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NHL rejects video review for high-sticking penalties, unfortunately

Greg Wyshynski
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Colin Campbell told the Canadien Press this week that the NHL won’t use video review on high-sticking double-minors this season, in an attempt to see if one teammate cuts another rather than an opponent. It reverses the competition committee’s decision, which isn’t something that happens often.

Why? Because instead of allowing the new rule to play out and have its nuances exposed and loopholes closed organically – as it does with every rule, from head-shots to spin-o-ramas – the NHL feels it needs to have every detail established before mandating replay for double-minor high sticks.

From Steve Whyno of the Canadian Press:

"We're punting right now," Campbell said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "We're going to watch it, we're going to talk about it and see how many times it happens. We just don't want to do something that we weren't totally comfortable with on video review. We want everything to be clear and precise, and we didn't think that was."

Campbell said New Jersey Devils President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello is the one who complained to the league that there’s too much unsettled law within the high-sticking replays. From the CP:

Campbell broached the possibility of a delayed penalty late in a game with the goalie pulled leading to a goal, and there was no consensus on what to do in that situation. "Sometimes you just got to be careful, just like with the high stick, that you don't lean on technical support too much when there's other issues you've got to get straight," he said. "The unintended circumstance there, it's clear with that one. We never even thought about that."

As we’ve noted before, it’s a rule that would have unintended consequences and unforeseen conundrums. But is Colin Campbell actually claiming that a rule that’s far overdue – using technology to overturn officiating mistakes that can alter the course of a game – should be delayed because the NHL couldn’t figure what to do in one very specific scenario?

Ugh. It’s cold feet, well after the innovation was met with widespread acceptance. Hopefully this is the NHL’s typical reluctance to innovation and not some hesitancy to spotlight the glaring mistakes of its officials. Because the latter is the kind of old-boys network decision one would associate with Campbell.

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