January 25, 2010
Cheap penalties, bushels of turnovers, endless replay reviews, protracted overtimes ... remind us again why the NFL gets about 10-times the viewership of the NHL? (Oh, that's right: People can follow the ball easily on television. That must be it.)
The overtime between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints was like being caught in the seventh level of "booth review" hell, in which seemingly every play was given a second glance. It's a miracle the game-winning field goal was allowed to stand without a referee under a hood to ensure it wasn't an optical illusion.
Many NFL fans believe replay is a necessary evil, slowing the game down to a sleeping snail's pace while making sure the correct call is made. (Much less evil on television than in the stadium, mind you). NHL fans feel much the same, although faith in the Toronto "War Room" has plummeted thanks to some baffling decisions and allegedly isolated cases of chicanery.
Calls to expand replay are always controversial, and CBC Sports' contributor Elliotte Friedman offered a tantalizing new option this weekend that's causing a stir: Instituting a coach's challenge for certain plays. (Find an earlier discussion about it on the CBS Sportline boards, of all places.)
There was an incident in a game on Jan. 19 between Montreal and St. Louis when Habs' defenceman Roman Hamrlik(notes) was called for delay of game. Some replays indicated the puck deflected off a stick before going into the crowd, which should have negated the infraction.
Those are the types of plays the league might consider using the challenge for, Friedman said. Teams would receive one challenge per game, and they would lose their timeout if they were wrong. If the team had already used its timeout, it would receive a delay of game penalty.
Love it. Absolutely love it. Love it for the pucks off the netting that referees miss. Love it for the delay of game penalties the referees get wrong on split-second deflections, like the one that affected the Montreal Canadiens. Love it for bang-bang icing plays late in a game that refs miss. Heck, we'd take it one step further than the NFL: What about challenging five-minute high-sticking majors that a coach suspects may have been caused by an opponent-on-opponent accident? Restrict the coaches' challenges to that specific major penalty; it could work.
Longer games and on-ice officials with decreased power? Sure. But the point it that if we're going to have a replay system, then use it to get the calls correct. So what say you?
Pass or Fail: Allowing coaches' challenges in the NHL for replay reviews of controversial plays.