Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman touched on a few ref-related topics in this week’s 31 Thoughts.


Slow Changes

Officials may be cracking down on teams trying to delay a faceoff, particularly after an icing with players required to remain on the ice after their previous shift.

11. NHL Hockey Operations said it would keep a close eye on teams that were guilty of “slow changes,” delaying the game when their players needed a breather.

Washington was hit with a penalty for it last Thursday in Edmonton. Officials felt they took too long after icing the puck.

Rule 63 covers delaying the game:

Play shall not be stopped nor the game delayed by reasons of adjustments to clothing, equipment, skates or sticks. For an infringement of this rule, a minor penalty shall be given.

A bench minor penalty shall be imposed upon any Team which, after warning by the Referee to its Captain or Alternate Captain to place the correct number of players on the ice and commence play, fails to comply with the Referee’s direction and thereby causes any delay by making additional substitutions (including, but not limited to, continually substituting goalkeepers for the purpose of stalling or delaying the game), by persisting in having its players off-side, or in any other manner.

Expect that every coach will be given a warning before getting hit with the minor penalty.  Situations that may have been handled with a bit more leniency in the past may now be more strictly enforced.


Unofficial Officiating Assistance

Friedman also hit on some ‘unofficial’ assistance given to the on-ice officials by way of video review.  The four on-ice officials may discuss the play and change the call based on a different official’s perspective of the play, but that discussion typically doesn’t include watching the scoreboard replays.

12. Over the years, we’ve seen some unusual help afforded to the on-ice officials.

There was Pittsburgh scoreboard freeing Sidney Crosby from a tripping penalty when it showed Johnny Oduya falling on his own stick:

There was Mike Babcock using bench monitors to convince referees that it was the puck, not Roman Polak’s stick, that connected with Jonathan Huberdeau’s face:

Monday night in Vancouver, the Situation Room and penalty-box official “helped” make sure Erik Gudbranson was properly fingered for high-sticking Zach Parise:

Technically, these are not the rules, but as someone who a) tends to ignore rules and b) believes in getting it right, I don’t have a problem with this. Canucks fans were upset this safeguard didn’t prevent Antoine Roussel from avoiding an undeserved high-sticking penalty Saturday against Pittsburgh. But one executive/conspiracy theorist hypothesized Monday’s assistance occurred for exactly that reason, because the league would have seen that miss and wanted to prevent it in the future. Cue the X-Files music.

Officially, penalties are not eligible for video review.  The rulebook calls out, in Rule 38.4, the specific scenarios that can be reviewed.

(i) Puck crossing the goal line.

(ii) Puck in the net prior to the goal frame being dislodged.

(iii) Puck in the net prior to, or after expiration of time at the end of the period.

(iv) With the use of a foot/skate, was a distinct kicking motion evident?

(v) When the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with the stick.

(vi) Puck deflected directly into the net off an Official.

(vii) Puck struck with a high-stick, above the height of the crossbar, by an attacking player prior to entering the goal.

(viii) To establish the correct time on the official game clock, provided the game time is visible on the Video Goal Judge’s monitors.

(ix) The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g. to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). For example (but not limited to), pucks that enter the net by going through the net meshing, pucks that enter the net from underneath the net frame, pucks that hit the spectator netting prior to being directed immediately into the goal, pucks that enter the net undetected by the Referee, etc. This would also include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play).

The officials and the league want to get the call right.  Replay was initially introduced – and later expanded – for just that reason.  There’s a slippery slope on how much the league uses replays, especially when used in an unofficial approach. Teams will want to know when replays may be considered, and, as Friedman notes, understand the situations when a replay wasn’t considered.

Getting the call right is important to everyone, but it’s a tricky balance with not turning into a league where every whistle results in a replay review.

Be sure to read Elliotte Friedman’s remaining 29 thoughts in this week’s 31 Thoughts over at