Open Mic: NHL Referees, Is It Time To "CHALLENGE" Them?

Adam WrightSenior Analyst IMay 22, 2008

Being here for nearly a month now and written a dozen articles on Bleacher Report, I’ve decided to throw my hat in for this “Open-Mic” session. The topic in hand is referees.

Ah yes, referees! They can determine the outcome of game with a signal call, or non-call. They are ridiculed at times by fans, players, commentators, coaches and management. It’s a hard knock life for the referee.

During the playoffs, especially in the NHL, the job of a ref becomes so much more important, and so much more of an issue.  

Every week we hear of situations that may or may not have been controversial. A bad call, a non-call, a disallowed goal, a “phantom” goal, along with bad penalties and no penalties… we’ve seen them all! Just ask John Tortorella.

Every fan, coach, and player wished they could have one more chance. One more chance to undo the wrong that may have been committed by a ref. But what if there was a way to challenge a ref’s decision?

In the NFL, coaches have a chance to call a “Challenge”. A “Challenge” gives a chance for the referee to review the play and judge if an infraction was committed or not.

What if the NHL had a similar system?

Here’s my suggestion. Each team would have 1 “challenge” per period that could be used at any time. If a coach wants a goal reviewed, or a penalty, they would have a chance to challenge the ref. Of course, there would have to be some sort of time limit so the game won’t be delayed to an extreme length.

Another issue, why does an NHL ref have to make a call to the Head Office to review the play? With today’s technology, wouldn’t it be more logical, and quicker, for the refs to have some sort of monitors of their own to review the play themselves? Some coaches are already using this technology (mini-TVs) behind the bench.

If the NHL took the NFL’s “challenge” rules, and added new technology for the refs to review the plays themselves, bad calls would greatly decrease.

This plan does have some flaws though. The delay time would be a problem, and buying the technology for the refs is very expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for a human mistake causing a team the game.

Is it time to CHALLENGE the refs? What’s your take?