Topic: The NHL Coach’s Challenge: Is the process worth it for ensuring proper rule enforcement or does it cause to much disruption to the flow and enjoyment of the game?

Jahn: Totally acceptable. Even if it only fixes one mistake, it’s worth it.

Mich: No. Human error adds to the atmosphere and the process takes away from it.


My Thoughts:

I did a mid season piece on coaches challenges where I  essentially said keep the offside challenge but scratch the goalie interference challenge (NHL Coach’s Challenge Isn’t Worth It). The reason is one is black or white. It’s either the puck crossed the line first or it didn’t. Except in circumstances where only the lack of camera angles or a blocked view make it inconclusive, there’s a RIGHT and a WRONG. It also takes less time because there’s only one thing to specifically look for. The goalie interference is too vague. Was the goalie prevented from making a save? Was the contact caused by outside forces? Who initiated it? Those are just some of the questions and none of them are easy so they take a looooooonngg time to answer. Not only that, but mostly they come down to opinion. So why don’t we take the opinion of the guys at ice level being paid to have one?

Having said that, I’m torn between both of your arguments.

On Mich’s side I’m a human error guy as well and hate depending on technology. A calculator is only as smart as the person using it. You still have to know what to solve for. I’m ok with reviewing very definitive things such as a puck crossing the line or the offside. But interference? What’s next? Challenges for high sticking penalties? Hits from behind? Hooking? Do we review TV angles in the moment to see whether a high stick actually made contact with a face(T.J. Oshie incident vs. Pittsburgh), or to confirm head contact or hits to the numbers (Kris Letang incident, Brayden Schenn incident)? All of these make a potentially huge impact on a playoff series. How do we draw the line on what’s review-able? Apparently that line is drawn when the puck actually crosses the line because only plays resulting in goals are review-able. More on that when I get to Jahn’s side.

I also think the process disrupts the flow of the game to an unacceptable level. How many times have we seen a goal scored and you want to celebrate and get lost in the moment. You start cheering only to see the officials talking it over. They head to the penalty box and you’re thinking, OK, what’s going on here? There’s a lot of talk and even more replays. You’re still hopeful but your excitement is fading. Even if it’s still a goal, by the time they  point to centre ice it’s like, who cares anymore? There’s a token cheer as we try to show appreciation for a goal that happened 6 minutes ago.

On Jahn’s side, I really get frustrated when things are needlessly not right. As a coach there’s nothing worse than an obvious missed call you can’t do anything about. I can distinctly remember a couple of times when I was behind the bench where a team has blatantly entered my team’s end offside with no whistle and I mentioned to the linesman “anything that happens from now until we clear the puck is your fault”. It’s exactly what the challenge is saying and I would have loved to have had one. But like I said, the thing is only plays resulting in goals are review-able.  Sometimes a weak offside call that gets blown down is potentially just as crucial. What if your team has a 2 on 1, or worse yet, a breakaway, and the official wrongly blows it dead before the scoring chance plays out? How come we can’t challenge that? Either we’re worried about them being wrong or not, but right now we only care some of the time and that’s not fair either.

I guess then it comes down to why we’re putting the rules in to begin with. With the NHL so (wrongly) worried about the lack of goal scoring league wide, why put the process in place to make it easier to take goals away? I know some reviews could potentially also lead to a goal counting that was originally called back, but not the majority of the challengeable ones. A correctly called offside is blown dead on the spot so there’s never a goal to contest, and an incorrectly allowed goal will almost always be taken away. The only offside challenges that result in a goal being allowed are calls that were never wrong to being with. Therefore the offside challenge can only result in less goals, never more.

The bottom line is in some ways you’re both right. But I think one line in your podcast basically decided the entire matter. You both agreed that everyone has a point where they would eventually say enough challenges is enough. That statement automatically makes them a flawed idea.

Winner of week 34: Both

Listen to TLO Podcast episode 34 here: The Rule Of Tools


One thought on “Response to TLO Podcast Episode 34

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