NHL decides against expanded video review

Posted: June 11, 2014

NEW YORK - When Major League Baseball contacted the NHL for advice prior to installing in-game video reviews this season, NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell offered a word of warning.

"We said, 'Get ready, because it's not easy,' " Campbell said. "They aren't easy, these things. There's all kinds of complications to video review. There's lots of controversy."

Controversy, it turns out, is what is making hockey - the professional sports gold standard for instant replay - pump the brakes before implementing another form of technology in the game.

After 5 hours of deliberations, which included Flyers chairman Ed Snider, the NHL's competition committee will not offer a recommendation to review goals impacted by goaltender interference, offsides or kicked pucks. The committee also decided against a recommendation of an in-game coach's challenge for controversial goals.

Yesterday's news was particularly timely, given Dwight King's comeback-kindling goal in Game 2 for Los Angeles in which he bumped Henrik Lundqvist.

The competition committee - which includes Snider, Detroit GM Ken Holland, Phoenix GM Don Maloney, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, Nashville GM David Poile and five NHL players - decided against expanded video review because of the subjective nature of plays. Strangely, the league's player safety department dishes out suspensions and fines based on similarly subjective video.

Campbell said he sat down with Hall of Famer Brett Hull, owner of the most controversial Stanley Cup clinching goal from Dallas in 1999, for a video review of goals that were kicked into the net.

"At the beginning of the conversation, he said, 'This is easy.' We showed him about 25 of them," Campbell recalled. "He said, 'This is really hard.' "

What made Hull change his mind was the same thing that swayed the competition committee yesterday: the ability of a singular video to split a room's opinion.

"I think the underlying fundamental here is that if you're going to go to video review in a given area, there is expectation of certainty once we decide that. And it's just not there," said NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider. "It's very difficult. There's still a ton of gray area."

Some examples of subjectivity Campbell mentioned included the debate of: whether defensemen pushed players into the goaltender; whether the puck was already past the goaltender at the time of the interference; or even whether the goaltender is embellishing.

When it comes to scoring plays that may have been offside, a whole other set of questions presented themselves.

"How much time?" Campbell asked. "[Does the goal need to be scored within] 5 seconds? Is it 10 seconds? Change of possession? On the rush? What if a minor occurs during that time and goal was scored but the play is offside? Does the minor come [off the board]?"

So, for now, Craig Berube will not have any laundry to throw on the ice. Despite their protestations, coaches will not have the ability to challenge scoring plays that may even divide the opinion of the four on-ice officials.

"The more you talk about it, the more you realize how many complexities actually go into video review," Schneider said. "Once we go to video review, there's an expectation that we're going to get these calls right all the time. We're not at the point that we can get meaningful video review that would have a 100 percent outcome."

Slap shots

One recommendation Snider's competition committee did make was to lengthen the goaltender's trapezoid behind the net. This will allow more space for goaltenders to play the puck and provide relief for defensemen pressured by attacking forwards . . . Another recommendation approved is a dry ice shaving prior to overtime in the regular season, as opposed to before the shootout, to try to increase scoring. Teams will also switch ends after the third period to create a "long" line change in an effort to avoid more shootouts . . . Any changes for next season must be approved by the NHL's general managers and then the board of governors . . . Newly minted Flyers GM Ron Hextall will attend his first-ever general managers' meeting tomorrow in Manhattan.

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