Teams Should Be Allowed To Challenge Penalties

Two Pump Chump – @BLTJay

Let me start by saying this: Get rid of the offside coaches challenge. PLEASE. PLEEEEEEEAAASSSSE. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to the NHL. It slows the game down, it takes away good goals that were in no way affected by a 1 mm offside play that has to be zoomed in, looked at for 5 minutes and then takes away a goal that went in 45 seconds after the fact. It is worse than the glow puck and the foot-in-crease rule (maybe). You can’t even fully cheer for a goal anymore because your mind is racing back to the zone entry to think about how close it was.

That said, I think it’s time the NHL adds more reviews.

Last night Deryk Engelland got called for a “trip” in the third period of a one goal game in the Stanley Cup Finals. The only problem was it wasn’t Engelland that tripped Nicklas Backstrom. It was his own player. Easy to see of course in this video:

The issue is that the way the NHL penalty system works. Once the call is made, that’s that. I’ve reffed, I know how it goes. You have a split second to make a decision, there’s no such thing as calling a penalty 5 seconds after the fact, and this whole process is pretty tough when the game is moving so fast. There have been times where right after I’ve made a call, I’ve thought “oh shit, that definitely was not actually a penalty, or what I thought I saw”.

So why don’t we try to fix it a bit? Obviously it will never be perfect, but there are ways to make it better.

For example, why not have a coaches challenge? But not for small, ticky-tacky was it a hold or was it not calls. I’m talking 100% conclusive “oh whoops that was definitely not a penalty” type plays like the call last night, or this David Pastrnak phantom high stick that has been haunting me for weeks.

These bad calls can completely change a game and a series, and there really is no reason for that to be okay. So give the coaches one challenge per game, for 100% conclusive calls. Maybe it is limited to stick infractions? But the risk for getting it wrong is another minor penalty, making it a full 2-minute 5-on-3 power play. That way, it won’t be abused.

Sure, it will slow the game down a bit, but once you get rid of the offside challenge, it will even itself out. To me, I would rather get this right, than an offside that if the linesman misses live, probably wasn’t a big deal anyways.

And I’ve heard this asked: but definitely no chance can you challenge non-calls that you think should have been one. You have to draw the line somewhere, and that is an easy line to draw.

I also get that this is a little extreme. The old-schoolers definitely aren’t going to like the idea. “The refs miss as many calls as they make, it goes both ways and evens itself out eventually”, they’ll say.


So maybe the solution is more like one the NFL utilizes pretty well: The call is made, if one of the 4 refs on the ice (or the ones watching up top) thinks there was a mistake made, they can have a conference, talk it out, and potentially “pick up the flag” as they would say in football, or reverse the penalty on their own accord. No coaches involved.

Surely, ONE of the 4 zebras saw that Backstrom was tripped by his own player last night. And if not, maybe they all miss it; no conference, no overturn. We’re still in the same spot as we are today, no harm, no foul. But I know they’ll be able to fix at least a couple calls a season for the better. And to me, that’s a change worth making.

So what do you think? Coaches challenges? Refs picking up the flag? Maybe something else? Or leave it the way it is. Let us know in the comments!