On Wednesday the NHL's 30 general managers dropped by Toronto to get fashion advice from Don Cherry and have a chat about how they can make the NHL a better place for the players and for you, the fan.
Because they care.
Among the topics discussed were mandatory visors, hybrid icing, smaller goalie pads, and embellishment along the boards (with special consultant Sean Avery. Okay not really.). You know, the same stuff they talk about every year and never change.
One of the hottest topics was
the news that Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn have started dating the idea of expanding replay via coach's challenges. According to director of hockey operations Colin Campbell via Yahoo's! Nick Cotsonika the GMs were excited about this prospect . . .
"They came out flying," Campbell said, "They wanted to challenge the drop of the puck at the start of the game."
. . . until they got to the nitty-gritty,
"There's just too many situations that different guys brought up that would potentially slow the game down," said Kris King, vice president of hockey ops.
"We also made it apparent, the way we see it in video review, if we rule on goalie interference plays, there's a good chance we're going to take more goals down than we're going to add in a game where we want more scoring, more scoring chances. "Once we played devil's advocate with a lot of their questions, they just didn't feel now was the right time to implement a coach's challenge. We want to look at it further."
This logic is hard to reconcile.
That the NHL wants to increase scoring is understandable. Goals are exciting, celebrations are fun, and everybody loves hearing Doc Emerick scream, "SCOOOOOOOORRRRE!" while the goal horn blares in the background.
Okay, maybe goals aren't fun for everyone.
But do you know what's more fun than goals? Making sure those goals are legitimate, and not scored because of a missed offside or on a power play that should never have been.
It's hard to argue that expanded replay is a hurdle too large to be cleared when most of us have a DVR and can determine whether or not a call was correct from our couches in about ten seconds. It seems like the entire process of a coach's challenge would take roughly two minutes from the challenge to the review.
But the GMs and league officials are putting their heads in the sand, because it's much easier to pretend to care about making decisions than it is actually making them.
The primary concerns cited by the general managers are 1) coaches using challenges as a delay tactic to give a tired team an extra timeout, and 2) the added review time could cause games to run longer than the NHL-preferred 2:30.
Granted, it's not hard to imagine a scenario in which John Tortorella tosses a fraudulent challenge flag after a late-game icing to give his players a blow. Although this would be rather easily spotted, giving the referees a chance to dust off the criminally underused embellishment penalty. And who wouldn't want to see Torts go nuclear after that?
And while we all can appreciate the NHL's concern about game length, deploying this apprehension as an argument against replay is misguided. This isn't the MLB where endless pitching changes, mound visits, and cat-and-mouse games between pitchers and baserunners can lead to three-hour-plus games. The last two minutes of an NBA tilt drag on like a Grateful Dead jam. The NFL has the least action per 60 minutes of play of any major sport, making any delay feel eternal. The NHL had this problem in the days of 20 minute overtime periods, but since the five minute limit on the extra frame was instituted this has ceased to be an issue
Hockey fans don't want to slog through endless stoppages where we're forced to watch people on our TV watch TV to determine what just happened. This is very meta and very boring. NFL fans constantly complain about having to deal with this, and for good reason.
lol wats goin on in here
But what NHL fans do want is for games to be decided by what actually happens on the ice as opposed to what the officials think they saw. Hockey moves inordinately fast and sometimes referees are going to kick calls. That sucks, but it's not nearly as much of a problem if potentially game-changing mistake can be overturned. I'm willing to spend an extra five minutes per night watching a game if it means the referees aren't the ones determining the outcome on a bogus call.
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