Tag Archives: Officials

Re-evaluating The Re-evaluation

When you sit down in the comfort of your own home and tune into an already-in-progress sporting event on television you expect a couple of things. For starters you expect to be entertained, enthralled, and emotionally invested. However, through the process of instant replay you can probably add confusion to the short list of expectations featured above.

How many times have you watched an NFL game and sarcastically joked with your friends or family “I guess I don’t know what pass interference is anymore”. Or in the NBA “I guess breathing on him is a foul now a days”. Well, begrudgingly I can now add the NHL to that less than fabled list, because I no longer know what is or is not a good goal anymore.

In the playoffs especially, the officials are there more as representations of the rule book, rather than the brute enforcers of the law. However, this may no longer be the case as the speed of the NHL playoffs and its bizarre relationship with the officiating have hit a fork in the road.

Prior to the 2015-16 season a brand new rule was implemented, allowing the head coach to challenge whether or not a goal should count. Now, there’s criteria that needs to be met, the goal has to have resulted in a questionably offside play by the attacking team, or a missed goalie interference call.

Albeit their mind was in the right place. When you consider time and time again questionable goals from years prior didn’t receive the attention they deserved.

Exhibit A: Blatant goal tender interference.

Exhibit B: Famously textbook offside play goes uncalled, for whatever reason.

Now it should be noted that both of these situations are examples where having the ability to challenge the play would have paid off in spades. This is not always the case. In fact sometimes perfectly good goals are wiped off the board for an infraction that had nothing to do with the end result of the play. I am, of course referencing offside calls. Nothing, and I truly mean nothing brings a perfectly good game to a sketching halt more than an unnecessarily lengthy review searching for the slightest inkling of an offside infraction.

Exhibit C: Goals being taken away well after the infraction only hurt the game.unnamed

Furthermore with the years of experience that comes with being an NHL official, one that is presumably well versed in the updates that come with the rule book. Wouldn’t you be able to come to the conclusion that JG Pageau undeniably covers the puck in the crease preventing a goal in over time of a playoff game? Need I remind you, that is in fact frowned upon and should have resulted in the very least as a delay of game penalty not to mention a penalty shot.

Image result for jg pageau covers puck in the crease

Apparently not, as neither of those calls came to fruition. This came after it was reviewed by the officials. Despite the lack of transparency one former official weighed in his take on the play.

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On top of that, Noel Acciari whom appeared to have scored to end the game earlier in overtime. Later he sat dumbfounded when the goal was taken away due to a fluky goaltender interference call. The review process lasted around 5 minutes.

I’ll admit this as dramatic an example as there is. Loopholes in the rule book can be found in rare situations in sports. But one must wonder has putting every play under a microscope helped or hindered hockey?

While there was plenty of good that came with the inception of this new rule, its also caused its fair share of  damage. Perhaps allowing a coach to possess too much power over the game. In return causing the officials to question their judgement and rely on the grace of instant replay far too heavily.

According to the NHL Public Relations twitter account on 4/30 we’ve had 19 games this playoffs that needed overtime to determine a winner through 50 games played. During the entirety of last seasons playoffs just 20 games needed overtime through 90 games played.

In a league whose major critique of themselves is a lack of offense, they appear to be doing a lot to maintain the status quo. Much attention needs to be diverted to this rule in the coming off season, to the benefit of the sport itself.

You cannot allow a questionably offside play, upwards of 30 seconds in the past rule out a perfectly good goal on the ice. Especially when the major concern of the league is finding a way to manufacture more offense.

The NHL dug themselves into this hole, it’s up to the to pull themselves back out again.

There are Alternatives to Fighting, Just Not in the NHL

Take it all in, you’re witnessing the official divorce between the NHL and fighting. While it may not come as a shock to some, it’s become blatantly obvious to most.

For the Boston Bruins, looking specifically at last nights game in Buffalo, Sabres tough guy William Carrier caught David Backes at a vulnerable angle. As the unwritten hockey law goes at the next stoppage in play, Adam McQuaid seeked out Carrier to instigate a fight.

Once the gloves came off, two officials darted into the fray in a lackluster attempt to separate the two. However, in doing so they allowed Carrier to land multiple solid hits to McQuaid’s head before it was broken up. Which brings up my next critique, what was the point?

If the idea was to protect the players from themselves, why wasn’t Carrier penalized more for his free shots at McQuaid? The result was a power play to Buffalo, which is beyond head scratching. To me, the message that was sent to players was “if you’re locked up with the officials just get an arm free and continue to whale on the defenseless player”.

While the intention may have been justifiable in some sense. I can’t understand why in a similar situation earlier this month in Montreal officials didn’t step between Torey Krug and Brendan Gallagher.

No doubt in both checks would lead to extra curricular activity there was head contact. But with Boston’s match up against Montreal, the officials didn’t interject until both players hit the ground. So wheres any form of consistency? Players are sticking up for themselves because that is how hockey works.

I would have absolutely no problem with that type of behavior from the officials if it was a league wide mandate. Which clearly it’s not. Otherwise, it should be noted that as early as November of 2015-16, fighting was reportedly down 40% league wide. A trend I would imagine has only increased since then.

Line brawls are unnecessary and staged fights are soon to be ancient relics with players like Matt Martin and Shawn Thornton representing the last of their kind. With an added attention to increased scoring, made evident by having some of the best players in the league not even eligible to consume alcohol.

Regardless of the increase of speed, finesse and scoring one thing remains. The causal hockey fan watches because its level of violence is higher than the other major sports. Similarly to how the casual baseball fan doesn’t like to watch a pitchers duel, they want 450 foot home runs every evening.

On the other hand, concussions and deaths related to trauma suffered while playing in the NHL has become a living nightmare. But when you have two players who aren’t strangers to engaging one another I say if it’s mutual, let them go. It’s only when a player gets jumped that I take issue with fighting. Something that hasn’t been seen in a noticeably long time.