GMs at meetings can't agree on tweak to offside review

BOCA RATON, Florida -- A lack of consensus among the NHL's 31 general managers at the annual meetings Tuesday means it's status quo on the offside video review that has produced so much acrimony this season.

Specifically, it was thought that perhaps there would be enough of an appetite among the group to tweak the offside rule to make players who have a skate up in the air across the blue line be onside.

Instead, the NHL GMs on Tuesday decided to leave it be.

"We think the offside (review) is working," said Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli. "There's obviously some calls that are disputed. We were part of one in Nashville. But I think it's working. We're working out the kinks."

There have been 100 offside video reviews so far this season, the NHL said, 29 of which involved a player with a skate up in the air crossing the blue line. Of those 29, 20 reviews were deemed inconclusive so the goal stood, while nine of them were overturned.

As the GMs decided Tuesday, for the sake of nine overturned goals in a season, perhaps no change is needed.

"We talked about it a lot," said Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka. "It always comes back to the fact that there are over 5,000 offside (calls) and there were nine goals that were disallowed that would have been allowed if we change the rule."

There just wasn't the appetite to make the skate in the air onside.

"I don't think so, no," said Chiarelli. "We talked about it. In my mind, it's just changing the dynamic if you do that. Now you have to determine the dynamic if the leg is breaking the plane or not if it's in the air. So you've got a number of calls that were reversed because the leg was in the air, but if you allow it, you still have to decide if it's breaking the plane. So there's uncertainty on both sides. To me, I look at it like the cost of doing business."

What's clear, though, is that hockey operations in Toronto does in fact have interest in changing the offside rule but can't do so without the backing of the GMs.

"Twenty-nine times this year out of 100 offside calls we had to look at a skate in the air," said NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell. "One of the rationales was if you did not make that the applicable fact that it was in the air and still over the blue line it would be OK we'd have 29 less situations where you were looking at an offside play. One of the arguments made was the players might just change their point of emphasis to inside the blue line.

"I don't know. I was hoping we could convince them but we couldn't, so it's status quo." Another concern for some GMs? The safety aspect of having skates up in the air.

"I know there is some concern that if you have the skate in the air so long as it's breaking the plane now you have skates in the air and skate cuts can be nasty, so we're trying to keep the players' skates on the ice at all times," said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. "The other number we saw is that the number of offsides is going down which is interesting. I think because of this rule the players are making a much more conscious effort to stay onside, which I think is a great thing. That keeps the flow of the game going.

"Obviously you don't want your players going offside because that can prevent a scoring chance. I remember Bryan Murray saying this to me that we never give the players enough credit. If you put a rule change in they'll figure it out and adjust the right way. With offside I really do think we're seeing a difference where players are making that adjustment, they're cognizant of where they are on the ice and we're seeing fewer offside."

The GM meetings wrap up Wednesday where it's expected among the points of discussions will be the bye week. Several teams have complained about them.

There will be a legal report from deputy commissioner Bill Daly, and if there's still time the GMs will discuss the recommendations they pushed forward from their blue-sky sessions in smaller groups from Day 1.