St. Louis Blues: NHL “Clarifies” Offside, Will Likely Cause More Confusion

Linesman Pierre Champoux St.Louis BluesPhoto by Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Linesman Pierre Champoux St.Louis BluesPhoto by Dave Sandford/Getty Images /

The St. Louis Blues will be adjusting to a slightly altered offside rule in 2021. The change should be good, but the implementation is probably not going to be.

The St. Louis Blues have been burned several times by the offside rule in recent years. It’s likely true for all teams, but we see it with the Blues more because we watch every game with ferocious intent.

The way the rule read most recently, the offensive player’s skate had to be in contact with the ice on the defensive side of the blue line (which included the blue line itself) before the puck entered the zone. Now, attempting to be a little more clear on the rule, and perhaps nullifying fewer goals, the league has tweaked it.

While I’m sure the official rule has some boring and legal language to it, the gist of it is that they have extended the blue line upward into infinity. Think about the goal line in football and that is what the NHL doing.

In theory, this should be a good thing and most articles discussing the matter are taking that approach. Again, in theory, it would give offensive players a more normal stride and you just judge whether the skate has crossed the plane of the blue line.

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The problem is in how it is applied. Other sports have proven that it is easier said than done.

For example, most people point to the NFL for how the plane concept works. Think about how many plays happen every weekend where one fan base is yelling at the TV that it was not conclusive and the other is yelling there is no way the ball could not have crossed the line. It still comes down to a judgement call by the replay official.

For those that follow soccer, like myself, the evidence is even more egregious. The channels showing the Premier League will show the offside angle that the officials got to look at on a video review, put a line down for the last defender and it will often show that even though the referee had the same stop-frame, they got the call wrong.

Now, soccer admittedly has issues with it’s rule anyway. Some consider a foot offside, some a shoulder and others not.

However, the NHL change could present just as many problems. While some say it should cut down on review time, I can picture a scenario where we spend five minutes trying to figure out if the skate blade might still be on the correct side of the plane of the blue line.

Hopefully, I am wrong. I have already had some discussions with fans that like the change.

In theory, it should make things better. But replays never quite get things 100% right, so there are still things that could and probably will go wrong.

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Perhaps it will only be a fraction of the time. It seems like those instances get magnified though, so we will see.