The NHL’s general managers have come to a decision regarding the issue of coach’s challenges for goalie interference and the NHLPA is on board.
The goal is consistency, which is why the general managers recommended that the final say regarding goaltender interference would rest with the Situation Room in Toronto.
“The players want consistency in the application of the rule, and therefore support this proposed change in order to help accomplish that goal,” said NHLPA special assistant to the executive direct Mathieu Schneider said.
At the moment, the final call regarding goaltender interference has rested with the on-ice officials. They confer with hockey operations about the call, but they’re the last line of defence.
The change would flip the final decision to hockey operations, with a retired referee added to the mix to help with the calls.
Having a centralized location should help the issue of consistency and would give ultimate blame and responsibility to one place.
The issue will now be kicked to the board of governors, at which point it’s likely to be passed and implemented as early as this year’s playoffs.
“The objective is to be as close to perfect as possible,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “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.”
There have been complaints about the level of consistency throughout the season, with players and coaches voicing concerns about the current process of defining goalie interference.
At the All-Star break, Bettman mentioned that officials may have been “overthinking” the process and the league subsequently sent a memo to the teams defining the issue.
But the fact remains that there will always be a layer or two of subjectivity with respect to these calls and getting them right is a matter of degree. The NHL still believes in the process and coach’s challenges aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
And the controversy over missed or blown calls will remain, too, as long as human judgement and error is part of the process.