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Photo Credit: © Geoff Burke | 2017 Jan 13

Let’s Talk Offsides

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.

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.

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.

My Take

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.

  • They should just get rid of it. Even after reviews, they still get it wrong a majority of the time, (Not just against the Oilers) slows the game down too much. Make it like football and just make the ruling crossing the plane, feet up or down. OR be 20 feet offside and apparently if you jump it is fine. Makes the league look bush league.

  • Just a Fan

    I have no issue with the coaches challenge but let’s inject a little discretion. If a coach challenges a call then consider the blue line 4 inches wider that it really is (2 inches on each side). Technology allows us to overlay the original blue line with this new wider blue line and review the call.

    This would mean that all the ‘close’ calls would remain as called on the ice but the blatant missed calls could still be challenged and overturned.

  • Imo offside shouldn’t be challengable. A team could get a goal taken away from an offside 4 minutes ago. It’s not the players’ faults they kept playing because the refs missed a call.

  • tkfisher

    If a goal is scored, it wasn’t because of the 2 cm at the blue line, it was caused by a good or bad play after crossing the blue line. Further, if the refs incorrectly blow a play down that was actually onside, they don’t review it and resume play as it should have been. The refs are professionals. Let them make the call and move it along. Take out this asinine rule that slows the play down and removes offense.

  • freelancer

    Get rid of the challenge, it’s especially painful to watch goal get taken back after the play has gone on in the offensive zone for a couple of minutes. I’ve also heard suggestions to change it to the body crossing the line vs having a skate touching the line. Either way it’s become a joke and needs to be changed.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    When Kassian is offside by an inch but is 3 or 4 feet away from a guy who can defend him, it shouldn’t matter. If he was an inch behind the play, he still would have had the same opportunity.

    The Panarin goal is fine based on the rules and based on how refs have been calling the rule, the Toews goal should have been no goal even though i think it should count.

    They should really just get rid of it though. The Duchene offside goal is very rare. I’d rather see a guy get a goal while being totally offside once every few years VS having goals disallowed most nights for being an inch offside.

  • Hemmercules

    Lose the review. They take way too long when it seems pretty clear most of the time, then half the time they get it wrong anyway. For a league that wants more goals and better flow to the game, they still seem to find ways to slow it down and reduce goal scoring.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Instead of losing a (mostly) worthless Timeout when a Coach is wrong, assess them at least a 2 minute Delay of Game penalty. You’ll see quite a drop in borderline Challenges then.

  • Gravis82

    Two things: 1) the purpose of the offside is to determine if an advantage was obtained. It is unlikely that an advantage was obtained if it is undetectable with the human eye. This now applies to video review as well. Video review only functions as far as we are able to zoom in. Now that we are slowing down the play and looking at cm, why not just get better cameras and zoom in to look at 1/10ths of a millimeter? There is no difference. If they really want to get it right by zooming in, why not just zoom in more? This will help get even more calls right? 2) If the NHL really wants to do this, give coaches 3 offside challenges per season, and 1 in the playoffs. This way, guaranteed they would only use them when a call was obviously blown, rather than just an offside by 1/2 cm that had no impact on the play realistically.

  • Gravis82

    ok seriously. Why are there hardly any comments on this article? Is this just a technical issue? Are people making comments that just are not going through? Is the website forgetting to remember logins, thus lazy people don’t want to put in their credentials every time? Do people simply not see the comment box? If there are no technical issues I bet its just that its hard to see. I think you could gain a lot more mileage simply by adding some color and contrast. Columns, you need columns; columns of some contrasting colors. Newspaper are organized into columns for a reason. The page is too white and bland, making it difficult to identify the interactive section. I think that is contributing.

    • OILBUCKET

      I agree I think We are being censored also! I cannot comment on Flamesnation? Make it fair and stop the Censorship! Try to post anything that is negative like Tkachuk is dirty and no way it gets posted?

  • Bills Bills

    60% of the time they get it right every time. For the most part the review gets ot right. But in the grand scheme of things you have to ask, does it make the game better? I think the answer is obvious that it does not. It has become another tool in the coaches toolbox, they can slow the game down and help take momentum away from the scoring team. The game needs to be fluid or it is not as exciting.

  • Señor Frijoles

    I agree with the idea of a 2 min delay of game penalty for an unsuccessful challenge. This would virtually eliminate the maybe-offside-by-a-centimetre challenges, but still give coaches protection against egregious errors like in the Duchesne video above. I think it’s a good compromise.

  • bored

    First off, I hate the idea of a coaches challenge for offsides (and not all the other infractions), it puts a ridiculous amount of weight on such a minor infraction in my opinion.

    However, if they feel the need to keep this in play I would suggest that a coach cannot use slow motion instant replay to decide whether they want to challenge or not. If coaches, like linesman, have to use the naked eye, than only blatant offsides (like Duchene example above) will be challenged and the spirit of this stupid idea will be upheld.

  • Ready to Win

    One way they could allow anything to be challenged but reduce the frivolous uses of the challenge would be to give the team that initiates a failed challenge a delay of game penalty.

    • bored

      I think that would definitely cut down number of challenges, but there’s no way GM’s would let that fly as essentially in a failed challenge situation, they have just surrendered a goal and adding a penalty on top of that would be pretty drastic…

  • oilerjed

    Like too many rules in the NHL, way too much of it is subject to interpretation, and each interpretation seems to contradict another. The worst offender in my book though is icings and face-offs. I truly have no idea what the rule for either is anymore. The refs are holding up their hands after a false start in the draw, what the hell does that mean? And dont even get me started on icings. I’m pretty sure that the puck doesn’t even need to cross the end line anymore and players aren’t actually required to make any effort to get to it anyway.
    Add to this that the playoffs are around the corner and the rest of the rule book is about to get thrown out.
    short and simple version, who the $%^* knows how the game is being called.

  • jeddybear

    So, if the point of the review was to ensure we get rid of the blatant missed offsides, then have the challenge only available for obvious offsides…both feet fully over the blue line plane before the puck crosses fully over the blue line.

    This would eliminate 95% of the challenges. Doesn’t seem like a difficult fix, and you eliminate the blatant missed calls that were the problem to begin with.

  • tileguy

    Just eliminate the cameras on the blue line and use one in the sky to catch obvious blown calls, we don’t need calls based on millimetres. The linesman call will stand 99% of the time then.

  • CMG30

    At minimum, get rid of the game stoppage when reviewing the play. No reason all goals can’t be reviewed while play goes on then the ref’s can deliver the bad news at the next stoppage in play. This keeps things rolling and prevents coaches from using a review basically as a 2 minute time out.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I think if the puck hits the netting the play should continue. I also think if you ice the puck from your own zone it should be a delay of game penalty. I also think if you’re on the PK you need to get to your own blueline and not the halfline in order to ice the puck.

  • deferoiler

    Mark me words someone is gonna get robbed of the cup on one of these offside challenges. It’s buffalo vs Dallas foot in the crease controversy all over agian. And honestly until that happens the League won’t do squat about it.

    • fasteddy

      Why can’t it just be linesman call, end of story? This is stupidity, as many have said the ridiculous ones where play goes on for a bit then it’s reviewed and discovered someone’s toe was offside 45 seconds before the goal….just silly.