The National Hockey League’s Board of Governors approved a change to Coach’s Challenges for Goaltender Interference that will now see reviews handled by the Situation Room rather than the on-ice officials. Previously, the referees had the final ruling on the play. The NHL Players’ Association, NHL Officials, and NHL Competition Committee approved the change last week.
The change will take effect beginning with the games played on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.
Rule 78.7 has been updated, with changes in bold.
(ii) Scoring Plays Involving Potential “Interference on the Goalkeeper”
(c) The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room (which shall include a former referee in the Officiating Department in the decision-making process), after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Referee who made the original call, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to “Interference on the Goalkeeper,” as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.
(d) The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “NO GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room (which shall include a former referee in the Officiating Department in the decision-making process), after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Referee who made the original call, determines that the goal on the ice should have been allowed because either: (i) there was no actual contact of any kind initiated by the attacking Player with the goalkeeper; or (ii) the attacking Player was pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending Player causing the attacking Player to come into contact with the goalkeeper; or (iii) the attacking Player’s positioning within the crease did not impair the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal and, in fact, had no discernible impact on the play.
The previous wording had the roles flipped, with the Referee reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the NHL Situation Room.
Per Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the former referees who will be included in the review process are Paul Devorski, Bill McCreary, Rob Shick, and Don Van Massenhoven. Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom can also step in.
“The recommended change is intended to help resolve the rare cases in which the situation room and the referees might have different opinions of a particular play and is intended to produce more predictability for our players and coaches,” said commissioner Gary Bettman.
So far this season, there have been 159 Coach’s Challenges for goaltender interference. Of those, 49 – nearly a third, at 31% – have been overturned.
“If you put all of [the general managers] in a room right now and watch these goals, I don’t think we’re going to come to a common understanding on what they are looking for,” Blake said. “We looked at some very difficult ones there at the GM Meetings. Maybe eight-to-10 … that are hard to have a common understanding of whether that’s in or now, because that is a judgement call. “But I do agree taking the next step here to Toronto, have a committee do it.”
“I think finally when you go to video, you can take that emotion out. It’s tough when you’ve got to go look at an iPad with 20,000 people, you have people yelling at you, and you’ve got to make a split decision. It’s difficult. The situation has a good set-up. It can go frame-by-frame, they can enlarge different things and look at different angles.”
“If you’re looking for more consistency, probably follow the same path as supplemental discipline. If you leave it to a committee, you might not always agree with the call, because it is a judgement call at the end of the day. But at least if you know there’s a group doing it, you’ll get a sense on how they’re doing it, so you’ll start seeing goals repeatedly and you’ll get a sense of how the call it, so I think that’s why the decision was made to move that to Toronto for the final say.”
“We’ll hopefully get the consistency, and then you won’t have the question from the coaches.”
This is extremely fast turnaround on a rule change by the NHL. The process flow may be the same – the referee will still contact the Situation Room – even if the final call is made by a different responsible party, which certainly facilitates the quick tweak. By implementing it quickly, the league is likely hoping to get some reviews handled under the new process prior to the start of the playoffs.
With fewer decision-makers involved in the process, will we see less controversy?
We’ll find out, starting on Wednesday.