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Ask Athlon: NHL

Q: What is the intent of the trapezoid area behind the goal of an NHL hockey rink? If I am interpreting the rules of hockey correctly, this is the only area that the goalie is allowed to play the puck outside of his goal crease without drawing a delay of game penalty.

— Ted Bauer, North Canton, Ohio

A: Ted, you’re close, but with one important clarification: It’s the only place behind the goal line that the goaltender can handle the puck. The trapezoid — or, more precisely, the goaltender trap zone — dates back to the 2004-05 American Hockey League season, when it was tested with the intent of improving the flow of the game by making it more difficult for the goaltender to control and clear the puck. The development worked so well that the NHL adopted it the following season. Nevertheless, there has been sentiment since the rule was implemented to do away with the trapezoid, since it leads to more hits on defensemen, who can’t rely on goaltender help behind the goal.

Rob Doster, Senior Editor

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