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NHL GM's Approve Coach's Challenge For Goaltender Interference And Delay Of Game

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Come over here, I've got a challenge for you
Come over here, I've got a challenge for you
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

Tuesday afternoon in Boca Raton Florida, the NHL General Managers voted 29-1 in favor of allowing a coach's challenge in the NHL next year. This is a pretty big shift in opinion among a group who vetoed the same or similar proposal 28-2 just 4 years ago. The NHL Players Association still has to approve the proposal before it can be adopted next season, but it sounds it has a lot of momentum and support.

The coach's challenge could be used only in 2 circumstances.
  1. Goaltender interference on scoring plays. Penalties aren't up for challenge, only goal or no-goal calls, and the judgement will be made in review based on goaltender contact, not whether a player was in the crease or not. The referees will still make the final call, but they'll have the advantage of video review and discussion with Hockey Operations in Toronto to re-evaluate their on ice call.
  2. Delay of game calls when the puck goes over the glass. A coach's challenge can only be used to try to get a delay of game puck over the glass penalty removed, not to have one called.
A coach only has one challenge per game that he can use and he must have a timeout still available in order to use a challenge. If the coach has a timeout left and uses his challenge and the ruling is in his favor, he keeps his timeout, if he's deemed "incorrect" and the on ice call stands, he loses his timeout. So not only does a coach only have a maximum of 1 challenge per game, he better be sure, or willing to lose the opportunity to rest or regroup his team at a crucial time later on over it. There is still ongoing discussion about whether or not to allow a coach to challenge  a call in the final minute of regulation if he's already used his timeout for team reasons (not a coach's challenge). During overtime, reviews can by initiated by the situation room without a coach's challenge being made. Goaltender interference can be incredibly difficult to determine even with review, and during a game it's even more difficult to determine when you only get one look at it and you also have to watch everything else that's going on in the game. I imagine Tomas Holmstrom throwing Swedish Meatballs at his TV or radio when he hears about this.

Some people are concerned that coach's challenges will delay the game, extending its length, and causing an interruption to the flow and possible losing some fans interest. In reality, I don't think each coach having a single challenge (if they haven't already used their timeout) is going to cause much of a delay in the game. It usually takes less than a couple minutes for the referees to consult video and converse with Toronto and come back with a final call. Since we're only talking about a goal or no-goal call, it's important enough that taking even a couple minutes per game (it's not going to be every game, but I'm looking at the "worse case scenario") is worth it to make sure the best call possible is made. No matter what the final call is, someone is going to be upset and think it's the wrong call, but this provides the opportunity for a second look in key situations. Ken Holland said it's the opportunity to make the "better call", not the perfect call. Hopefully this new rule would also help reduce the number of no-goal calls when goalies *cough * Carey Price *cough * do sneaky shiznit to get called back. This could potentially have a noticeable impact on players whose job it is to walk the fine line between legally screening a goalie and crossing the line and interfering.

Would a team be more likely to be more aggressive with an opposing goalie if they know the other team's coach doesn't have a challenge left? Eh, I doubt it. A goaltender interference penalty will still be called real time like it usually is, although the referees may have to pay closer attention to calling such a penalty if a team or player is trying to take extra advantage of a goalie.

The details still have to be worked out and the NHLPA has to sign off, but I like the proposed coach's challenge, and limiting the circumstances and number of challenges so they don't get out of control. I don't want to see reviews and delays like they have in football.

The Delay of game- puck over the glass penalty is one of my top two hated penalties in the NHL, along with the penalty for a goalie playing the puck outside the trapezoid, and delay of game usually happen at the most inconvenient times. In real time it's often difficult to see which team's stick or player the puck went off of before going out of play, and it's often in a key situation (tie game, overtime, penalty kill, etc...) that a player gets rushed or panic and tried to flip the puck of danger. If the coach is fairly certain his team was wrongly penalized, he can challenge the call and the referees will go to video review to see if the call is correct or not. This penalty seems to be damning to a team far too often, especially for a penalty that's so stupid to begin with. If  challenged, this call will be reviewed and ruled on by the situation room in Toronto, not by the on ice officials. Good on the GM's for including this in the coach's challenge.


So, what do YOU think?