Expanded Video Replay in the NHL a Terrible Idea
This time it's the "Coaches' Challenge," the brainstorm of Dale Tallon. The Florida general manager concocted this proposal about 10 seconds after his team lost to Toronto two weeks ago. In the game, Colton Orr of the Maple Leafs crashed into Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen, while the referees stood silent and Toronto scored the winning goal. The fiery Tallon will be back in Toronto on Tuesday, this time tabling his idea at the NHL General Managers Meetings.
May Tallon's idea never see the light of day. The "Coaches' Challenge," in essence a one-per-game option of risking your team's timeout to dispute a goal, is a lot more complicated than it may appear on paper.
For all of the hue and cry about long delays and inconsistent angles, video replay -- as currently implemented in the NHL -- works. The reason why is simple: because it is simple. Replay is used exclusively to determine whether a goal is a goal -- if the puck crossed the goal line, was deflected legally or entered the goal before the end of the period.
If all Tallon wants is to give head coaches the opportunity to call for a goal review, his proposal is pointless. As we have been told for years, every goal scored is reviewed by officials in the hockey operations office in Toronto. If what Tallon really wants is for coaches to have the ability to dispute blown rulings on the ice like the one that cost him the game against the Maple Leafs, forget about it.
The last thing the NHL needs to do is open that can of worms.
Tallon's initiative is unwieldy. He wants to give coaches the right to sacrifice their one meaningless timeout each game to dispute one call a game on "goal-related plays" (See: Orr, Colton). In other words, coaches could make the Toronto office look at interference and other uncalled penalties that might have led to a goal.
This is a deal-breaker. I'm reminded of what the late, great New York Giants general manager George Young used to say when the NFL was considering video replay: "I'm a big believer in the notion that, the more people are involved in a decision, the more likely it is to get messed up."
Since Tallon first went public with his idea for the "Coaches' Challenge," I spoke in person or over the phone with more than a dozen NHL head and assistant coaches. Although I'm strongly against the idea, I expected the majority of coaches -- who live and die with every goal in one of the least-secure jobs in all of pro sports -- to be in favor of having some say. I was dead wrong. A few of their responses:
"And have the league make us do their jobs for them"?
"Sorry. I've got enough on my plate. Now I have to officiate the game"?
"Going to replay to look for interference will cost me as many wins as it will help me. It's just another headache our league doesn't need."
There's nothing wrong with Tallon starting a discussion. Just don't expect it to get anywhere. Hopefully by the end of the season, the Panthers will be on the winning end of a missed call and Tallon will realize his rule could have lost him the game.