The Perfect Fix for the shaky NHL Offside Rule
We’re all sick of it. The overwhelming amount of video replays for an offside call within fractions of inches, the constant stunting of momentum. The NHL is trying to do the right thing, getting the call right should be the number one priority. The only problem is, the rule of calling a play offside, and even how the blueline itself is used are far too much grey-area/up for debate rulings. It’s time for the NHL to take a step into the future and really shake up the way one of the oldest rules in the book is called.
Before I show you my ideas, first we need to quickly get the main point of an offside understood. The NHL is a super quick game. The idea of calling a player offside is NOT because of an inch or a hair one way of the other, during a play you had no idea was even close to being offside. Offside’s should be nearly blatant. It’s to stop a player from having a ridiculous advantage over his defender. Of course, you have to call it tightly, but we’re not going about it the best way at all. Let’s keep this game moving, and get more pucks in the net.
Without further ado, here we go!
THE ENTIRE LINE SHOULD BE USED AS A SAFE ZONE
On almost every goal called back, the puck and the offside player’s skate will share the blueline at one point. Both the puck and the player’s skate will be on, or hovering the blueline, and then the skate will cross the line completely before the puck, making it offside.
This should not matter. The entire blue line should be used as the safe zone. If the any part of the player and puck are on the line at the same time, that should be onside. Even if the skate is not touching the ice, which brings us to our next change.
THE “SKATE WAS OFF OF THE ICE” FIASCO
Again, a play will be called back due to the player who is caught offside having his trailing skate off of the ice entering the offensive zone (while his leading skate is fully in the zone).
And again, it shouldn’t matter if the player is physically touching the ice. The blue line should NOT be used as a physical line, but instead as a visual line. Think about how it works in the NFL – when a player holds the ball over the goal line for a touchdown, the ball does not physically need to touch the endzone soil. The goal line is used as a visual. By using the NHL blueline like an NFL goal line, a player should not be called offside if any part of his body is behind OR parallel to the blueline while the puck begins to touch the blueline. So, if the edge of the puck is on the line, and the toe of the skate is at very least hovering over the line at the same time – that’s onside. Of course, you might need to upgrade those blueline cameras.
So far, all of these minor rule changes are giving players a lot more leeway, which is exactly what needs to happen. Keep the play going at all costs as long as the offside isn’t blatant and completely giving an advantage to the offense (talking to you, Matt Duchene). Well, this next change is by far the most innovative, and would definitely slash offside rates. But please, go easy on me, and keep an open mind.
MAKE THE BLUELINES BIGGER
The current NHL blueline is 12 inches (1 foot) wide. By applying these new rules, having a bigger blueline would be tremendously helpful in keeping plays onside, and would even assist the officials in having a better visual to make calls right the first time.
How big should the lines be? Here’s the part where you’re either going to say “you’re so dumb bro” or “bro you’re a genius” or “bro that’s a moderately good idea”. It looks a little dorky without logos on the ice, but bare with me, that’s coming.
I firmly believe the blueline should be at least a yard (3ft) wide. The line would mostly extend deeper into the offensive zone. A bigger blueline helps with a few different things – remember, if the puck and skate occupy the blueline together at any point while entering, it’s onside;
- A yard is the approximate size of a skating stride. The puck carrier can be roughly a full stride behind the leading player and still be onside.
- While receiving passes, players will have more space to complete their reception while on the blueline. This happens a lot due to plays being so tightly run at high speeds.
- Defensemen straying the blueline with the puck will have more space/ a bigger warning to make plays before the puck crosses the line.
- Of course, the biggest reason is purely just the amount of space the puck and player can share. Making the “safe zone” bigger will help enormously.
That P.K. Subban goal would have counted in game one if the blueline looked like this:
Having a bigger blueline can also make the league money. How, you may ask? Advertising. We know the NHL loves to advertise on anything they possibly can (watch out jerseys, you’re next), and the blueline would actually be an acceptable place for advertisements if done properly. Take a look below as to how it would look.
The printing of the advertisement logo would be at least a puck’s diameter inward on each edge of the line’s surface, as to keep from visual confusion towards the edges of the line.
So, quickly here’s what could be done to easily eliminate a large portion of plays called offside, and dreaded (but warranted) coaches’ challenges.
- Make the blueline a visual, not physical tool. If you’re hovering over it, skate touching or not, you’re onside.
- Make the blueline a safezone. If the puck and player are touching/hovering simultaneously at any point while crossing, you’re onside.
- Make the blueline bigger, allowing a bigger safezone – and possibly even making it profitable!
The NHL is the fastest-paced sport on earth. Let’s keep the thing moving, and get more pucks in the back of the net!