Coach’s Challenge in the NHL: Yay or Nay?

The Coach’s Challenge was introduced this season to undo any controversial goals that shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place. Essentially, if a coach feels that a goal was scored by the other team but should have been called off because the refs missed a violation, that coach can then challenge the goal for either offside or goalie interference. The risk of the challenge? The team issuing it would lose their timeout if the goal stands.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, recently, the Chicago Blackhawks have been a victim of supposedly bad challenges by their opponents that have actually overturned in their goals. Needless to say, coach Joel Quenneville’s reactions to each one tell the whole story of their displeasure.

Unhappy coach Q is unhappy.

Furious coach Q is furious. (Courtesy of SB Nation’s Second City Hockey)

As a matter of fact, right winger Marian Hossa backed up coach Q’s expression of outrage on Feb. 4th in a road game against the Arizona Coyotes. On a goal he thought had counted, Coyotes’ head coach Dave Tippett issued a challenge for goalie interference. There was just one problem. Video evidence showed that Coyotes’ defenseman Khlas Dahlbeck had pushed Hossa into the goalie Louie Domingue right before the goal. Nevertheless, the refs agreed with the challenge and… well, the coach Q mayhem ensued, resulting in a Blackhawks’ bench minor.

The latest person to sound off on the flaws of the Coach’s Challenge? Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. On Feb. 22nd, in a game against the Boston Bruins, Tortorella challenged a Loui Eriksson goal that was scored against his team, calling goalie interference. The goal stood, and despite the 6-4 win over Boston he was not pleased with the call.

Oh gosh. You know what, just get rid of the coach’s challenge. Just get rid of it. The whole being of the coaches challenge is to get it right. If we can’t get it right on that call, then just get rid of the coaches challenge because all I did was waste a timeout. It’s discouraging. That is a no-brainer call. So if they vote again for it, no coach’s challenge as far as this organization is concerned.




– John Tortorella on the Coach’s Challenge

I will say that just from watching Sharks games and reading through Twitter alone, there have been quite a few questionable challenges by head coach Peter DeBoer alone. Most have been unsuccessful, while a select few have been.

Quite honestly, I’m not even sure anymore as to whether or not some of the weak challenges are legit challenges anymore or just to give teams an extra breather, as suggested at one point by Sharks color analyst Jamie Baker. Either way, I do have a few things to say about this issue. I think the refs have just absolutely botched the rules altogether this season. Among other things, which can be discussed in a later article, what exactly is goalie interference anymore? I mean, I’ve heard explanations that range from goalie can’t be impeded from making a save to players can’t be in the blue paint, and technically both are correct, but now it seems if you come even three inches of making contact with goaltenders, either the refs are going to call goalie interference or the coaches are going to challenge it.

I mean, again, the whole purpose of the Coach’s Challenge is to overturn a questionable goal on the ice, but more and more people seem to be in a disagreement on what the rules are in general. On top of that, and even more laughable, what about those tablets that the refs review the plays on? I mean, those are apparently iPad Minis, but holy crap. Those are freakin’ small as hell! How the hell are they able to see ANY goals clearly on those tablets? I’ve read enough tweets on Twitter that they should have bigger tablets to review the goals on, and I’m honestly in agreement.

Another good idea I actually heard on a Sharks podcast, which actually goes for all video reviews, is why not show the goal in question on the jumbotron? Sure, TV telecasts get a few camera angles for those watching at home. Refs obviously have an angle, but… what about the fans who are actually watching in person? I mean, you can only see so much up in the stands, especially when you’re watching from high up! It’d be nice if the in-arena technicians could work with the Situation Room in Toronto as well to broadcast the goal in review on the video board. Of course, in the end it’s the refs making the call. But it wouldn’t hurt for those fans to chime in their thoughts as well.

All-in-all, the coach’s challenge has generated plenty more controversy than intended. Maybe the Board of Governors will address any changes in the challenges in future meetings. For now, though, a lot of fans are unhappy. A lot of players are as well, and so are the coaches.

What are your thoughts on the coach’s challenge? Feel free to post them in the comments section and vote in the poll below!

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