Offside in the NHL is reportedly set to get just a little bit easier to call thanks to a proposed change at the annual general manager’s meeting.
The NHL is seemingly headed towards tweaking their offside rule in the coming months. According to reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Tuesday at the league’s annual general manager’s meetings, the NHL will be changing the way their offside rule works by removing the stipulation that at least one of a player’s skates has to be touching the ice to be considered “onside.”
Under this supposed rule change, the NHL will adopt the NFL-style of “breaking the plane” where a player’s skate can now either be on the ice or above it to be considered onside.
This rule change had been bandied about by the general managers in years past, stretching back at least as far as 2017. In November of last year, the NHL put the issue back on the table for general managers to discuss in March, as the current iteration of the rule is seemingly unsatisfactory for the NHL.
“We’re going to discuss it again,” Vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in November, according to Sportsnet. “There’s a lot of nice goals scored [with] a foot in the air that you take back. We want to be fan-friendly and player-friendly.
“When a play goes on for 30 seconds and the goal is negated because of a foot in the air, we had three managers who spoke to it and felt maybe it was time to re-address it.”
The idea behind the rule change is to spend less time reviewing for offside and, in theory, increase the goals scored across the league.
Since the NHL introduced the coach’s challenge during the 2015-16 season, the offside rule has come under major scrutiny. The coach’s challenge was meant to curb egregious violations of the offside ruling — such as Matt Duchene being a mile offside in 2013 — but instead, the challenge has been used to initiate ticky-tack rulings on calls that no human could make in real-time.
The coach’s challenge has undergone changes in the past, with the latest change coming last offseason that sees a failed challenge be penalized with a delay of game penalty, in hopes that coaches would use the review less for calls too close to discern.
The proposal has not passed into rule yet, as it would still need to be approved by the competition committee and the NHL’s Board of Governors. However, this new update to the offside rule is a step in the right direction to make the ruling clearer and cut down on the time taken by video review to get the call right.
The NHL will likely not get rid of offside altogether like many people wish they would, but this ruling adds more clarity to a controversial challenge in an attempt to make it easier to enforce and hopefully cause fewer headaches for fans and players alike.
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