The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has voted to play all upcoming international tournaments scheduled for North America between 2008-2012 – including the 2008 World Championship – on NHL-size rinks.
Generally, IIHF tournaments are played on international-size rinks, which measure 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. The NHL ice surface is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide.
To compensate for the loss in ice width, the IIHF Council, voting in Zurich, will use NHL ice markings. The blue line on an NHL rink is 64 feet from the end boards, while international-size rinks place the blue line just 58 feet out.
“The biggest difference between the international and North American zone proportions is that the end zones on the North American rinks are bigger and the neutral zone is consequently smaller,” said IIHF Sports Director Dave Fitzpatrick. “Our studies show that well over 70 percent of the action in an average game takes place in the end zones. So by using the North American zones in Canadian and American rinks, we actually compensate for the loss of space in width on the North American rinks by utilizing more space in the end zones. With this we can maintain consistency for space integrity of the game in the offensive and defensive zones.”
The only difference now between IIHF tournaments in North America and NHL events will be the removal of the trapezoid behind each net which restricts where goalies can play the puck.
Beside the 2008 World Championship, to be played May 2-18, in Quebec City and Halifax, the affected tournaments are: 2009 World U-20 Championship (Ottawa); 2009 World U-18 Championship (U.S.); 2010 World U-20 Championship (Canada); 2010 Winter Olympics (Vancouver, Feb. 12-28); 2011 World U-20 Championship (U.S.); 2012 World Women Championship (U.S.).