For decades the offside call was nothing more than a minor rule in the game. It played only a small part until the speed of the game increased so much making it harder and harder for linesmen to make the correct calls. The NHL saw an increase in missed offside and therefore implemented a coaches challenge rule so that all missed offside calls could be corrected. Since they added the coaches challenge, people look at this rule in a completely different way. Now instead of being happy that you can run to the bathroom quickly during an offside whistle, fans are bitter and angry when the conversation comes up.
There are endless amounts of examples we can discuss about how the offside challenge is ruining the game. The NHL has been trying for years to increase the amount of scoring, but what we’ve seen is that this challenge not only takes away the amount of goals scored, but also slows the game down tremendously during reviews.
Let’s never forget the main reason why the ability to review offsides came into place. Sometimes linesmen have their view of the blue line affected, not allowing them to make an accurate call. I get it, mistakes happen. Most close offside calls come down to centimetres which make it extremely difficult for the human eye to catch at such a high speed. But when blatant offside calls such as the Duchene goal above are missed, it makes sense to implement a rule which allows coaches to challenge the call.
The problem with implementing this rule, is if you’re going to use the challenge to call back blatant offsides, then obviously coaches will use it to its full advantage to call back offsides that come down to the centimetre. Interestingly enough, this weekend we saw two offside calls that created some huge controversy in the hockey universe. After many arguments throughout the year, I thought we all had an understanding of the different components of an offside, until now. After watching these two calls from the NHL, fans are confused as ever.
When Artemi Panarin releases his pass for the OT winner, he's crossed the blue line, but the puck still hasn't. pic.twitter.com/qJftkA9rpY
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 19, 2017
Above is the first offside call that happened on Saturday night. Artemi Panarin crosses the blue line but released the puck from his stick before the line, with his skates having crossed over into the offensive zone already. Ryan Hartman went on to score the overtime winner, and the offside was deemed legal by the NHL. The reason is because once Panarin’s skates crossed the blue line, the play is considered on-side, as Panarin made a ‘controlled’ pass across the ice even though it was before the blue line. Okay fine NHL, I can buy into that ruling. I bought it until the very next night when Chicago was involved in another controversial offside call.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 20, 2017
In the above image we see Panik stick handling the puck across the line well before Toews is able to clear the zone. Toews ended up scoring on this play and the coaches challenge deemed the offside as legal. This is as frustrating as a call as it gets for Colorado – who can’t catch a break this season – and everyone else in the standings who are chasing the Blackhawsks. If the NHL is trying to reduce the stigma that they’re favouring the Blackhawks in every aspect of the game, they’re not doing a good job at it (Stay tuned for future consecutive Chicago outdoor games from 2018-2030). The reasoning behind the call is that Panik wasn’t actively touching the puck while Toews was in the zone. The still image below shows the moment Panik touched the puck for the first time after crossing the line at the same time as Toews touches the blue line.
I suppose this ruling makes sense as well, even though I hate it. Panik technically had possession as he crossed the line with the puck, even though he wasn’t touching it in that split second. This then created a delayed offside situation, which allowed Toews to clear the zone in that time. I feel like this call contradicts the first example of the Blackhawk player entering the zone with “possession.”
Here is the war-room explanation on the call.
Yes, it’s incredibly annoying to have a goal taken back because 90 seconds prior, a player was crossing over at the blue line and had his blade off the ice by 0.0001 millimeters. We’ve seen it happen against the Oilers many times this year. But unfortunately, offside is an objective call, As much as it makes me want to stab my eyes out, the rule is the rule. Ever since the challenge came into play, the offside play has come down to a play of centimetres. It sucks, but this is fair. However, if the NHL wants to reduce slowing down the game, and wants to increase scoring, they should leave the calls to be made by the linesmen in real-time, just like penalties. If the linesmen miss an offside due to the speed or any other contributing factor (players in the way, getting bumped off the line), then let it happen – that’s the game. We don’t see anyone bringing up coaches challenges for penalties that were missed do we?
What do you guys think of the offside calls that were made this weekend? Should we remove the coaches challenge? Should we just create robots to man the blue-line instead of linesmen? Should we get rid of blue lines all together? Let me hear it.