The NHL introduced coaches' challenges for offsides a couple
of years ago and this campaign the league will be introducing minor penalties
for a failed challenge. The main reason for this is the lengthy delay that many
challenges result in when video replays are checked over and over again. This
is because some offsides are simply too close to call even with the help of
modern technology. With players' feet often being in the air when they're crossing
the blue line, it's almost impossible to tell if they were onside or offside by
a skate lace.
The league and Players' Association got together in June to
discus potential rule changes for the upcoming 2017/18 season and one of the
hottest debates involved the offside challenge. It was proposed that a team
which challenges an offside call and then loses that challenge, will be
assessed a two-minute minor penalty. The thinking is that coaches will only
make a challenge on a blatant missed call or if they're certain of winning the
challenge. This allows the NHL to leave the offside rule as it is without
having to alter it or do away with it completely.
According to league statistics, there were 131 challenges to
offside calls by NHL coaches in the 2016/17 season. That was an increase of 32
per cent over the 2015/16 campaign, which was the first year the challenge was
introduced. But the NHL found coaches were often challenging calls just for the
sake of it if they had one remaining late in in a game and were scored against.
With these offside calls being decided by a fraction of an inch, it took far too long for game officials to come to a conclusive decision. They were
also using small I-Pad type screens to watch the replays on at ice level.
The offside challenge was brought in to help rectify obvious
missed calls by the linesmen, but since this so rarely happens, the spirit of
the rule has been abused. Blatant missed calls can be reviewed and reversed in
a matter of seconds via instant replay, but when a player was possibly offside
by a toenail it was becoming increasingly difficult to spot. With a two-minute
penalty at stake, the NHL is hoping the number of challenges will dramatically
decrease this season and fans won't have to sit through lengthy delays. In
addition, a team doesn't need to have its timeout remaining to challenge an
offside call this year.
Other than the penalty for failed offside challenges, the
NHL has yet to announce any other major rule changes for the 2017/18 campaign.
Labels: Ian Palmer