The use of the coach’s challenge option feels exhaustively long to fans, players, and people involved with the game of hockey. The NHL might be looking to correct human error with the use of a coach’s challenge for video review, but some reviewed video might need some closer looks. Already a month into the season with new rules, some kinks will have to be worked out (as expected).
Saturday night, Alexander Ovechkin’s game-tying goal was waived off because Justin Williams had interfered with Leafs’ goaltender James Reimer. The reasoning outlined by the NHL Situation Room revealed that “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3, and 69.4. Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Washington Capitals.”
When comparing the interference on James Reimer by Justin Williams to the interference by Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, they are two identical plays. October 30, the referees indicated that there was no goal because there was no goaltender interference before the puck crossed the line. Take a closer look at Boone Jenner.
Rule 69.4 states “Contact Outside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.”
When James Reimer is interfered with, his right pad sticks out of the blue paint.
When Braden Holtby is interfered with, his left pad sticks out of the blue paint.
These very similar plays show the inconsistencies of the coach’s challenge. Two goaltender interference plays, driven by the attacking player without incidental contact that are incredibly similar should not be ruled differently. That does not mean that the NHL needs to build a time machine, go back to October 30 and correct their ‘mistake.’ In the future however, the league could compare plays as part of the decision process. Is the attacking player in the crease, interfering with the goaltender, or is the attacking player outside of the crease, interfering with the goaltender? The decisions are subjective, but should not produce two plays that are eerily similar, but judged differently. Let’s hope that we won’t get opposite calls in the playoffs.
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Pictures from screenshots of YouTube videos.