NHL Referees Need Assistance with Expanded Replay

The Detroit Red Wings fell victim to another bad call — or in this case a missed call —against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Midway through the third period, with the game tied at 2-2, Danny DeKeyser was breaking out of his defensive zone and dished the puck to Henrik Zetterberg. Immediately after the pass, Carl Hagelin high-sticked DeKeyser in the face, with the referee standing right there watching the entire play.

DeKeyser was bleeding and left the game to get repairs, but he did return. Hagelin should have received a four-minute, double-minor penalty.

Here’s the play.

Again, this is not a rant about how NHL referees are terrible and should all be fired and replaced with new ones. Instead, I want to come up with a solution that will help the current NHL referees get the call right. The game is quicker and faster than it has ever been, and while the referees do get a lot of calls right, there are calls like this one they miss that shouldn’t be missed.

Penalty Rescinded

ESPN.com’s Katie Strang recently told of a story during the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins game on Oct. 30 in which a bad call was rectified. During the game, Jarret Stoll was sent to the penalty box for tripping Penguins forward Brandon Sutter.

However, the two officials huddled to discuss the call and immediately pulled Stoll out of the box. The penalty was wiped out. Obviously, feeling some sort of uncertainty, the crew huddled to discuss the play, realized there was a mistake and rectified it. What actually happened was Sutter tripped over his own skates at the blue line and collided with Stoll, who was then called with the penalty.

If penalties can be rescinded, why can’t they be enforced when they were not originally called? This is where video replay would come in perfectly.

The referees see DeKeyser is bleeding, they check the video to make sure it wasn’t anything DeKeyser did to himself or by a teammate and the penalty would have justly been given to Hagelin.

There has to be some sort of limitation to what can and cannot be viewed on video replay. Of course, anytime a call is missed, a coach will want the referees to look at the video. Just like in baseball, if you start to use video replay for balls and strikes, games will take four hours to complete, and nobody wants that.

Coach’s Challenge

I discussed a coach’s challenge a bit in reference to goalie interference rules. Again, coach Mike Babcock could use his coach’s challenge after he sees DeKeyser skate back to the bench with a towel over his face. The referees go back to the video and see he was high-sticked, and the right call is made.

It isn’t rocket science. Most everyone in the arena, and everyone watching on TV saw what happened to DeKeyser. Why did the four guys officiating the game not see it?

Just like how there must be limitations to what can be viewed, there has to be limitations as to what can or cannot be challenged. Possibly, each team gets one challenge per game. Even if the coach wins the challenge, he only gets the one per game. That would force coaches to use their challenges wisely and only in key situations that could determine the outcome of the game.

I hope the NHL strongly considers the use of expanded replay. The important thing is to get the call right, and I think every NHL referee would agree with that sentiment. Why not use technology that will help them do that?

Every scoring play and turnover is reviewed in the NFL, and the NHL needs to follow suit and take advantage of the technology it has.

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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.