NHL coach’s challenge gets GM approval, with concerns

NHL coach’s challenge gets GM approval, with concerns

BOCA RATON, Fla. – There will be no red flag tossed onto the ice. There will be no white towel waving from the blade of a stick, a la Roger Nielson. 

“We’re not going to do something fancy like throwing a flag or setting off fireworks,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

But if the competition committee and the board of governors approve the recommendation the general managers made Tuesday, the NHL will have a coach’s challenge for the first time next season.

It will be available in two instances: goaltender interference on scoring plays and delay-of-game calls when the puck goes over the glass.

In the case of goalie interference, the challenge will cover only goals and non-goals, not penalties. It will be based on contact with the goaltender, not crease presence. The referees will still use their judgment and make the final call, but they will look at video replays and talk to the hockey operations department in Toronto.

In the case of delay-of-game calls, a challenge can only remove a penalty, not call one. The hockey ops department will overturn a penalty call if video replays are conclusive.

A coach can challenge a call only if he has a timeout available. If successful, he keeps his timeout and can challenge again. If not, he loses his timeout. Reviews will be automatic in overtime.

(There is still some discussion about allowing a challenge in the final minute of regulation if a coach has used his timeout for strategic reasons.)

Using video review to judge goaltender interference is a major shift for the NHL for two reasons:

-- The NHL has been concerned about delaying games. Bettman said the league has had 140 instances of goaltender interference this season, maybe a dozen that have been controversial and only four or five that should have been reversed.

“We don’t want everything being reviewed,” Bettman said. “Overwhelmingly the calls are right. We only want it done in an egregious case.”

-- The NHL has been concerned about using video review to make judgment calls because of the expectation of certainty.

“You’re not going to get complete satisfaction on a judgment call,” Bettman said. “There’s can only be differences of opinion. And that’s a far different process and standard than whether or not, for example, the puck crossed the line.”

The league came up with a new standard and a new term.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be for those few occasions during the year when it’s pretty obvious to everybody that we need a better call,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

“We’re calling it the ‘better call,’ because there’s some gray to it. It’s not perfect. It’s the better call. It’s an opportunity for the on-ice officials to talk to Toronto, for the referees to look at a monitor, be in communication. If they think they need to overturn and come up with the right call, the better call, then they have that ability.”

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon was thrilled about the coach’s challenge.

“It’s about time,” Tallon said. “I got voted down, 28-2, four years ago, and today it was 29-1 in favor.

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)