By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at


Officially Speaking - Monthly MailbagThe Monthly Mailbag is six months overdue, but as always, there have been too many important issues affecting us veteran hockey referees that demanded journalistic priority. Still, I’ve been promising to squeeze the Mailbag in, so here it goes.


Dear OS: I saw you at a tournament last spring. Can you please explain the intentional offside rule once-and-for-all for shots on goal. Lots of us were questioning it in the stands. Thank you.

OS: I like your civility. Unfortunately, lots of refs get the rule wrong. In fact, the decision on intent must be made at the instant the puck crosses the blue line per Rule 630(c).

Here’s the rule:

Anytime, in the opinion of the official, a player has created an intentional offsides play, play shall be stopped and a faceoff conducted at the nearest end zone faceoff spot in the defending zone of the offending team. (Note) An intentional offside is one which is made for the purpose of deliberately securing an immediate stoppage of play or when an offside play is made under conditions where there is no effort made or possibility of completing a legal play.

Let’s get this clear: An offside shot on goal must always be shut down, BUT it’s not an automatic intentional offside unless the criteria for intentional offside applies to the particular play. (USA Hockey Casebook, page 297, situation 42). The only issue is whether the shooting player attempted to make a good play at the blue line, not the location where the puck is shot. Now it’s up to you to pass the word around in the stands.

Dear OS:
I pay big money for my kid to play Squirt silver. So you really ticked me off when you gave his teammate a two-and-10 for checking from behind and then sent my kid to the box to serve the minor. He wasn’t even on the ice when the penalty was called. Response?

OS: You know what FACT-CHECK means? It’s kind of like probable cause underlying an accusation. Guess you missed that lecture in advanced criminal procedure. Look, it was your own team’s coach that sent your superstar to the penalty box. And you know why? Try checking Rule 404(a). Here’s the skinny right from the book:

A player is assessed a non-coincident minor or major penalty in addition to a misconduct or game misconduct penalty. Who must serve the minor or major penalty?

Any non-penalized player, except a goalkeeper. Rule References 404(a).

Got that? It does not have to be a player from the ice in this instance. So your beef is with the coach, not me. But if your kid’s a chip off the old block, then guess what? I like the coach’s style. My advice? Sign your kid up for house league.

Dear OS:
As a veteran ice hockey official, I want to thank Let’s Play Hockey for running this column. It’s the only outlet I’ve ever seen that fairly portrays us longtime hockey officials. I feel I have a voice through you and on behalf of my fellow referees, please keep this column going.

OS: If I decide to run for public office in 2016, you’re my campaign manager. Please write back with your name. And NO, this information will not be sent to your local supervisor of officials.

Dear OS:
I saw you in Chicago last month and I thought you guys did a great job on that Catholic League JV game. What happened?

OS: Guess you didn’t stick around to watch our men’s “Rec” league game right after.

Dear OS:
Thank you for exposing those “illegal” eight-hour seminars. I’m a veteran from Illinois and I’m hoping our referee-in-chief gets the message. I also want to thank that ref from Minnesota who contacted you. Will you follow-up in the column?

OS: Absolutely. Look, the main reason for OS is to publicize the gritty truth of amateur hockey officiating. National Referee-in-Chief Dave LaBuda made it perfectly clear that anything longer than three hours classroom time was solely a local decision. Unfortunately, your local RIC never bothered to respond to my inquiry, so the burden is on you Illinois guys to take the issue to the top. I’ll be here to back you, or any referee from any state. Except my current state. See, here, the RIC treats the local officials with the utmost respect, and the difference between your seminars and my seminar is nothing short of stone-age vs. digital. Nuff said.

Dear OS:
Saw you at the Ice Center when you reffed my kid’s PeeWee game in the Can-Am tournament. What’s with the delayed offside in the first period? Almost cost us a goal. I drove from Phoenix for this?

OS: You do know this place is called the “entertainment capital of the world.” No one said anything about it being the “officiating capital.”

Dear OS:
I don’t know where you came from, but your Tuesday night “C” calls are 50 percent wrong. I’ve already complained to the administrator.

OS: Fifty percent? Do you realize that guys I know play a complicated craps hedging system and even then, the house still has a one-tenth of one percent advantage. And you’re beefing over even money? Advice. Quit the “C” league and spend your Tuesday nights at the Arizona Charlie’s progressive quarter machines on the north wall near the escalator. Fifty percent goes a long way there.

Dear OS:
That quick-whistle column was the best ever. I actually carry it in my bag because that scenario happens all the time. Can you also do a piece on shots hitting the inside of the frame and ricocheting right back out? Happens a lot in my games.

OS: What kind of piece? It’s obvious that if a league pays a pair of vets $45 to “manage” a JV game, that same league is not about to fork over $2,500 for second-rate video replay systems above the goal frames. Sure, the NHL has four salaried guys, five camera angles and a half-dozen eyes up in Toronto. It’s like I say out here when the ricocheting thing happens in our nightly beer leagues: “What, you want me to call up to Carson City for review?”

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Reprinted with permission.