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  • 03/02/2011, 11:32AM ET

Should NHL Adopt the Coach's Challenge?

baby jeebus (7-8-3) vs BM. (65-17-11)
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This season there was talk about implementing the coach's challenge in the NHL for unfavourable calls like they have the NFL. Should it happen next season?

Absolutely not.

First, they already have video review for questionable goals, and that works fine. No need to change that.

So what would the challenge be used for, poorly called penalties? Off-sides?
Penalties are subjective, it's not as clear cut as a puck crossing the goal line. What one person calls interference another would call...not interference..? And we can't have refs changing their calls when it comes to subjectivity, it has to be consistent.

Secondly, the only time the challenge would be used is if a 'potentially missed call' leads to a goal for the other team. Apart from the call itself being subjective, the question is when does a 'missed call' actually lead to a goal? Can a missed off-side in the other zone be the reason a goal was scored against you? This seems more like a 'get out of jail free' card.

In the next argument, I'll discuss why the challenge works for football, but would not work for hockey, if necessary.


I like the idea of the coach's challenge, but on a very limited basis.

I think the coach should get one challenge per game. If they lose the challenge, they lose their timeout. If they have already used their timeout, they don't get to challenge anything.

The ref wouldn't go and look in a TV monitor, it would be dealt with the same way goal reviews are dealt with: The War Room in Toronto would review the play.

There are several different instances that I can think of that lead me to believe that the coach's challenge would have made a difference.

1. Colton Orr blatantly interfering with the goalie and deflecting a shot off his skate and into the net. It was the game-winning goal. Had the coach been allowed to challenge, the play would have been reversed and a goalie interference penalty would have been called, thus changing the whole game.

2. High sticking penalties (2 or 4 minutes). I have seen on several occasions that a player was hit in the face by the stick of his own teammate, and the other team was given a 4 minute high sticking penalty. This is something that must be addressed. A coach's challenge would make the play right.

Out of room, MTC!!


So, goalie interference.

Again, that can be subjective, even on review. Often, when goalies cry interference, it's their own teammates that pushed the guy into them, in which case no penalty. Or, a guy might be bumped by someone and he'll take a fall into the goalie, claiming he was pushed. It comes down to personal opinion. Unless it's blatantly obvious (in which case the refs will call it on the ice), I doubt a review would make any difference. I'd also point out that goals that are redirected off skates is already reviewed if it's deemed intentional.

High sticking penalties: my first thought was, what about other penalties? Only certain penalties can be reviewed? What about hitting from behind, 10 minute majors, game misconducts. So there are bad calls, what about missed calls, are those reviewable?

There has to be consistency. If you can review one penalty, you have to be able to review them all. There are just as many questionable tripping calls as there are high sticking. And again, a coach will only use a challenge if a goal was scored against him, attempting to reverse the call. In which case, it's not so much about the penalty as it is get out of jail free.


"Or, a guy might be bumped by someone and he'll take a fall into the goalie, claiming he was pushed"

Maybe, but if the player skates over to the bench and tells the coach that he was pushed, the coach can challenge that play and have it overturned.

The point of the challenge is to give the coach the ability to have the refs take a second look at a play in order to determine whether or not the referee is correct. The coach or one of the players may have seen something that the referee missed.

"my first thought was, what about other penalties"

It wouldn't be limited to high sticking penalties. I was simply using that as an example because you see a lot more questionable high sticking calls than anything else. It could also be used to distinguish between boarding/charging/cross checking situations, because they are sometimes marginal as well.

Point is, the refs are not always correct. Everyone knows that. Bringing in the coach's challenge is not a perfect remedy, but it's a start. And really, what can it hurt? It will do a lot more good for the game than it will do bad.

Hell, they could even try it on a trial basis (one year maybe) and re-evaluate after that.


I just can't see reviewing penalties working. They don't review penalties in the NFL, they deal with bad calls. Roughing the passer is often one person's opinion over the other. You can't give refs the opportunity to change their calls just because the coach or the crowd doesn't like it, it compromises the integrity of the whole game.

If a player tells his coach he was actually pushed or not, doesn't change what the ref saw, or what the video camera shows. A refs idea of whether he made the right call or not will be influenced by a coach's challenge, or crowd response and have an affect on his review of the play. You can't have that.

If it's a matter of 'right' or 'wrong' like a goal or a first down, then it works. But if there is any grey area, like penalties, you have to make a call and stick to your guns.


"They don't review penalties in the NFL, they deal with bad calls."

