The Weekly Rant: The NHL Needs to Fix Goaltender Interference


Greetings to all NoVa Caps readers.  I am starting a new weekly column that deals with the latest and most controversial topics around the NHL.  It is going to be a hard hitting column, that will most likely challenge the audience.

No, it will not be called “The Weekly Rant.”  But you do have the opportunity to help pick the name of this new weekly column at the end of this article.

I want this new column to be something that has a lot of engagement.  I would love to see it become something glorious.

For the first topic, I have chosen to discuss goaltender interference.  Goaltender interference is a hot topic around the NHL today.  For several years, the NHL has tried solving this problem, which seems to still occur daily during the season.


Even though goaltender interference is something that is somewhat defined in the NHL rulebook, it is usually a judgment call for any referee on the ice.  Goaltender interference has a lot of different scenarios.

The NHL needs to update the rulebook, and they need to give the rule more clarity.  The NHL needs to find a way to cut down “judgment” calls for their on-ice officials.  How can they do this?  How can the NHL change up the rule?  I will explain how through video examples.


The goaltender has to be allowed to make a save in the blue paint area.  The blue paint is his “crease zone,” which technically is his safe zone from contact.  If an offensive player (player from opposite team), deliberately makes contact with the goaltender, they should be assessed a penalty.


In some instances, we see goaltenders step outside of their crease (or blue paint).  If a goaltender does this, he should be fair game for contact.  If he steps outside of the blue paint, the goaltender interference rule should not be in effect.

Here is an example of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask getting the benefit of the doubt from NHL referees.  Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri scored a deflection goal, which was waved off, but should have counted.

While Kadri made contact with Rask (who was outside of his crease), Kadri was pushed in to Rask by Bruins forward Chris Kelly.  Kadri did not deliberately bump into Rask, as he was pushed into him by one of Rask’s own teammates.

I am all for protecting the goaltenders around the NHL, but I also believe that if they come outside of the blue paint, they become fair game for contact.  I am not advocating the hitting or checking of goaltenders, but I do believe some goaltenders are risky with their play, and they put themselves in bad positions to get hit.  I believe goaltenders should stay in the blue paint 90% of the time.  It is the best way to avoid any kind of contact, and it is the best way to draw a call if there is any interference.


Most Capitals fans probably remember the Joel Ward goal against the Rangers that was waved off in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This goal should have counted.  While Joel Ward made contact with Henrik Lundqvist (while Lundqvist was still in his crease), he was pushed into Lundqvist by Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

If the offensive player (Ward) is pushed in to the goaltender by a defending player (Stepan) while a puck is going into the net, a goal should still count.  If the referees cannot make a proper judgment call, which was the case here, the review should go to the Toronto War Room.


In a game between Anaheim and Chicago, Ducks forward Corey Perry drove up the middle of the ice, and made deliberate contact with Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.  He skated over Crawford, and gave Crawford no chance to make the save.  Perry was not bumped on the play, which cancels out incidental contact.  This is a good call.


Here is an example of a goaltender initiating contact with an offensive player.  Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith initiated physical contact with Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews as he skated toward the net.

If a goal would have been scored against the Coyotes on this play, the goal should count.  Goaltenders should not be able to initiate physical contact with the skaters, unless they are in a situation where they are trying to protect themselves.  Smith reacted a bit differently here, as he attempted to throw a body check on Toews.


The referees should not have the power to make these tough judgment calls on goals.  The War Room has all of the camera angles needed to determine goaltender interference.

Referees have a difficult time making judgment calls.  An offensive player that makes contact with a goaltender is not always at fault on the play.  If an offensive player gets shoved into a goaltender by the goaltender’s teammate, I would consider that friendly fire.  Is “friendly fire” something that can lead to goals?  I think so.

The Toronto War Room would be able to judge if an offensive player was pushed into an opposing netminder.  The referees need to keep close tabs on goaltenders, and take mental note of where their skates are.  If the goaltender’s skates are outside of his crease, he is not in the safe zone.


I hope you enjoyed my outlook on how goaltender interference should be played in my first column.  The goaltending position is very complex, and the interference calls will probably never become totally resolved.

Now that you have read my first column, I am now asking you for some help.  Please help me find a proper name for my new column.  Some of the names our team has come up with include:


If you think you can come up with a good column name, please feel free to drop a name in our comments section!

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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