Making the Right Call: How to fix NHL Officiating


What the NHL should do to prevent a bad call from determining who's going to win the Cup

I can't tell you how many times that I have been frustrated by a referee making a call that is just so obviously wrong after video replay.  I know I'm not alone in this, but I think we could avoid a lot of stress with a slightly increased use of video replay.  With the Kings scoring a controversial goal on Saturday night in the Stanley Cup Final, now is as good a time as any to look at how we can fix this.
My recommendation would include adding a 5th official into the mix (with on-ice officiating experience) who would watch the game from in-house and be able to get a fast decision relayed back down to the on-ice officials.

1) Puck over glass:
Every time the puck flies over the glass, everyone on the ice falls back into their kindergarten tendencies of pointing and yelling of "He did it!" and "No I didn't, he did! It wasn't my fault!".  A fifth official can quickly check if yes, the puck did go straight out.  Or no, the puck was either tipped, or hit the glass before going over.  Of course, if it cannot be determined quickly, they would stick with what the call was on the ice.

2) Freezing the puck:
Every couple games or so, it seems as though a goal is either allowed or disallowed depending on whether or not the referee blew the whistle "in his mind".  Also, there are situations when the whistle should have been blown but wasn't (*cough*cough* Senators vs. Canadiens March 15th *cough*).  The official would be able to have a quick discussion with the on-ice officials as to what the replay showed.  Was the puck really covered?  Should the goal count?  Despite this being currently an "unreviewable play", the referees sometimes end up taking their time discussing it with the war room in Toronto.  What could it hurt to have a quick discussion with an in-house official with the ability to determine when the whistle should have blown?  Why should anything be called an "unreviewable play" when a review could easily confirm/reject the call?

3) Goalie Interference:
Again, what is now an unreviewable play, definitely should not be.  It's nearly impossible to argue that one set of eyes on the play is better than 5-6 different camera angles that the 5th official would have access to.  A quick call and subsequent discussion would definitely increase the accuracy of the call.  A quick look back at Jakob Silfververg's phantom goalie interference call, the call on Alex Killorn in the first round of the playoffs, and Dwight King's interference on Henrik Lundqvist can easily show you that this is a necessary change.  From most replays, you would be able to determine whether or not the goalie was interfered and make a quick goal or no goal call.  If you can't conclusively determine that, of course the call would revert back to the call on the ice.

Adding a 5th official may not be entirely different from an increased use of the Toronto war room, but the 5th official would also be able to meet/chat with the on-ice officials during intermissions or commercial breaks to keep them up to date on what they are seeing.  Should we also be giving the 5th official the power to call penalties when a call is clearly missed?  Where should we draw the line on what they can do?

While each of these recommendations would add to the accuracy of the officiating, they would definitely increase the amount of time a game would take. It all comes down to the speed vs. quality trade-off.  Should this be part of an NFL-type system where coaches would be able to challenge the play?  I'm not sure, but I believe that if we have the technology and the ability to get the call right, it almost seems nonsensical not to use it.

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