You can't really compare the NHL and the NFL as far as this goes. The NFL chooses not to review penalties because the entire game would be full of challenges, not to mention the fact that penalties in the NFL are usually pretty obvious. Things happen in the NHL at a much quicker pace and refs can miss a lot more calls.

"If a player tells his coach he was actually pushed or not, doesn't change what the ref saw"

It absolutely can change what the ref saw. If the refs were never wrong, coach's challenges wouldn't exist in any sports.

"But if there is any grey area, like penalties, you have to make a call and stick to your guns."

Again, if this were the case, there would not be coach's challenges in any sports. Refs make mistakes. They know it, and we know it. Coach's challenges should absolutely be a part of hockey for that reason.

Crowd response is irrelevant and does not have any bearing on this argument. The crowd always complains when a penalty is called against their team.

In conclusion, coach's challenges should exist, but on a limited level.

Comment #1 has been removed
March 2, 2011  12:12 PM ET

Just curious.

How would you suggest they do this.

Would the ref get the time to go look at his own monitor/tv like in the NFL and make the call,or would they use the direct hookup to the head offices in Toronto,as they do now?

What's the time frame?

March 2, 2011  12:15 PM ET

What were the chances that a guy with some NHL td's to his credit would snag this?
Looking forward to right's arguments.

Goooooooo Flyers.

Comment #4 has been removed
March 2, 2011  12:22 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

If I see an NHL TD, I always take it, even if I agree with the other guy. I just like arguing hockey haha

True for me also.
Just have to learn to be quicker.Not enough NHL td's.

March 2, 2011  12:24 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Just curious.How would you suggest they do this.Would the ref get the time to go look at his own monitor/tv like in the NFL and make the call,or would they use the direct hookup to the head offices in Toronto,as they do now?What's the time frame?

not sure what the plan would be. it's all just talk, I don't think it will seriously happen next year.

March 2, 2011  12:43 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

True for me also.Just have to learn to be quicker.Not enough NHL td's.

you can always start them....

Comment #8 has been removed
March 2, 2011  12:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

In his defense, hockey topics are not easy to come up with...

Probably should say something mean here, but I'll hold off.

Comment #10 has been removed
March 2, 2011  02:21 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Go have a nice big glass of doe piss and think about what you were going to say.

oh dear,or is it deer?

Comment #12 has been removed
March 2, 2011  02:40 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

not sure what the plan would be. it's all just talk, I don't think it will seriously happen next year.

If this is something that is being considered/talked about on the NHL level, my assumption is that they would have to change the current system which reviews every questionable goal/no goal call in Toronto to something that is coach driven. Maybe the NHL is looking to cut down on stoppages in the game perhaps? Maybe they want to cut down on staff required to meet the current demands in Toronto? who knows...

March 2, 2011  02:41 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

True for me also.Just have to learn to be quicker.Not enough NHL td's.

looking for topics, how about why the flyers will win the cup this year. that would be my first pick. #2, boston bruins.

March 2, 2011  03:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

looking for topics, how about why the flyers will win the cup this year. that would be my first pick. #2, boston bruins.

because Crosby and Malkin are out for the year.

March 2, 2011  04:11 PM ET

You know the fact you are using Toronto and Florida to prove a point doesn't really help your cause.

March 2, 2011  06:38 PM ET

Unfortunately, other than puck over the line, most all other calls are opinion based. Even goalie interference. and like the NFL, you can't challenge a referee's opinion, i.e. penalties.

Even with video review calls don't always make sense. I submit the following.



Bray May's shot clearly goes in the net without Auld ever stopping or covering the puck. But the ref declared the play was dead because he blew the whistle or at least decided to blow the whistle before the puck crossed the line.

So, did he decide the play was dead when the puck was in flight towards the goal? Auld never had posession and no other player jammed the puck in the net. The puck immediately went into the net and they still got it wrong.

March 2, 2011  07:26 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

because Crosby and Malkin are out for the year.

ha, yeah I guess if crosby came back my picks might change, but I still think philly and boston have more depth

March 2, 2011  07:57 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

looking for topics, how about why the flyers will win the cup this year. that would be my first pick. #2, boston bruins.

are you talking about just the east? cause vancouver and detroit are both looking great out west, and sj is hot. I like Detroit over Boston, but i'm picking a Vancouver-Philadelphia finals (and NOT because they're the conference leaders)

 
March 2, 2011  08:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

If I see an NHL TD, I always take it, even if I agree with the other guy. I just like arguing hockey haha

i've been meaning to get more involved with TD's and been wanting to talk some hockey here, especially with the playoffs coming up i'm starting to get fired up...but alas, there never seems to be enough time to get them started...

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