Should the NHL Get Rid of Offsides?

NHL GM meetings began last week in Florida to discuss changes to the game we all love. The major focus coming out of Boca Raton seems to be on increasing goal scoring around the league as we’re seeing too many 2-1, 3-2 finishes where both teams play a relatively conservative game. Of course the reason they’re thinking about making changes is the reason for the NHL to do just about anything: draw more fans.

Among the ideas to bring more scoring to the league is establishing a continuous power play, meaning the offender would serve the full two minutes regardless of whether the other team scores or not. They’ve discussed calling icing on penalty killing teams if they simply clear the puck all the way down the ice. They’re also moving forward with establishing new, standardized goalie equipment that will reduce the monstrous collection of pads goalies are currently allowed to wear. I don’t like it, I love it. But the most intriguing change to me was the idea of getting rid of offsides all together.

This has been discussed the past couple of days by Jeff Marek and Greg Wyshynski on their daily podcast and who I must credit as hearing this idea from in the first place. It’s a fascinating idea because it would change the game from being played in separate zones to a more NBA-like anything-goes style. Of course you would have cherry pickers but the guy who decides to do that is also leaving his team to fight off a continuous five on four situation. Again using the NBA comparison, that would be like leaving one guy under the bucket while only four guys play defense. It doesn’t happen. You would also be negating any chance of a potential offensive rush being blown dead by a false offsides or the reverse, a goal being disallowed after the review shows the player was over the blue line before the puck.

I don’t know if this is the way the NHL should go, but I would be all for giving it a shot. Imagine the amount of skill and flow you would see on every shift. Of course this would solve the goal scoring problem, maybe even to an extent where we see the greatest offensive surge the league has ever seen (which, by the way, is working out pretty well for the NFL’s ratings). Given the skill of players nowadays, there might be reason to think that if this ever happened and stuck around, some of the Great One’s records could fall. I’m not an NHL coach, so I have no clue how this would change particular strategies, but I’d definitely be interested to see what the best in the world come up with.

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