Fixing the Coaches’ Challenge System

coaches challenge

editorial The main gripes with the current Challenge System are the game delays it causes and the fact that only certain things are challengeable.  But what should be done to make the system function better and make it more exciting?  Below, are a few ideas.


In the late 90’s and early 2000’s coaches would challenge the curve in an opposing player’s stick to see if it was legal, hoping it wasn’t, and earning a power play.  However, if they were incorrect, the challenging coach and team would receive the penalty.  This could apply to the goal challenge system.  If the challenging coach is incorrect, that team should be penalized for delay of game, a two-minute minor.  Imagine this:  a coach challenges a goal, thinking it will be overturned, and instead, not only does the goal count, but the opposition gets a power play to boot!  In addition, it might be interesting to allow more than one challenge, with the caveat that subsequent incorrect challenges would result in an increased penalty, like a four-minute double-minor and a five-minute major.

No challenges at certain points in the game.

While the risk/reward idea might mitigate frivolous challenges, it certainly won’t stop coaches from challenging any late game goals, especially if they could determine the outcome of the game.  The solution:  Don’t allow coaches to challenge in the last two minutes on the game, or in overtime.  Toronto should be watching more closely at this point in the games, and should offer diligent support to the referees.

Put them on the clock.

By them, I mean that the officials should put themselves on the clock, say one minute once they have all the angles.  If you cannot tell buy this amount of time, let’s face it, it’s inconclusive, and the call on the ice should stand.  (if the already do this, they should make it more known to the public.)

Reduce the amount of judgement needed in Goaltender Interference.

Goaltender Interference requires a great deal of judgement by the officials.  Calls such as delay of game by putting the puck out of the rink are easier to make because the rule is clear.  Requiring more judgement by individuals results in greater inconsistency of calls.  Make the definition as clear as possible and reduce the judgement as much as possible.  Clarity of definition also makes things easier on coaches.

Allow coaches to challenge for or against certain penalties

If you are going to have a challenge system in, you might as well let coaches challenge more than just one particular situation.  This could be particularly useful when dealing with delay of game and high-sticking penalties.  In the case of high-sticking, especially when there is blood drawn.  Of course, the risk/reward rule should apply….

While these are a few ideas, there are bound to be many more.  Hopefully, the NHL will look over how it is using replay.  It is their first time using this system, and hopefully over time and trial, they can make the system even better.

By Lincoln Cajulis

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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