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Push for NHL coaches’ challenge for controversial calls gaining momentum

Greg Wyshynski
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When I argue for the coaches’ challenge option in the NHL, it isn’t because “the game is just too darn fast these days,” as goes one of the standard rallying points for the cause. It’s because on-ice officials have the same lapses in judgment and flights of incompetence that they’ve always had, only now we have the technology to check-and-balance them accurately and efficiently.

Since the officiating this season has been incredibly substandard due to the lockout, the glaring need for coaches’ challenges has become apparent.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon’s proposal for a coaches’ challenge died on the vine in 2011. At least one NHL GM, Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, has reconsidered it.

From the Globe & Mail:

“I’m more open than I was when Dale Tallon brought it up,” Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Sunday. “The big thing in our game is goals, so we have to try to make sure goals are right, that we’re not scoring goals on offsides or maybe goalie interference.”

... With today’s technology, every decision by the referees and linesmen could be subject to video review. However, the main concern with the GMs is the game is already subject to enough momentum-killing television timeouts and cannot stand much more. “The problem is, if you try to take human error out of this we’re going to slow down to a crawl,” Holland said.

The coaches’ challenge is the happy medium between over-saturation of replay in the NHL and the logical application of replay to get critical calls right. Any concerns about “slowing the game to a crawl” will be alleviated if the NHL limits to challenges to specific calls only: Goalie interference, high-sticking majors, offside calls that lead to goals.

In addition, they should be limited to one per game; and to prevent both teams using the option every game, a challenge that’s overruled results in a 2-minute minor for delay of game for the team that threw the flag.

Hell, it makes more sense than minor penalties for pucks over the glass …

The GMs meet in Toronto on March 21, and hopefully this is given serious consideration.

The technology is there to have these calls made quickly, either in the arena or in the War Room. Limiting them would keep from the NHL having the tedium of the NFL’s continuous video reviews.

There’s no reason not to have coaches’ challenges in the NHL in 2013, unless it’s out of concern that the on-ice officials would come off more feeble than they already do.

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