The NHL Board of Governors is meeting in Florida this week, and the hot topic has been goaltender interference reviews. They were supposed to also discuss how teams (not mentioning any names) are using their injured reserve list to handle roster situations. They don’t seem to have gotten to that, but today, they have come to a decision on how to handle the increasing levels of controversies over the interference reviews.
How we got here
The NHL introduced two forms of video review in 2015 on a coach’s challenge: one for a goal scored after an unnoticed offside play, and one for a goal scored when the goaltender had been interfered with.
No one has ever really addressed the separate, but related rule that assesses a penalty for goaltender interference. Sometimes. That photo above was a penalty call, not an overturned goal. And recently when the Leafs played Pittsburgh, they got the rare two-fer when a goal was overturned and a penalty was assessed to Brian Dumoulin. Penguins fans were not impressed.
That’s only one of many controversial goalie interference calls lately.
At the Board of Governors meetings last year, the GMs were concerned about the off side rule, as that was the thing that had most people fed up. Not just with the time delay that ruined the flow of the game, but with various aspects to how it was implemented. They decided everything was fine.
Last summer, they rethought that belief in the status quo and instituted a change that assessed a minor penalty to the coach who issued an off-side challenge that was not successful. This season there have been fewer off-side challenges, but no change was made to goaltender interference challenges.
Now, after a failed attempt to address all the controversial calls by clarifying the rules to the referees, the Board of Governors is prepared to act with haste to change who has the final word on what is and is not interference.
The new system
This is not quite official yet, but the rubber stamp is a formality. The NHLPA has to discuss it with their members and then the deal will be struck.
The rule change would shift final determination on goalie interference away from on-ice officials to the NHL Hockey Operations Department, which would include a member of the NHL Officiating Management Team comprised of former referees.
The hope is the rule change will be in place by the end of the regular season. It first needs approval by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee.
The proposal by the GMs makes no changes to the standard under which goaltender interference is judged, and includes no changes to the criteria governing whether on-ice calls should be overturned.
This process is to be put in the hands of a now-retired referee in the situation room in Toronto.
Bettman said one retired referee can’t be there every night. So belief is the six current referee supervisors will rotate through the Situation Room: Don Koharski, Paul Devorski, Rob Shick, Mick McGeough and Don Van Massenhoven.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 21, 2018
But while this takes the job away from the on-ice officials, who are being tasked with second-guessing themselves, it does not involve changing the rule, nor is there any indication that goalie interference in general will get called as a penalty more often.
There is already speculation that the idea to add the penalty for unsuccessful challenges, which was shot down at this meeting, could still happen.
As we have speculated, a logical next step could be a penalty for lost goalie interference challenge. Has cut offside challenges in half.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 21, 2018
With a timeline for the end of the regular season, we go into the playoffs with a new system, but not a radical change.
Fans already have started conflating the idea of “going to Toronto for a review”, as many broadcasters put it, with some sort of Toronto bias that is out to get their team. It’s like the city itself is sentient and plotting their doom. And that’s absurd. It’s the Leafs that are out to get you.
Sometime in June, the NHLPA will have to decide on how much they want to agree to for the so-called inflator. They usually agree to a fairly high percentage, so the lowest number is unlikely.
GMs were told that expansion draft rules will be the same as Vegas if Seattle is added.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) March 21, 2018
This is now confirmed. And no one seems to think it will be long before the “if” isn’t needed in that sentence.
The rules are covered here if you’ve forgotten them: