USATSI_8199802_154158418_lowresThe National Hockey League is inching ever closer to the coach’s challenge.

The joint NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee said on Thursday that it had recommended the use of challenges for “goals that may have resulted from goalie interference or offside plays.” The recommendation will now have to go through the NHLPA executive committee and the board of governors before it’s passed as a rule.

There are some particulars.

Calls that involve goalie interference will be decided on ice level by the referees, but calls that involve offside plays will head to the situation room in Toronto.

The challenge can be used for both goals and goals that were waved off for particular reasons, at least in the case of goaltender interference.

It should also be noted that asking for a coach’s challenge will cost the team a timeout, so these will have to be used rather economically. There are some questions to be asked about whether or not the timeout will be spent on a successful challenge, but has to assume that it’s gone regardless. The league in no way wants people overusing the coach’s challenge and slowing the game down to a crawl.

One has to imagine a “delay of game” penalty could come into play if the call is deemed frivolous, but that seems a tough angle to enforce. One also has to imagine different rules in the playoffs, where games go longer and timeouts are more necessary.

Either way, this is good and will be good if implemented and used effectively. There will be some transition time, of course, but for the most part the NHL has been lacking a rule like this for a while now.

The NHL/NHLA Competition Committee had other recommendations too, including a change to the faceoff rule that dictates that all faceoffs in the defensive zone must see the defensive player put his stick down on the ice first. This is a rule recommended by the one and only Ron Francis, who seems to know what he’s talking about in terms of faceoffs.

There was also some talk about changing the overtime format to a three-on-three situation, but there’s no consensus in terms of that adjustment.

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