The most asked question in the NHL.
As a hockey fan, and in addition to that I'm a fan who lives in an area where there is very little or even no exposure of the population to this wonderful sport called hockey. Well, what I have found to be the hardest for the new/casual fan to grasp is the concept of "off-side."
So that's going to be the subject of this post.
First off, here's that handy link [ Rule 83 - Off-side ] to the NHL's official rule. For those of you who, like me, are insatiably curious and have to dig into the details.
Now, the basics -
83.1 Off-side - Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone.
Sounds pretty simple, huh. Yea, right. Try doing it on skates, out there on that rink. Not so easy. (and these guys are professionals).
Some things to remember, when watching to see if a player is off-sides.
- It's the skates that matter, not the puck or the stick, when determining off-sides.
- It's off-sides if he had possession of the puck when he crossed the line even if he loses the puck immediately after
- If his skates cross the line, but the puck doesn't, it's NOT off-sides.
The Offside "freebie" -
"If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue."This is the explanation for why there are those "argh, you can't score passing backwards" moments you see when you're watching a game. (I know I was crazy frustrated, until I finally got a grip on the fact, that they were avoiding an off-side call.)
This is by no means, everything there is to know about this subject. But I hope it helps someone out there become a little more comfortable while watching hockey. (and as always, if I messed something up, corrections [without insults] are always appreciated).
[LATE EDIT by Teri]
You might want to note that there is an instance when the attacking player MAY precede the puck into the defensive zone and not be offsides - if he is the puck-carrier and has control of the puck.