thereof, later on (in 1913) the blue line and the division of the playing surface into three parts was introduced. At first, the blue line was drawn at three, later at ten and eventually at 30 feet (1 foot = 30.48 cm) in front of the goal line thus creating a zone where the defending player was free to play the puck. One team counted at that time nine players. In 1884 there was some annoyance when the owners of the ice arena in Montreal demanded a reduction of the players in a team to seven. The figure skaters had threatened to leave the arena because ice hockey would damage the ice too much.

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