NEW YORK – Hockey fans looking for the NHL to take advantage of video technology to prevent the Dwight King-type goals from Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final from exploding into controversy will almost certainly be disappointed. With the NHL’s competition committee meeting Monday and the league’s GMs Wednesday, there appears to be little appetite for using video review to resolve issues involving goaltender interference.
That’s because the power brokers in the NHL have come to the conclusion that even with video evidence, there is no guarantee of certainty. Of course there isn’t. But isn’t there a better chance you’re going to get a call right if you have the benefit of watching it on super slow-motion several times? And even if there’s disagreement among those watching replays, isn’t that superior to having just one look at it in real time?
Not according to the competition committee, a body that recommends rule changes and has equal representation from both players and team management. The committee met for five hours on Monday and while it’s likely that a coach’s challenge will be on the horizon after the GM meetings Wednesday, it won’t include goaltender interference. And that’s largely because nobody can agree on what goaltender interference is in the first place.
But here’s the thing. Hockey fans look to these people to show leadership on these issues. Is it fair that goaltenders get interfered with and often have no chance to stop the puck? Of course not. And we all know it’s happening, but it’s not an area of the game that is subject to video review. It’s difficult and it’s controversial and it’s full of potential landmines, but is that not what these people should be charged with navigating?
Mathieu Schneider of the NHL Players’ Association and member of the board, said it was a “split room” on the Dwight King call from Game 2, a goal that made the score 4-3 and was a pivotal factor in the Los Angeles Kings winning Game 2. The Rangers were liviid about the non-call by referees Dan O’Halloran and Wes McCauley and it could not be reviewed. So just because there can’t be a consensus on video replay, the league and players seem intent on staying away from it. There will likely be expanded video review for things like offsides, the puck going over the glass and the goalie playing the puck in the trapezoid, but not for the one thing that is one of the most controversial and impactful.
How much sense does that make?
“We felt in a lot of areas, it might create more problems than it would solve,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s executive vice-president and director of hockey operations. “How are we going to get it right without creating more problems? If we go there, it’s going to be a very different review to make.”
Schneider, who represents the players’ interests, was in lock step with Campbell on the goalie interference issue. “There’s an expectation of certainty (with video review),” Schneider said, “and we don’t have it right now.”
Among the other recommendations posed by the competition committee:
* Moving the hashmarks on the faceoff circles to the international distance of five feet apart from the 3 ½ feet currently used in the NHL. The thinking is it will give wingers more space to make plays and cut down on scrums.
* On icing calls, having only one centerman take the draw. After receiving one warning for a faceoff violation, that center will stay in the faceoff circle and receive a minor penalty for a subsequent violation. That should deter teams from having a player kicked out of the faceoff circle purposely in order to give his teammates more rest.
* Expanding the trapezoid from 18 to 22 feet along the goal line. That would give goalies more room to play the puck and give their defensemen some relief.
* Changing ends for overtime and having a dry scrape before the overtime period instead of the shootout. The thinking there is the long change might encourage more offense during the overtime period and cut down the number of shootouts.
* New guidelines for embellishment, something Campbell said, “We feel it’s out of control.” One proposal would attach penalties to coaches and organizations whose players dive and embellish.