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The Malik Report

The one time I agree with a referee…

Perhaps due to the fact that I tried to bend rules into pretzels from the start of my sporting career--as a 7-year-old soccer player who was already built like a beer keg, and instructed to "move people" so that my more subtly-skilled teammates could enjoy more room to operate--I've never been a friend of referees. That certainly remained the case when I took up playing hockey as a forward who "moved people" and pissed them off, and it was even the case when my status as an instigating, aggravating forward had my friends breathing sighs of relief when I happily accepted my banishment to the goal crease.

As you already know by now, I'm pretty passionate about the subject of goaltender interference, and I was pretty pissed off by the wishy-washy takes on reviewing goalie interference via video issued by all partipiants at Monday's competition committee meetings.

Thankfully, Kerry Fraser of all people addressed Colin Campbell and Mathieu Schneider's suggestions that one cannot utilize video review to address instances of goaltender interference because there might not be consensus as to whether a call on the ice involved a "good goal," and this excerpt of a longer column by Fraser on TSN is a breath of fresh air:

I would respectfully submit that language contained throughout the rule book provides the referee(s) with the authority and latitude to exercise his individual judgment in the enforcement of the rules. Phrases such as "In the judgment of the Referee; There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees; The Referee, "at his discretion" may assess; The Referees are provided very wide latitude in the penalties with which they may impose under this rule; The discretion provided (to the Referees) should be exercised realistically…"

The referees do not apply a mathematical equation to problem solving. Instead, with your direction provided to them as to the expected standard of enforcement, the referees exercise their individual judgment to try and make the "correct call" from a position and vantage point that they occupy on the ice in that moment. This does not always achieve "certainty" and the referee's perception of the play can quickly be changed if he is provided with a different angle or more precisely through video review. The current process and follow-up protocol of a conference conducted by the four on-ice officials (when utilized) does not achieve any "certainty" that the correct call is ultimately made.

The NCAA and AHL provide referees with access to video, and sometimes they change their calls...

Gentlemen, one of the challenges that await you at your next meeting is to achieve some consensus among your group as to what actually constitutes a violation of rule 69—goalkeeper interference? Based on another quote following the competition committee meeting you have your work cut out for you.

Fraser continues, and suggests that the NHL needs to help referees, coaches, players, or everybody in the equation to understand what exactly constitutes interference versus incidental contact or "battling for position," concluding with the following suggestion:

I also agree that "the education process is going to be "key".  The officiating brotherhood can never stop learning, evolving or improving. Give them the tools they need to develop better positioning philosophies so that they consistently know where to go when a player is coming at them or where to go to find the best site line to the goal. A well officiated game is also incumbent upon the utilization of a referee's sound judgment. He cannot be stripped of that yet again by a non-official making the call for him from an off-site location.

Obviously, Fraser and I disagree on this point: I fully believe that the War Room not just "should," but instead, must have the authority and ability to review and overturn each and every instance in which a referee makes a "judgment call" regarding a puck entering the net and either counting as a goal or not counting as a goal.

However, Fraser and I agree that having the ref review a call via access to video sure as *#$%@& sounds like a much sounder idea than doing nothing and getting it wrong:

The referees want to get the call right! The couple of minutes it will take for the referee to review the suspected presence of goalkeeper interference, along with some good coaching, will lead to a new age of officiating.

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.