Bettman: The notion that we call back a goal because there’s a toe over the line — the rule is the rule. And I have no doubt that if we didn’t get it right, that the toe was over the line, there would be a lot of screaming about the fact that we got the call wrong.
So if you think back to the Tampa game, where everybody was focused on that offside call, the fact of the matter is everybody in Pittsburgh would’ve been screaming if we didn’t get the call right. Whether or not we use video replay, there are so many cameras that television has that they get to see.
And so, the better question may be: Do you want to have an offside rule? I’m not advocating that we should get rid of the offside rule, but the notion, ‘well, the rule was only violated by a little.’ Either you enforce the rule or you don’t. And if you don’t get it right, and we say, ‘oh, it was only over a little,’ then the other team and its fans and everybody watching the game is gonna say ‘well, how are you enforcing the rules?
As much shit as I give Gary Bettman I do so while knowing that his job is not easy. The decision to implement more cameras and start closely looking at plays that were potentially offsides was one that I am sure was a long time in the making, but having seen that decision play out I think most hockey fans would tell you it was the wrong one. Not because we - as a viewing audience - don't like rules upheld to the best of their ability, but because we only want them upheld to the point in which it doesn't detract from the viewing experience. I think you would be hard pressed to the say that the exorbitant amount of time that has been dedicated to making sure infractions - that may or may not have had an effect on important goals - get called by the book hasn't been detrimental to the flow and the rightful outcome of playoff games.
Now, in the sense that you are never going to appease everyone on any given play, Gary Bettman is correct in essentially saying that someone is always going to have room to bitch. I just think he choose the option that would undoubtedly lead to more bitching. Sure, there are blatant offsides plays that went uncalled and cost teams games in the past, but they were few and far between. These ticky-tacky calls (like the one above) that are decided by one touch of the toe after being zoomed in on time and time again by a high definition camera wouldn't have led to "screaming" in the past because no one would have known any better. The choice to closely review them, and re-review them, re-re-review them was made, and now every single situation that's even relatively close to being illegal is under close, monotonous scrutiny that brings the fast paced action of postseason puck to a slow, tedious crawl.
To simply say that "you either enforce the rule or you don't" is factual untrue, because the league has survived - without too much controversy as a matter of fact - loosely calling offsides to the best of their ability for years. Of course you'll always issues with human error when you are talking about a lineman's instinctual call. However, it's less of an issue than leaving the fans stuck picking their ass for five minutes at a time wondering what the actual score of a game is when we should be glued to the edge of our seats by the continuation of the end-to-end action that makes playoff hockey so exciting. Gary Bettman was undoubtedly in a lose-lose situation, but - while understanding that this is in retrospect - he clearly took a bigger L than he needed to.