Week 5 – Offside Goal?

NHL Rules

Rule / Situation of the week

Be the Referee!!!

Welcome to our Rule/Situation(s) of Week!

Welcome back! This week’s column will feature Rule 83; off-side. Nowadays, every NHL arenas have multiples HD cameras everywhere in their building in order to be able to entertain all hockey fans with some spectacular images of the game. Although that technology is a great tool to sell the game of hockey and to provide a better experience for the fans, it has also bring to light the “human factor” of officiating, especially regarding the calls made at the blue line. Every NHL officials understand and accept this aspect of the game where all his decisions will be shown in “slow-motion” and analysed from several different points of view, all of them unobstructed as they sit above the height of the players. This being said, a few times every season, a replay might show a goal scored on a light off-side at the blue line that was waved off by the linesman. Linesmen are human, these plays happen fast and there’s a lot of elements to look at in a real-time “split-second” play at the blue line. This is why, the back linesman always tries to support his partner by moving up the ice as quick as possible towards his partner’s blue line, when the play allows him to do so, in order to make sure that the team makes the right decision on every plays. Although some off-side goals are allowed to stand, even with conclusive video evidence showing the infraction at the blue line, as this is not subject to video replay under the current rules, there’s also times where an apparent goal will be disallowed due to a off-side well after the fact! Let’s go over a first situation to demonstrate the above!



A Team B player in the neutral zone, shoot the puck into the Team A’s zone towards the net. When the puck cross the Team A’s blue line, a player from Team B is just inside the zone in an off-side position. The front linesman signal a delayed off-side as the puck continue towards the Team A’s goal. The player from Team B, that was in an off-side position, then clear the Team A’s zone which prompt the front linesman to drop his arm, nullifiying the delayed off-side. The puck then enters the Team A’s goal while there’s no more delayed off-side been signaled by the linesman. Is this a legal goal?


NO. If the puck is shot into the attacking zone creating a delayed off-side, the play shall be allowed to continue under normal clearing-the-zone rules. Should the puck, as a result of this shot, enter the defending team’s goal, either directly or off the goalkeeper, a player, the boards, the glass, a piece of equipment or an official on the ice, the goal shall be disallowed as the original shot was off-side. The fact that the attacking team may have cleared the zone prior to the puck entering the goal has no bearing on this ruling. In this situation, the next face-off will be conducted at the closest face-off spot in the neutral zone that gives the offending team the least amount of territorial advantage. Rule 83.4


Now let’s go back to our main topic which was an off-side goal! The next situation will demonstrate that there’s in fact a way to score a legal goal while being in an off-side position and all this covered by the rules!



Team A has pulled their goalkeeper. Team B dumps the puck into the Team A’s zone, causing a delayed off-side. While the delayed off-side is in effect and the Team B’s players are trying to clear the zone and are in no way pressuring Team A, a player from Team A passes the puck from the corner to the front of his net. The puck strikes a teammate in the back of the legs and goes directly into the Team A’s net. When the puck enters the net, the delayed off-side is still in effect. What is the call?


This is a good goal. The only time an attacking team can score a goal on a delayed off-side is if the defending team shoots the puck into their own net without action or contact by the offending team. Rule 83.4


See you next Monday!


Every Monday during the regular season schedule, we will explain in this column some bizarre or uncommon game situations/rules. Hockey is a particular game when it comes to the rulebook. Hockey officials need to know their rules but more important they have to know the interpretation and application of them! We will see in the next several months, in this series of articles, that a rule has sometimes two different applications depending on the situation that occurred on the ice. This is not the officials deciding on the outcome of the games here, by deciding to apply or not the rule, but is rather the interpretation and the application of that rule along with its intent that dictates the final decision made by the officials on the ice! This is not a column to promote or defend our officials but rather an educational tool for all hockey fans and hockey officials to acquire a better understanding of the game of hockey! So let’s start to see if you know your NHL rules! We will help you better understand some decisions made by NHL officials some nights and hopefully making you better “couch” referee!