Buzz: Coach’s Challenge Coming To NHL?

Last night’s Devils-Jets game was subject at least one call the officials definitely got wrong — a disallowed goal in the third period that featured Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey grabbing the puck and throwing it out of the crease during play. The Devils eventually gathered the puck and fired it into the net while goalie Ondrej Pavelec, but the officials blew the play dead before the puck reached the net. The play happened without the Devils down two goals and roughly six minutes left on the clock in the third period and you can hardly blame the Devils for being upset — or the officials for missing the call in the spur of the moment. However, on replay, the grab and throw was clear as day and the Devils should have at least received a power play for their trouble. If only there were some way to make sure situations like that are resolved in the future. Oh wait, there might be? You don’t say!

Via David Shoalts of The Globe & Mail:

The change in attitude probably came with the growing sentiment you hear behind the scenes now, that the game is too fast for the officials to call properly. This is not an indictment of the referees and the linesmen, simply the realization that the rule changes of the past eight years designed to speed up the game have done their job too well along with the players’ dedication to training and fitness.

With today’s technology, every decision by the referees and linesmen could be subject to video review. However, the main concern with the GMs is the game is already subject to enough momentum-killing television timeouts and cannot stand much more.

“The problem is, if you try to take human error out of this we’re going to slow down to a crawl,” Holland said.

The most popular solution appears to be what Tallon suggested back in 2010 – give each coach one challenge and limit it to goals. If an offside goal is scored or a penalty was missed just before a goal then it can be reversed.

Corey Griffin

Would the new “rule” as currently presented change last night’s non-goal? No. Would it have given the Devils a power play? Nope. But is it a step in the right direction? Absolutely. Look, the game is really, really fast these days and no matter how much these referees skate or train, they’re going to be behind on plays and sometimes those plays are going to be scoring plays. There needs to be some sort of check and balance to their officiating and this is the first step. Keep in mind the alterations the NFL’s challenge and replay rules have undergone since their inception. While coaches had to use their challenges on all plays to start, now an independent replay official automatically review all turnovers and scoring plays from a booth in the stadium. I use this as an example just to show that this first step is crucial and much like any other rule, the NHL will evaluate it after a few years and figure out ways to tweak it and make it better.

Now, the main concern when talking about coach’s challenges or any sort of additional replay review immediately is time. How much time will the challenge process take? How long will the video review be? Will the games get longer and if so, how much longer? These are all legitimate questions and honestly, there’s definite answer without experimentation. I don’t expect we’ll suddenly be looking a three-hour games, nor do I think the replay review will take an absurdly long time on most plays. There will be the occasionally lengthy review that has Twitter awash in “What’s taking so long?!” anger tweets, but those are balanced out by the comments along the lines of: “Oh, wow. I didn’t see that the first time around.”

The bottom line with challenges or expanded review is that it will help get scoring plays (and eventually other things) correct the second time around when the refs on the ice aren’t enough. And isn’t that what we want?