NHL Introduces Minor Penalties for Failed Offside Challenges

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.