The NHL tried to simplify its off-sides rule over the summer, but in the process appear to have only confused their own officials more. As a result, the Colorado Avalanche lost out on a critical point, or two, Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.

The league admitted Friday it bungled the call in what should have been a good Mikko Rantanen goal, which would have tied the Avs 4-4 with a little more than two minutes remaining. As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Friday, the league said the Blues should never have been able to challenge Rantanen’s goal because, well, there was never an official off-sides violation on the sequence that led to the goal.

Here’s the rub: aside from a few astute rulebook interpreters on Twitter, including BSN Denver’s own A.J. Haefele, nobody during the lengthy video review seemed to know the correct rule. That includes TV analysts, other media and, most important of all, nobody on the Avalanche bench.

No real fuss was kicked up by coach Jared Bednar or the players after the goal was disallowed, despite lots of time to watch replays that clearly showed Sven Andrighetto cleared the attacking zone and re-entered cleanly with the puck prior to dishing off to Rantanen. Andrighetto originally did accept a puck in off-sides territory, but as Note 1 of Rule 78.7 in the 2017-18 NHL Rule Book says, a play cannot be reviewed for off-sides when the player(s) successfully “tag up” before the puck re-enters the zone. Andrighetto and the rest of the Avs had successfully tagged up, but the goal seemed to have been disallowed based on the previous, wrongly assessed off-side.

Here’s another rub: Andrighetto WAS off-side when he accepted Nikita Zadorov’s pass. The play should have been blown dead right there. But under the strict interpretation of the rules, the play that was actually challenged should not have been eligible for the challenge, because THAT play was not off-sides.

Get it. Got it? Eh…good?

For the record, I reached out to the NHL’s “War Room” after the game Thursday night, hoping to get the kind of clarification on the rule that only came this morning. But the message wasn’t returned.

Here is Rule 78.7, otherwise known as Mud:

“The video review mechanism triggered by the Coach’s Challenge is intended to be extremely narrow in scope and the original call on the ice is to be overturned if, and only if, a determination is made that the original call on the ice was not correct. If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the original call on the ice will be confirmed. NOTE: Only one Coach’s Challenge per team per stoppage will be permitted. A team may only request a Coach’s Challenge to review the following scenarios: (i) – – A play that results in a “GOAL” call on the ice where the defending team asserts that the play should have been stopped by reason of an “Off-side” infraction by the attacking team.

(a) The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed. (b) If the result of the challenge is that the play was “On-side”, the goal shall count and the team that issued the challenge shall be assessed a minor penalty for delaying the game. (c) In the event a goal is reversed due to the NHL Situation Room (after consulting with the Linesman) determining that the play was “Off-side” prior to the goal being scored, the clock (including penalty time clocks, if applicable) will be re-set to the time at which the play should have been stopped for the “Off-side” infraction.

NOTE 1: Goals will only be reviewed for a potential “Off-side” infraction if: (a) the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again; or (b) all members of the attacking team do not clear the attacking zone again, between the time of the “Off-side” play and the time the goal is scored.

NOTE 2: If one or more penalties (major or minor) are assessed between the time of the “Off-side” play and the video review that disallows the apparent goal, the offending team(s) (and responsible Player(s)) will still be required to serve the penalty(ies) identified and assessed, and the time of the penalty(ies) will be recorded as the time at which the play should have been stopped for the “Off-side” infraction.”

Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • CaliMark

    I noticed it right away. They changed the check up rule several years ago. Of course the brilliant McBlabb and his equally clueless sidekick had no idea but Bednar or somebody on the Av’s bench should have caught it.

  • Max Power

    I understand mistakes happen but seeing as this was such a critical goal and what this comeback would have meant to the Avalanche going forward this season as well as winning some fans back with an incredible resurgence, this is just a bitter pill to swallow. all I could think of is the last game of the year last year when Boudreau of the Wild challenged a game tying goal as well. its a bummer but hopefully the Av’s can regroup and get back to work. I still dont understand why if Bednar was stressing how important this game was, why not start Varly? you have 4 days off btw the next game which would be plenty of rest and its a home game, Varlamov should have been in goal. no offense to Bernier cause I like him and think he’s good, but start your man at home.

  • Ryan James McManus

    So we get the Chicago call last year to not go our way and then we get this call to not go our way this year. If the NHL really wants parity among the league then they need to stop getting calls wrong for the teams that are continually low in the standings.

  • jack wright

    Sheesh, quit your damn whining Avs fans. What a misleading BS headline. He took the pass offsides & the lineman should’ve blown the play dead right then but he was blocked. Other lineman should’ve picked up his mate & blown the play dead. But because they missed it the ‘goal’ should’ve been allowed? Whatever. The play was offsides and everyone with eyes and A brain knew it. That’s why your coach and players didn’t complain.

    • Brandon Clark

      I think you’re missing the point. I don’t think there is and Avs fan out there that won’t say Sven wasn’t offsides. The problem is the NHL doesn’t know there own rules. Offsides calls get missed far to often and they should have called it initially but when they didn’t. Once the Avs re-established themselves the play should not have been reviewed. Toronto should have know that.

      • jack wright

        Well no argument from me that the NHL doesn’t seem to know it’s own rules. It’s getting embarrassing. This rule change particularly needs to be rethought. While I agree that technically Avs got hosed, it would’ve still been wrong to allow the goal because initial play was unquestionably offsides, some blues players later stated they stopped skating, expecting a whistle. Which of course you should never do until whistle but still a normal reaction. Maybe Toronto was making up for the goalie interference non – call??

  • jpwheels

    “Here’s another rub: Andrighetto WAS off-side when he accepted Nikita
    Zadorov’s pass. The play should have been blown dead right there.” I agree — it was a total whiff by the officiating crew.

    “But under the strict interpretation of the rules, the play that was actually
    challenged should not have been eligible for the challenge, because
    THAT play was not off-sides.” I don’t follow this. The part of the play that was challenged was definitely offside. That’s why the goal was disallowed. The reason Andrighetto being offside shouldn’t have been able to be challenged is because his offside didn’t directly lead to the goal. The entry O zone entry that lead to the goal was not offside because Andrighetto had cleared the zone.

  • Richard Lowery

    If the puck is cleared by whom ever, and the attacking team sends the puck back into the zone while an attacking team member is still in the zone, a “Delayed” off sides is signaled by the linesman. Once the attacking team clears the zone they may re-enter the zone with the puck. However, if the puck is touched by the attacking team inside the O zone before clearing the zone, off sides should be called. They say that the attacking player put himself outside the zone but he was the player who brought the puck out of the O zone. This by itself “Is Off sides. How is this not correct?

  • Tom Walsh

    “Andrighetto WAS off-side when he accepted Nikita Zadorov’s pass.” —-“First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each
    particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?”