Friday, November 4, 2022

Five ways to improve offside review if we can’t just get rid of it, which we absolutely should

There was a very dumb moment in the NHL last week.

Well, there were a few, because it’s the NHL, but the one I’m referring to happened in a game between the Golden Knights and Maple Leafs. A few minutes into the game, Phil Kessel scored a goal to put Vegas up 1-0. This was cool, because it was the 400th goal of Kessel’s career, his first as a Knight, and was also the game in which he tied the all-time ironman record. The building was rocking.

And then came the review. Well, that’s not actually true, because first came the now-required extended pause to think about the review, making sure the coach has plenty of time to squint at an ipad while everyone else stands around waiting for them to make up their mind. Then came the timeout, because Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs still weren’t sure. Then came the review, which went forever. The Leafs had challenged the play for being offside on the zone entry, a full 19 seconds before Kessel scored. There was no clear view that showed whether it was or wasn’t, but if you spliced together a few angles it looked like it probably was, by maybe an inch or two, for a fraction of a second, although it probably wasn’t quite conclusive if you were a Vegas fan.

Then, after an almost seven-minute delay had sucked all the life out of the building, the verdict finally came in: No goal.

Then the Knights scored immediately and the whole thing didn’t matter. Hot dog don’t lie.

I’m not knocking Keefe and the Maple Leafs for the challenge. It worked, after all, and they were just doing what teams are supposed to do in that situation, which is to look for any nitpicky detail they can find to get them off the hook for allowing a goal. But imagine explaining all of that to a new fan. Imagine them seeing all the excitement from Kessel’s moment, then telling them that a league that’s been starved for offense for 25 years and counting somehow feels the need to stand around for seven minutes to see if there was a way to make it go away. It’s madness.

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