NHL's stance on expanded video review has some holes


NEW YORK — Naturally, goalie interference was going to come up at the NHL competition committee meeting on Monday. A Stanley Cup Final game turned on the application of a particular rule, or lack thereof, less than 48 hours before, so the guys in charge of that stuff were going to address it.

The outcome of that discussion, for now, is not particularly satisfying — and that's a shame.

Colin Campbell and Mathieu Schneider, representing the league and NHLPA in a post-meeting media conference, did not sound particularly enamored with using video review to determine whether a goalie was interfered with on a particular goal. Their logic: When review enters the equation, "the expectation of certainty" follows, Schneider said.

That's fine with the committee on certain things, but ...

"Goaltender interference, I'm telling you right now, if we go there, it's going to be a difficult review to make," Campbell said.

They used Dwight King's goal in Game 2 of the Final, which cut the New York Rangers' lead to 4-3 and loomed even larger after the Kings came back and won, as the example. "I would say there was a split room," Schneider said.

"Two reasonable people looking at the same video (can) have two different interpretations, and goalie interference is certainly one of those (situations)," he said.

Campbell and Schneider both said the goal (and the expectation) is to get the call right 100 percent of the time.

"We've talked in our room in Toronto on many nights. We'll debate it ourselves. We'll disagree," Campbell said, bringing up embellishment and goalies playing deep in their crease as potential mitigating factors.

On a certain level, that makes sense — but the holes in logic are clear. Why presuppose that a process eminently capable of cutting back on mistakes is a net negative? Why say video review — constant replays, high definition, slow motion — makes referees look worse than they deserve, then opt out of providing them with that exact technology? And most of all, why expect 100-percent consensus from NHL fans? Short of "hockey is cool," that's not happening. Ever.

At one point, Schneider brought up how separate TV crews deal with controversial plays: "You've got two different opinions, two different announcers, looking at a play two separate ways." Aren't a lot of local TV crews comprised of the sorts of guys you'd want out of the process?

If you're not seeing the disconnect, look at the proposed plan in lieu of video review: Officials and players, over the summer, would get an education on what constitutes goalie interference. Schneider mentioned "the tell-tale signs" Brendan Shanahan brought up during his suspension videos. Exactly. There are tell-tale signs. After you teach them to the refs and players, teach them to the officials who'd watch the video review.

And while we're at that, doesn't Shanahan's (former) group work in gray areas, too? Do they get everything 100-percent right? No. They're still around, though, building consensus among themselves and generally doing good work. Why that's not an option with goalie interference — or other subjective calls, really — is tough to figure.

This is where we say that both guys, and the groups they represent, are dealing with a difficult, thankless task. The game is better for a lot of the committee's implementations over the past few years, and it'll keep getting better because of them moving forward. That said, this is a weird one.

Needless to say, there was no formal recommendation from the competition committee regarding video review, though general managers are likely to discuss using it for those aforementioned cut-and-dry situations: offside goals, puck-over-glass penalties and goalies playing the puck outside the trapezoid. The thinking is that coaches would get one challenge — and if they challenge correctly, they'd retain the right to use another.

Here are the other recommendations headed this week to GMs and, later, the union. Those groups will vote on said recommendations, which will head to the board of governors for ultimate approval or disapproval.

Embellishment enforcement. "We understand players try to draw penalties," Campbell said. "We feel it's out of control." They're looking at fines of players and/or organizations who are consistently on the wrong side of the law, but not suspensions.

The trapezoid. It's increasing by a total of four feet, which gives goalies more space to legally play the puck.

Overtime tweaks. Teams would switch sides after the third period, which means that "the long change" would be in effect. Defensemen would have to skate farther when they hope over the boards. There's evidence that suggests that leads to more goals. Also, zambonis would do a dry scrape of the ice after the third period, which would improve the ice.

Faceoff tweaks. Players would stand farther apart outside the circles, which would create more space for offense and cut back on scrums. After icing, players taking the faceoff who violate rules would not be allowed to leave the circle. That would cut back on wingers deliberately getting tossed out to buy their centers time to catch their breath. After a second violation, a penalty would be called.

All of those sound great. Video review on goalie interference sounds pretty good too, though.