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NHL unsure on goalie interference and coaches challenge, suggests OT changes

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy
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Los Angeles Kings left wing Dwight King, middle, scores between New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, left, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden, during the third period of Game 2 in the NHL Stanley Cup Final hockey series in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

NEW YORK – Should goalie interference be reviewable?

The NHL’s competition committee met on Monday in New York and couldn’t come to a consensus on whether to recommend video review for goalie interference calls, either automatic reviews by referees on the ice or allowing for a coach’s challenge for interference.

The reason? Goalie interference is seen as far too subjective for there to be a definitive word on it via video review. 

“If you’re going to go to video review in a given area, there’s the expectation of certainty. And it’s just not there,” said NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider.

The general managers will discuss video review at their meeting this week, which could include offsides and puck over the glass plays. But the competition committee made no formal recommendation for expanded replay.

Colin Campbell, NHL VP of hockey operations, said that opening goalie interference to video review will make for “a very difficult review to make.” He said if there isn’t expanded video review for goalie interference, the NHL will go on an education assault on its game officials to get everyone on the same page on interference, and explore clarifying the rule.

“Since we changed the original rule of puck in the crease, perhaps it’s time to restate what goalie interference is. Re-educate everyone. Maybe even say ‘tie goes to the goalie’. If there’s any interference there, a penalty’s called,” he said.

So the argument from the League is that goalie interference is a subjective call, and hence any ruling via video review would also be subjective.

Which would be a fine argument were it not for the existence of the Department of Player Safety video reviews, which serve the same function as a goalie interference calls would: Taking a play that 10 people could all see differently, applying the criteria of the rulebook and coming to a reasonable and definitive conclusion about what happened on the play.

But it’s clear that expanded video review in the NHL may at first be limited to cut-and-dry calls like offsides and puck over the glass or in the netting. The question is whether the coaches will be the ones to initiate it or if the league will add these plays to the goal reviews they already manage in the War Room.

Other items discussed by the committee, which included NHL players and NHL team front office personnel.  

* The committee made two recommendations for overtime in order to juice scoring and avoid shootouts. The first is a dry scrape of the ice at the start of overtime, to make the conditions for favorable for shooters. The second is to change ends in overtime i.e. create the “long change” that we see in the second period, traditionally the highest scoring period of the game.

* Rather than eliminate the goalie trapezoid, the competition committee recommended that it be expanded by two feet on either side of the goal line for a total of four feet, in order to allow the goaltenders to help their defensemen play the puck more often.

“The idea of expanding it was to try and allow goalies to help their defensemen get out of danger zones,” said Schneider, a former defenseman.

* The competition committee suggested that the hash marks for faceoffs in the offensive zone be moved from 3.5 feet apart to 5 feet apart, which is the Olympic standard. Part of this is cutting down on scrums off the draw, and part of this is creating more time and space for forwards to make plays.

* The committee suggested that on icing calls, if a player taking a faceoff has a violation and then gets “kicked out” of the circle, the player will be assessed a two-minute delay of game penalty. This has been a tactic used to create more time for defensive teams to rest after being forced to remain on the ice after an icing.

* On embellishment, the committee discussed alternative punishments from the current model, which would include a warning and financial penalties for the diving player AND his coach and organization. “We think it’s out of control,” said Campbell on embellishment.

* The committee, on the recommendations of general managers, looked into a more “lenient” ruling on kicking the puck, allowing for more pucks directed in by skates to count as goals.

* Finally, the coaches’ challenge was debated. One popular plan had coaches getting one challenge tied to their timeout. It was successful, they keep it. If unsuccessful, they’d lose it.

The bottom line for these recommendations: The NHL wants to increase goal scoring and isn’t sure if it wants to increase headaches caused by video review.

The League’s general managers will meet this week and make recommendations on the Competition Committee’s suggestions. And rules changes must also be approved by the NHLPA.

The committee included GMs like Ken Holland, David Poile, Don Maloney, Peter Chiarelli and Flyers owner Ed Snider; as well as players like Mike Cammalleri, Ron Hainsey, Daniel Winnik, Kevin Shattenkirk and Cory Schneider.

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