After Wild embarrassment, kill off NHL offside coach’s challenge

Puck Daddy

Common sense is a hell of a concept.

The NHL didn’t always apply it to its video reviews on goals. There was always that lingering doubt about whether or not one could visually, unquestionably and completely see the puck cross the goal line.

That’s not necessarily the standard any longer.

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Witness the Nashville Predators’ goal against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 7, in which a Filip Forsberg tally was initially waived off but then that call was overturned on a War Room review, as they felt the puck completely crossed the line in Jacob Markstrom’s glove, despite only being able to make out about half of it inside his webbing.

“We don’t go with the old adage that you don’t have to see the puck itself. We’ve had situations where the puck has been between the goalie’s pads, and both pads are inside the goal line. Sure, we didn’t see the puck in the net, but it wasn’t outside the net,” said NHL President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, to Sirius XM NHL Network Radio on Wednesday.

“In a lot of cases, we have to use common sense,” he said. “If we don’t, it’s ridiculous.”

Speaking of ridiculous…

This was the (admittedly gorgeous) Zach Parise goal for the Minnesota Wild that was allowed to stand after a Chicago Blackhawks coach’s challenge on Wednesday night, despite everyone from Pierre McGuire to Mr. Magoo (no relation) plainly seeing the play was offside.

From the NHL:

Review was not conclusive in determining whether Parise had had tagged up at the instant the puck touched Charlie Coyle’s stick. According to Rule 78.7, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.” Therefore the original call stands – good goal Minnesota Wild. Since the Coach’s Challenge did not result in the original call being overturned, the Chicago Blackhawks forfeit their time-out.

Again, we revisit the dulcet tones of Colin Campbell on NHL Radio: “In a lot of cases, we have to use common sense. If we don’t, it’s ridiculous.”

Cases like this:

And cases like this:

The Blackhawks won the game in overtime, 4-3, to take some of the sting out of this. But the goal helped Minnesota pull a charity point out of it, remaining five points ahead of Chicago in the Central, a.k.a. the difference between the Nashville Predators in Round 1 and someone like Calgary.

Again, it’s “common sense” one night and “well ya couldn’t actually see the puck hit the tape” two nights later.

And the crazy part is that the NHL actually thought they figured out how to get these offside calls right!

They added two blue-line cameras to every arena this season that feeds directly to the NHL. No more trying to work the angles of a local TV broadcast’s cameras: These are ice-level, Hi-Def cameras.

“We now have the two best views,” said Campbell.

And yet …

So it’s further evidence that we need to kill the offside coach’s challenge.

Kill it now. Kill it with fire.

Human error is part of the game, and there are missed calls on every shift that help result in a goal. (And before you claim that something like interference is subjective and an offside is black-and-white, to that I’d say it’s all illegal.)

Goals should be a bigger part of the game. So the idea that you’re allowing their validity to be determined by a skate blade glancing the blue paint before the puck crosses – literally counting pixels – is dumbfounding. Through Jan. 26, we’ve had 62 coach’s challenges for offside, and 21 times the review took a goal off the board.

Now, again, sometimes these reviews are for obvious mistakes and sometimes they’re a matter of milliseconds; in the latter cases, that’s not in keeping with the spirit of the rule.

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“You want to use video replay to get egregious plays, not close calls where it’s 50-50. [Coaches] can live with some of the close plays that happen in our sport. It’s what make our sport so great. It travels so fast,” said Mike Murphy, NHL vice president of hockey operations, in Oct. 2015. “The reason we instituted it was so that we could get the egregious calls particularly right, ones that everybody alive sees and says, ‘This is the wrong call, it’s a screw-up.'”

Instead, you have situations like last night, itself a screw-up.

But instead of scrapping the coach’s challenge, the NHL is probably going to tweak it. Maybe throw some more cameras at it. Or something, as this will again be a topic of conversation at March’s GM meetings.

“There’s some discussion about ‘should we talk about breaking the plane now, and not the skate on the blue line or in the air,” said Campbell. “We’d get rid of 70 percent of the offside calls if we did that.”

Or hey, here’s an idea: Maybe just apply some of that “common sense” that was missing last night. Or just end this mistake.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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