VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Upon further review ... the NHL's about to have a lot more review.
Prompted in part by scattered controversies in the recently completed Stanley Cup playoffs -- both of which immensely benefited the Sharks, for whatever that's worth -- the league's general managers met Thursday night here at the JW Marriott Parq and expanded head coaches' parameters for video replay challenges and, for the first time, are allowing on-ice referees to backcheck their own work in administering major and match penalties.
Previously, only two infractions were available for coaches to challenge when a goal was scored on their team: Offside and goaltender interference. This meeting added a third category the GMs labeled 'missed-stoppage' situations, meaning any missed call that might have caused a stoppage in play and, thus, prevented a goal.
Those include the hand pass, no doubt in a nod to the infamous feed on Erik Karlsson's overtime goal against the Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference final ...
"The referees cannot call what they didn't see."
A hand pass, unseen by the referees, gifted the San Jose Sharks the overtime game winner in Game 3 over the St. Louis Blues.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 16, 2019
... as well as a puck going into the netting, a high stick on a puck, and other black-and-white calls. This pointedly does not include subjective calls such as tripping, hooking, etc.
Coaches need to be more careful than ever, though: The first blown challenge will be an automatic minor, the next one a double-minor. Previously, they'd only lost a timeout.
Referees will be in full control of the change regarding major and match penalties, and they'll be required to review every one. When they call one, the specific official who made the call -- and remember that linesmen can call major and match penalties -- will review the incident on video at ice level. He'll then confirm if it was a major or minor, but he won't be able to make it any less than a minor.
That, of course, also leads back to the Sharks from Game 7 of their first-round series with the Golden Knights:
Cody Eakin given five-minute major for this cross-check on Joe Pavelski. Sharks scored three straight times on ensuing power play pic.twitter.com/VlKFq27AtK
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 24, 2019
Under the new rule, the official who made the call would have been able to skate to the bench, watch the play, see that Joe Pavelski actually was injured in the awkward fall and change the call on Cody Eakin to a minor.
Similarly, referees will be able to completely rescind a double-minor for high-sticking if it can be determined the stick in question was that of a teammate.
Upon emerging from the meeting, Gary Bettman emphasized that the league doesn't want to see a rise in reviews and, hence, the harsher penalties for coaches.
"The theory there is we don't want lots and lots of challenges," he said. "We don't want to disrupt the flow of the game. We only want challenges where it's crystal clear that an egregious mistake has been made. If it's, 'Well, maybe it could be, maybe it shouldn't,' then there shouldn't be a challenge. I think the coaches and video coaches will adapt to that."
Of the very real perception that these moves were made in response to the two San Jose situations, he added, "At this point in time, we think it was the appropriate response to what we were seeing coupled with what we believe is our ability to do it. We think the things that we're covering are a logical next step that we think we can implement."
Bettman also acknowledged, strikingly, that the GMs discussed the elimination of offside "altogether," though it didn't sound like that was taken seriously.
Other rule changes implemented:
• If a goaltender intentionally knocks his net off the moorings during a breakaway, a goal will be awarded to the attacking team.
• The team that knocks its net off the moorings, intentionally or or not, won't be allowed a line change. On top of that, the attacking team will be able to choose the circle for the ensuing faceoff.
• If a team about to get a power play ices the puck, it still will have a faceoff in the attacking zone.
• If a player loses his helmet, he'll have to go back to the bench or put the helmet back on properly. Only exception is if he's got an immediate play on the puck. Failure to adhere will be a minor penalty.
• If the goaltender freezes the puck following a shot from beyond center red, his team won't be allowed a line change.
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