NHL general managers fine with current offside rule

Chuck Fletcher walks the red carpet prior to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Brookfield Place on November 9, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Getty Images)
Chuck Fletcher walks the red carpet prior to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Brookfield Place on November 9, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Getty Images)

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The NHL general managers decided to not recommend a tweak to the league’s current offside rule.

This was determined at the second day of meetings where the GMs looked at the some current issues in the game, with some time being devoted to offside specifically.

“I don’t think we have to change anything,” Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said. “You grow up as a kid and you know the rule and it is what it is.”

Heading into the meetings, it was believed that league general managers could request to make the plane of the blue line offside. The offside rule states that, “A player is offside when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line.”

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This means if a player’s skate isn’t on the ice and above the blue line, he is offside. Such a rule change would have made this type of play onside and also reportedly had the potential to lead to more goals.

NHL hockey operations director Colin Campbell said it was believed a change wasn’t needed because it would be minimally effective. According to Campbell there were 29 reviews of an offside play that involved a foot in the air with nine goals being overturned.

“We talked about it a lot,” said Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka. “It always comes back to the fact that there are over 5,000 offside and there were nine goals that were disallowed that would have been allowed if we change the rule.”

Some general managers also voice worry about the safety issue for a player wearing skate blades jumping in the air to stay onside.

“I know there is some concern that if you have the skate in the air so long as it’s breaking the plane now you have skates in the air and skate cuts can be nasty,” Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. “So we’re trying to keep the players skates on the ice at all times.”

Offside has become a flashpoint for the NHL because of video review with the coach’s challenge, which was implemented last season. Before 2015-16, the league OK’d the ability for a coach to challenge a goal if the play was offside or if a player interfered with a goaltender. The league thought goaltender interference would be the biggest issue, but offside has triggered the most controversy.

“We didn’t anticipate to have the issues we do with offside. We thought offside would be simply black and white,” Campbell said. “As it turned out we’ve had a lot of issues because the blue line cameras and the excellent technology advancement of (high-definition) in watching a hockey game. They’re so close and we had an issue with some GMs are about our inconclusive answer – meaning it’s either a goal or not a goal, but sometimes we think it might be offside on that goal and we could not prove conclusively because a foot was hidden by a skate or by an arm.”

Campbell was asked if he was worried about whether the offside complications was discussed Tuesday would crop up in the playoffs, and he noted that such issues are an occupational hazard for hockey operations.

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“We always go into the playoffs nervous as hell,” Campbell said. “There’s always something.”

Campbell said the possibility of removing offside altogether was broached but never got much traction.

“I don’t think anything is wrong with the game,” he said. “But it’s never wrong in looking at it and saying, ‘how can we improve it or how can we get in front of what we need to get in front of.'”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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