For all you hockey fans out there that have hated the insane standard to which the NHL has officiated the off-side rule, Christmas has come early. The league announced a significant tweak to Rule 83 on Tuesday, the rule that specifies what is considered off-side.
No, the league is not doing away with off-side reviews, unfortunately, but this may be the next best thing. According to the league, the plane of the blue line now extends upward off the ice meaning players will remain on-side even when their back skate is in the air, provided it has not yet crossed the blue line.
Per a statement sent out by the NHL, "A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with the blue line, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line. On his own side of the line shall be defined by a 'plane' of the blue line which shall extend from the leading edge of the blue line upwards. If a player's skate has yet to break the 'plane' prior to the puck crossing the leading edge, he is deemed to be on-side for the purpose of the off-side rule."
Previously, it did not matter how far back a player's second skate was. If his front foot was past the blue line and his back foot was lifted off the ice at all, he was considered off-side. This led to a bunch of infuriating coach challenges in which videos were paused to see if there was a pixel or a millimeter of air underneath a player's back skate which would draw a play off-side.
Props to the NHL for addressing this absurd standard. This may lead to more challenges trying to see if a player's back skate is still breaking the plane of the blue line, but it is at least a step in the right direction.