It’s a rule that makes sense in theory, but the way it’s inconsistently called despite being reviewable on video has kind of made the offside rule in the NHL a running joke. Finally, the NHL is doing something about it.
After three years of knowing the rule as is wasn’t working, GM’s at the NHL meetings today voted to amend the offside rule to make it easier for players not to be penalized for something that’s literally an inch from being a difference-maker in a game.
Essentially, players will no longer need to have their skate on the ice while trying to stay onside. If their skate is over or on the same plane as the blue line, that’s good enough.
This vote took place on the second day of the GM meetings and after the GM’s voted not to change the emergency back-up goaltender protocols because they figured it was far too infrequent an issue that it was worth making the changes necessary to avoid what happened when David Ayres took the net for Carolina in February. This offside rule, however, affects most, if not all games in the NHL, at some point or another.
Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was one of the first to break the news and people seem to be in agreement that the change is necessary, if not long overdue. But, the rule will take some time to change. Any amendment needs to go through the league’s Competition Committee and then be voted on by the board of governors.
Since the introduction of offside challenges NHL officials have been often criticized for inconsistencies in calling the play a violation of offside or not. The expectation is that this should help, even if that’s not a guarantee.
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