The National Hockey League finalized rule changes regarding the coach’s challenge and goalie interference Tuesday.
The changes were initially recommended by the NHL’s general managers and will impact Rule 78.7 (ii) Coach’s Challenge – Goaltender Interference.
The changes will be implemented as of Wednesday.
Starting with the games Wednesday, the league will assign a former referee to the Situation Room in Toronto for all NHL games. On coach’s challenges over goalie interference, the NHL will still consult with on-ice officials but will have the final say in the call.
The NHL is hoping that having a smaller group of people making these decisions will aid in finding that ever-elusive reliability. This addresses the biggest complaint regarding coach’s challenges in the first place, which is the lack of consistency.
The rule change describes the standard for overturning a goal on the ice as taking place after reviewing “any and all available replays” and “consulting with the referee who made the original call” on the ice.
Conversely, overturning a no goal call will also involve the review of “any and all available replays” and “consulting with the referee who made the original call” on the ice. They will subsequently determine that the no goal call was erroneous due to the existing regulations.
Either way, the hope is that a glut of evidence and consistency down the process will aid in providing a standard the NHL can maintain throughout this year’s playoffs.
There’s always a risk in implementing a new rule change during the season, let alone this close to the post-season, but there’s nothing in this that should really impact things that much.
Don Van Massenhoven, Bill McCreary, Paul Devorski, and Rob Shick are set to be the referees working in the Situation Room, by the way. It’s expected that the league will add more to that number in the off-season, with Stephen Walkom eligible for the post this spring.