Starting this season, 2015 – 2016, the NHL will introduce the coaches challenge. If you are hoping to see NHL refs “under the hood” checking the replay to get the play call correct and coaches throwing red flags out on the ice that is not what your are going to get.
Coaches will be able to challenge goals, for or against them. It will also be specific; was there an off-sides or goalie interference on the play? So if a goal is scored and the refs wave the goal off due to goalie interference the team who scored coach could challenge the play. On the flip side if a goal is scored and not waved off, but there was a potential goalie interference the coach whose team was scored against can challenge the play. The other scenario would be if the scoring team was off-sides and then scored, that could be challenged.
A coach can only challenge if they still have their time out. Just like the NFL if they win the challenge they get to keep their timeout. If they lose the challenge they will lose the time out. The difference between the NHL and the NFL is in the NFL each team gets 3 time outs per half, so coaches might be more willing to make a challenge in the NFL. In the NHL teams only have one challenge.
It is great that goalie interference is now being reviewed. It seemed the Bruins had a bunch of goals waved off because of goalie interference last year. One in particular that I can think of is a Matt Fraser goal that was waved off. Fraser fell down in front of the net. The rebound popped out and went off the Spoked B on his chest and went in the net, but he slid into the goalie. Replay showed that he touched the goalie after the puck was past the goalie and going into the net. It should have been a good goal but last season that play could not be challenged so the call remained no goal.
To see the Fraser disallowed goal click here.
Another example that I can think of is in the Stanley Cup final this year. I am not sure what game, maybe game 2, but the Blackhawks scored. Marian Hossa was in front of the net working the screen. The shot came through, but Hossa’s stick was under the pad of Ben Bishop, and it prevented Bishop from making a kick save. It was called a goal, but it should have been a no goal due to goalie interference.
Overall I think this is going to be good for the NHL, but I just do not see it being used as much as you may think. It is going to depend on the situation. If it is in the first period of a regular season game I do not think the coach would be willing to challenge and lose his time out unless it is blatant and he will win the challenge. If it is a 50/50 call I do not see the coach challenging the play. Now if they are in the third period in a close game then it might be worth it. It all depends on how much the coach values his one timeout because they often aren’t used that much. I can see the coaches challenge being used more in the playoffs when the games are more important and the margin of victory is smaller. This is just another tool to make sure the the call is correct and that is always a good thing.