Video Replay a Must as NHL Referees Struggle to Get Things Right

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2013

A video challenge system would help NHL officials make the correct calls more often.
A video challenge system would help NHL officials make the correct calls more often.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Using video replay to get calls right would be a boon for the NHL.

Ironically, the only league in which instant replay has never worked the way it was intended has been the NFL.

For years, NFL officials have been cowed by instant replay. They no longer make decisive calls and they huddle every time they throw a flag.

But it works well in Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL. It is especially effective in hockey because every goal is reviewed efficiently from the league's video review center in Toronto.

Good goals count; bad goals are washed out.

It doesn't have to stop there. A video review system that would allow each coach to have a challenge during the course of the game could be administered in the same way.

Challenges of penalty calls or offsides calls could be ruled on quickly.

Coaches would not have to challenge in the final minute of any game. The officials in Toronto could institute a review of their own based on any call that was made in the final minute or overtime of any game.

If a coach's challenge was successful, he would get another challenge in the game. If the challenge failed, the coach would be out of luck for the rest of the game.

Earlier this year, linesmen missed a call in a game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators. In that game, Matt Duchene took a pass that gave him a breakaway on Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

However, Duchene was at least 10 feet offsides on the play. He knew the whistle was coming, hesitated for an instant and then went in on Rinne and scored when the play was not blown dead.

That was an obvious bad call. That kind of mistake is truly a rarity in the NHL.

But mistakes are made regularly on penalty calls and a coaching challenge system would help to fix the errors.

It would be especially valuable for coaches who save their challenges to the right point in the third period of close games.

If it's about getting the call right, the challenge system is right for the NHL.

If it's about speeding the game up, the league will put the suggestion in the file and debate it for months.

That would be a waste of time. It needs to happen now.