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TSN’s Kerry Fraser digs the coach’s challenge

TSN's Kerry Fraser was asked to weigh in on the coach's challenge today:

The game, as you know, is very fast. One of the most difficult decisions that a referee has to make involves goalie interference in the often high traffic area of the goal crease. There is no more helpless feeling for a ref than having the puck enter the net and being uncertain if, or how, illegal contact with the goalie took place. In those moments the four officials would conference on the ice in an effort to determine the correct call from their various perspectives. As the conference was taking place the rest of the hockey world had the advantage of watching multiple replays on their television monitors.

The procedure worked to perfection on opening night when Toronto coach Mike Babcock initiated the first coach's challenge at 6:36 of the second period in their game against the Montreal Canadiens. The successful challenge resulted in referee Dan O'Rourke's reversal of his original decision, disallowing a goal scored by Jeff Petry as a result of incidental contact by Tomas Plekanec on Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier. Last season that illegal goal would have stood.

I must point out that Rule 69 (Interference on the Goalkeeper) is three pages long and has many components to it. As such, goalie interference is not cut and dried. The referee(s) must exercise considerable judgment to determine the presence of goalie interference even through the use of video review. It is imperative that the team spotters in the press box (assistant coaches) have a full understanding of the rule and the standard that is employed by the referees for them to initiate the coach's challenge. If the challenge does not overturn the referee's initial call the team loses their timeout. Without a timeout the coach forfeits his right to initiate another challenge in the game.

The new rule has already proven its benefit to the game by assisting the referees with the technology that is readily available for them to get the call right in the two scenarios that are allowed. It's a very good beginning.  I hope that the process will be expanded over time to allow referees to initiate a video review on their own if they determine that they need a second look at goalie interference or offside and the team/coach does not have a timeout remaining. I will perhaps expand on this thought as the season moves along and we monitor the challenge process.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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