Does Video Review or a Coaches Challenge Hinge on the NHL Referees Performance this Post-season?
The NHL post season is approaching fast and most will agree that it wasn’t a banner year for NHL officials. I don’t think I can remember a season where the NHL referees have received so much criticism and have been under so much scrutiny. This has rekindled the argument for video reviews or a coaches challenges. Every couple of days or at least 2 or 3 times a week, it was not uncommon to see a controversial call or non-call from a NHL game replayed on the sports networks over and over. In fairness to the leagues officials it has been a tough season for them also because of the lockout shortened season. The league officials worked the same compressed schedule as the players and that hasn’t always provided the best performance by players or officials. Now in saying this the officials are going to be under even more intense scrutiny now the it’s playoff time. Every controversial call or non-call is magnified and dissected nightly on every post game show around the NHL. Fans often ask if it is so obvious why don’t the referees call for a video review and watch the replay to get the call right? In a perfect world that would make sense to most of us but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
The Following Plays Are Currently Reviewable:
1. did the puck completely cross the goal line.
2. net off moorings
3. expiration of time
4. puck batted in
5. puck kicked or directed in
6. goal where puck is contacted by stick above the crossbar
7. puck off of an official and into net
8. penalty shots and shoot-out goals
That is 8 different scenarios where video review are implemented so you can understand the leagues apprehension to add more. The current amount of video review has caused some small delays but as long as the call is correctly made everybody seems OK with a delay now and then.
Technology vs The Human Element?
Today we live in a high-tech world and we have all this wonderful technology at our disposal and I believe that if we have the technology why not use it to get the calls correct. Most hockey fans would agree that with the speed of the game the referees do a pretty good job of getting it right but why not give them a little help. It will be argued that you don’t want to take the human element out of the game and I can buy that. It will also be argued that you don’t want to slow the game down with needless video review delays and I can buy that. What I can’t buy is the age-old argument that this is the way it’s always been so don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. Based on all the complaining from fans and hockey executives I think it’s safe to say it’s at least partly broke.
NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell
“The GM’s were interested, they came out flying, they wanted to challenge the drop of the puck at the start of the game.”
I guess the part about video review that concerns the NHL is where do you draw the line and what kind of parameters do you set for what is review-able and what is not. This could be decided by asking the GM’s and Coaches to submit their wish list to NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell and go from there. I’m sure that the leagues officials would love to add their two cents also. Would it be the end of the world if a coach was allowed one or maybe even two challenges a game? I don’t want to see coaches using the video review as a ploy to sneak in an extra time-out or two either but I don’t want to see coaches being punished for losing a video challenge either. It’s not about punishing the challenger it is about getting the call right.
Zero Tolerance Or Open Season On The Goal Crease? What’s Worse?
It usually seems that most controversial plays seem to happen in and around the goal crease. Was it goalie interference? Was the player in the crease or was he pushed in? In my opinion this is still the rule or lack of a rule that frustrates most hockey fans. The league went from zero tolerance to open season on the goalie and the goal crease. The hardest thing for a NHL referee to decide in real-time is whether the player went into the crease area on his own or whether he was pushed in by the opposing teams player. This is where the video review could have its biggest impact.
Hockey is a fast paced game and sometimes getting a call right, even with different angles of video can be challenging. Imagine the immense pressure the two NHL officials are under every night. The pressure is even more intensified come playoff time where a wrong call could cost a team a championship, ask the Buffalo Sabres. I guess the questions for coaches, G.M’s and owners to ask themselves is do you want to take the game to the next level and give the on-ice officials as much help as possible and help end some of controversy. Or should they just leave things the way are now and only kick and scream when it concerns their team?
Will this playoff season make the cry for video review or a coaches challenge move to the front-burner or to the back-burner? Time will tell. I’m sure Colin Campbell and vice president of hockey operations Kris King will be watching intently.