The NHL gets a lot a of things right with their league. Sometimes, they do a better job than the other leagues in such situations like developing a Department of Player Safety to educate players on how to hit. On the other hand, they have bright people such as Patrick Burke and Brian Burke who helped found the LGBT rights group You Can Play.
However, for as much good the league does they still have their struggles and embarrassments.
Most notably is the ludicrous rule on goalie interference, which has been a source of controversy in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. According to the NHL rulebook, goalie interference is a non-reviewable call. The latest instance of this is the goal disallowed against the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews in the first game of the Western Conference Finals due to goalie interference.
Toews seemed to have leapt out of the way of Los Angeles Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick as the puck squirted past Quick. The initial call was considered a good goal but after the referees deliberated on the ice, it was established that the goal wasn’t a goal due to Toews’ committing goalie interference. The Kings went on to score seventy-two seconds later.
Here is the NHL’s statement on the non-goal courtesy of ESPN’s Craig Custance:
Here’s the explanation on the no-goal from the NHL’s situation room: pic.twitter.com/Z2pKODihg4
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) May 18, 2014
Ultimately, they got the call right as Toews did prevent Quick from making a save on the puck before it went in. The real issue, at least in this instance is nobody knew that in the arena or at home and “goalie interference isn’t reviewable.”
The NHL needs to change its stance on goalie interference. They need to review all aspects of goalie interference, as sometimes referees are not in the best position to make the appropriate call. Instead of leaving it all on the referees and not have a fall back to make the correct call, have the league help by reviewing all of these calls.
A great example of this bad rule causing problems is Francis Charron disallowing a goal in the Tampa-Montreal series. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Alex Killorn had already left the net, in fact he was by the faceoff circle when the goal was scored and made an effort to get out of the way. Carey Price still had time to set up for the shot that got by him but the ref waived it off immediately for a highly questionable ruling of goalie interference. Due to goalie interference being non-reviewable, the Lightning goal was disallowed and it had an impact on the game and could have changed the series.
Whether that goal could have changed the series isn’t important, what is important is that the NHL wants to protect their brand and their referees and the best way to do that is to ensure there are fail safes to get the call right.
After years of dealing with scoring plays being called incorrectly, the NFL reviews all of their scoring plays. The NHL does the same in all instances, except goalie interference. Instead of fans gnashing their teeth while calling for a referee’s head why not include goalie interference as a part of the review process when it comes to disallowing or allowing a goal? They already review goals if there is a kicking motion so wouldn’t goalie interference rank higher?
All they would have to do is change that little annoying phrase “goalie interference isn’t reviewable.” It would not only prevent these miscues from cropping up so much but it would put a stronger game as the NHL wouldn’t be criticized so much for an easily fixable mistake.