Monday night before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media in his annual state of the league address.
No more than a few hours after his address was there a controversial offsides call on what would have been the first goal of the Stanley Cup Final from Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.
Earlier on the play Nashville winger Filip Forsberg caught a pass heading into the offensive zone that would eventually be the reason the goal was reversed. It was ruled that as Forsberg was receiving the pass with his stick inside the Pittsburgh Penguins defensive zone, he lifted his right foot up before the puck completely crossed the blue line, making him offsides.
Because of how close the play was to being onsides, and how Pittsburgh was able to gain control of the game shortly afterwards, it stirred up the controversy surrounding offsides calls.
Discussion: What changes can be made?
There are people that do not want to see offsides changed at all. If you’re offsides you’re offsides and that is too bad. Whether it was a foot offsides or only a couple inches, that is how the rule goes.
Then there is the opinion that minor tweaks should be made to offsides calls that will still protect teams from being burned by a player that was clearly offsides, but not make the game become tedious and nitpicky.
Rule 83 of the 2016-2017 NHL Official Rule Book states “A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick.” The term “in contact with” is important because it does not allow a player to have his skate in the air, over the blue line. His skate must be in contact with the blue line to be on-sides.
Here are some potential changes to the offsides rule:
- Allow the player’s skate to not be physically making contact with the ice, as long as it it is above the blue line and not completely in the offensive zone, it should be onsides.
- Instead of taking away a coach’s challenge if the call does not go the challenging team’s way, penalize them instead. This would keep coaches from challenging extremely close situations they are not 100% sure on.
- Allow the referee to make a judgement call on the play, similar to what is done on a goaltender interference call. The official, in this rule, has the ability to determine if the goaltender was not able to make the save on a puck that went in the net, due to an opposing player. Applying this to offsides would allow the referees to determine if the player being offsides dramatically influenced the ensuing play and the goal that resulted.
- Create a statute of limitations for offsides calls that result in goals. If the puck enters the zone offsides and the play continues, for example: a minute after the puck entered the zone, and then a goal is scored, the offsides call is not eligible for view.
Potentially a combination of these ideas could be implemented in a way that satisfies both sides of the conflict. Video review was originally expanded to offsides calls to prevent goals from being scored on plays that were obviously offsides. It is now being used on some plays to determine the smallest infraction. In many cases this slows down the flow of the game and, as seen in Pittsburgh Monday night, can even go so far as to swing the momentum of a game.
If you have any suggestions for what should or shouldn’t be done with offsides feel free to leave them in the comments below. I am interested in hearing what other possible changes people come up with. As always, you can find me on twitter @jperrigo7. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me there.
Photo credit: (Offsides cartoon)(dreamstime.com)