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Two-minute penalty proposed for failed offside challenge

NHL general managers also want officials to call slashing near hands

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- NHL general managers on Thursday were considering recommending a penalty be called when a coach loses a challenge of a goal scored off a play that may have been offside.

The GMs would propose a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game instead of losing the timeout, as the current rule stipulates.

The rule change would have to be approved by the NHL-NHLPA Competition Committee and the NHL Board of Governors.

It would be only for a challenge of offside, and the coach would not have to be in possession of his timeout in order to challenge. There is no recommendation to change the rule for a coach's challenge of goalie interference.

The hope from the GMs' perspective is the potential of a minor penalty would reduce the times a coach uses his challenge to initiate a review for offside. There were 131 offside challenges this season, a 32 percent increase from last season.

"We got a little bit of flavor from the Competition Committee that they don't like the offside challenge, so we're trying to do something about it," NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said. "The players don't like the offside like the fans and media. So we're trying to temper it a little bit and take care of the obvious offsides, but the close ones, hopefully this will eliminate [the challenge]."

Campbell said 30 of the 31 NHL general managers supported the recommendation. The support is largely because the GMs feel the change would bring the offside challenge closer to its original intent, which was to correct a goal scored after the attacking team obviously gained the zone illegally.

As it is now, a coach, largely through the help of video coaches who are not on the bench, are challenging for offside when they think a skate blade might have been off the ice.

Forty-four of the 131 offside challenges this season were because of a skate off the ice. The hope is the penalty would make the coach less inclined to use his challenge unless he was certain the goal would be disallowed.

"It's a tough one," Campbell said. "The guys that are going to shudder are the video coaches."

The GMs also discussed encouraging the officials to be more vigilant in calling slashing penalties when a player uses his stick to hit an opposing player on or near the hands. This is not a rule change, so it doesn't need further approval. It is merely an encouragement for the officials to call the penalty more than they do now.

Campbell said the NHL Hockey Operations Department analyzed four Stanley Cup Playoff games, the Memorial Cup Final and the NCAA Frozen Four championship game and found that there were 60-110 slashes per game.

He said the NHL will have to create educational videos on slashing to show players, coaches and referees what will be acceptable and what won't be. It will also be imperative that the officials communicate to the players what is acceptable and not acceptable during preseason games next season.

"They're definitely serious on being more vigilant on slashing," Campbell said.

The GMs were informed that the Board of Governors approved two rule changes for next season during their meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday:

1) No timeout will be granted following an icing for the team that committed the icing infraction (Rule 87).

2) A neutral-zone faceoff will take place when a player on a team that has a power play strikes the puck with a high stick in the offensive zone (Rule 80.4).

Campbell said there was some pushback from the Board on the icing rule with the suggestion that a coach should be granted the use of his timeout in the last minute of a game if his team ices the puck, but that will not be allowed.

"We said that doesn't make sense because we've always been trying to [give] advantage [to the] offense and disadvantage [the] defense, so why would we allow the defending team to ice the puck and then give them a timeout to rest?" Campbell said. "That's not the point. The point is, we want to disadvantage the defending team that ices the puck."

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