The NHL Coach’s Challenge: A Major Work In Progress


(Photo: NHL)

The new NHL Coach’s Challenge that has been implemented for this season was supposed help out the game and it was to cut down the controversy on any questionable goals. It has not lived up to its expectations.

Capitals fans have seen their team fall victim to the Coach’s Challenge on numerous occasions this year. On Saturday in Winnipeg, the outcome for the Capitals was no different than in previous games.

Here is what happened. The Capitals challenged the Jets game-winning goal in overtime after they felt that the Jets were offside on the play. Barry Trotz made a good challenge and this play was very close. The feeling from the Capitals is that there was enough conclusive evidence for the referees to overturn the call on the ice.


This play took over 5 minutes to review from the men wearing stripes. No normal goal review should ever take this long to look over.

So why did this particular review seem to take forever among the referees? What can the NHL do to improve the Coach’s Challenge process?

Have you seen the tablets the NHL referees are using during these coach’s challenges? The tablets look like they are as big as a portable Nintendo.

Is this really good enough for the NHL officials on the ice? Can the referees actually judge an offside call with such a small screen in front of them? It is highly doubtful.

Maybe the NHL needs to take a page out of the NFL’s playbook and get the Microsoft tablets on the ice. They have a much bigger viewing screen and are built more like an Apple iPad.

I am under the assumption that the referees sometimes cannot tell if the puck is or is not offside, so if they do not have the ability to make the proper call, then there is a serious issue here.

If the referees on the ice cannot make a clear view of the puck, then an audible to Toronto war room should be issued. They have better screens and more viewing angles from up there.

As many cameras that are on the ice right now, it is amazing how many times goals can be considered “not conclusive.”

The NFL just recently added pylon cameras for more looks on the field. Maybe the NHL could add cameras at the bluelines in the boards or along the glass to give some added vision on the ice. Perhaps the NHL could make the linesman wear camera helmets full-time. Could the NHL add a camera in the time keeper’s area?

There are various ways the NHL could improve the vision they have on the ice. They have just to spend the money and they have to be willing to experiment with new techniques.

The NHL Coach’s Challenge was a good idea originally because there have been a lot of goals surrounded by so much controversy within the past few years. The game is so fast now, and it is difficult for the referees to even see things in real-time.

But the main problem now is that the referees are still missing the calls, even with the Coach’s Challenge in place. Is it human error or technology error? Is it both?

The Coach’s Challenge is still trying to find the consistency it needs to be successful. But the NHL needs to take the next steps with it and invest in improved technology. The NHL needs to invest in more on-ice cameras, and they need to invest in better on-ice tablets for the referees. There is no reason why a ton of goals should still say “not conclusive” attached to them.

By George Foussekis

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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1 Response to The NHL Coach’s Challenge: A Major Work In Progress

  1. Carole O'Brien Cook says:

    I still have a problem with referees reviewing their own calls. If a call is challenged, it should be decided by Toronto.

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