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Should The NHL Do Away With The Offsides Challenge

It was announced that the NHL plans on stiffening the penalty for a failed offsides challenge. How about they just do away with it all together.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t heard, the NHL announced Wednesday that it is stiffening the penalty for a failed offsides challenge. Instead of the challenging team only losing their timeout, for the 2017-18 season losing an offsides challenge will result in a minor penalty. Thus giving the team that just scored a goal a two minute power play as well. Ouch.

When the NHL first adopted the offsides challenge I’ll admit that I was all for it. I, like a lot of fans, felt that my team had been screwed over by a blind, skate wearing zebra one too many times.

However, shortly after the first time my team had a goal taken away because a far side attacker had his back skate an inch off the ice as the puck crossed the blue line, I quickly realized this rule was stupid.

In theory the rule made sense.

Get the call right even if it means someone has to eat a little crow. Bring NHL officiating up to the same standards as the NFL and MLB. Try to make the game as fair as possible by taking the variable of human error out of the equation.

In reality there were some pretty glaring holes.

First off, the penalty for losing a challenge wasn’t harsh enough to discourage the coaches. Your team just got scored on, you are looking for something, anything to shift the momentum back to your club, and even if the challenge is lost you are basically trading a timeout now for one that you may or may not use later.

Second, if a team enters the zone and then proceeds to cycle the puck for an extended period of time before finally banging one past the goaltender does it really matter if one attacker was an inch offsides?We all know what the spirit of the offsides rule is and it is really hard to define that spirit in black and white.

Lastly, the heart was willing but the technology was lagging. Seriously, how could a billion dollar industry not be able to figure out a way to mount a camera so something doesn’t obstruct its view. I swear, the first time a challenge could not be determined because the view of the official camera had been blocked Gary Bettman should have had to come out on the ice and announce to the crowd “I’m sorry, its just that we’re stupid”.

Not to mention the precious minutes of our lives that we wasted waiting on an official to announce that the call stands because the video evidence was inconclusive.

I will grant that at least the NHL is trying to right one of the wrongs but what are they going to do about the other two?

As far as I know the cameras will still be in the same place and the blue line does not extend upwards towards the ceiling.

So in theory a player could be onside but because his skate was a fraction of an inch off the ice the goal is disallowed. And in theory a player could be a six inches offsides but because some fat ass was standing in front of the camera the call cannot be overturned.

Instead, why don’t they let the officials interpret the play as they see it in real time and then make the call they deem appropriate. 99 percent of the time the official is going to get the call correct or it will be so close that you will need zoom and super slow motion to determine otherwise.

They already do that with every other rule except goaltender interference. How many blown icing calls have we seen over the years that may or may not have effected the outcome of a game? How many missed tripping or crosschecking calls have slipped through the cracks? I hardly doubt they are going to start reviewing every single one of those.

In the end it all comes out in a wash. Much more often than not the officials get the calls right and when they don’t it just needs to be accepted as part of the game.

Hockey is fast and upbeat. That is what makes the game great. Slowing it down for pointless reviews will only have negative effects even if they get the call right.

Besides, if we couldn’t bitch about bad officiating then what the hell else are we going to talk about?