Calgary Flames: Coach’s Challenges Are Going Way Too Far

A couple years ago, the NHL implemented a new thing called a “coach’s challenge”. But where do we draw the line? Especially when it affects teams, just like your Calgary Flames.

Before the start of the 2015-2016 season, the NHL implemented something called a “Coach’s Challenge”. So far this season, it hasn’t quite been a benefit for the Calgary Flames. Especially with the game against the Florida Panthers on January 17th, 2017.

First, let’s just explain what the Coach’s Challenge is and when teams can take advantage of them.

What the Coach’s Challenge is, just a light brief summary is that even though it still is quite limited, a coach will be able to request a challenge under two scoring play scenarios, according to the league. Those two scenarios are:

  1. If an offside play leads to a goal.
  2. On scoring players that involve goaltender interference.

Via Broad Street Hockey:

That means that things like penalties, or goals scored under other questionable circumstances, will not be eligible for challenge. Teams will only be allowed to use their challenge if they have a timeout available. Just like in the NFL, if the team is unsuccessful in the challenge, they will lose their timeout. If they are successful, they will retain it.

More about Coach’s Challenges

Here is a direct statement from the league about off-side challenges:

Goals will only be reviewed for a potential “Off-Side” infraction if: (a) the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again; or (b) all members of the attacking team do not clear the attacking zone again, between the time of the “Off-Side” play and the time the goal is scored. … In the event a goal is reversed due to the Linesman determining that the play was “Off-Side” prior to the goal being scored, the clock (including penalty time clocks, if applicable) will be re-set to the time at which the play should have been stopped for the “Off-Side” infraction.

With goaltender interference, there are two cases where a team can challenge. Either there was a goal scored on the team that was a good goal on the ice, but the team believes that the opposite team had interfered with their goaltender, they could challenge the goal. Or on the other side, if the team scores a goal that was right away waved off by the official because the official believed there was goaltender interference, the team could also challenge if they believe there was no goaltender interference.

Calgary Flames vs Florida Panthers – January 17th, 2017

Now, this game just happened the other night so it’s still quite fresh in my mind. The Calgary Flames had not one, but two times where they had a goal taken away after further review because of a Coach’s Challenge. They were close to even having a third.

Even Flames commentators, Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey, were getting annoyed and frustrated by the reviews. It was even leaving them asking “Where do we draw the line?”

In the second period, people were believing the players were on-side right before the goal. With that goal by Freddie Hamilton that was later determined no goal after the coach’s challenge, they said Matt Stajan was offside when entering the offensive zone. However, if you watch the video, you can see Stajan’s foot still over the blue line, however not on the ice. Which begs the question about what really counts as offside in this case.

How far are we going to go to zoom in completely on the line to see if the skate is a millimeter off?

And then, we got the second goal that was reviewed. And this is where Rick Ball got angry and frustrated. I’m pretty sure Rick Ball is me in about 20 years. The second one took a little longer to review than the first one. And Rick Ball goes, “If you need to get out your electron microscope to see if it was offside or not, I’m thinking maybe the goal should stay”. Same Rick, same.

Twitter reacts

I’m sure I don’t need to tell anybody how angry and frustrated fans were. Let’s look at the reactions after the first no-goal.

As we can see, the first goal wasn’t too bad. Not too many reactions there. But then we get the second one and oh boy.

And then people made jokes because, you know, internet.

Empty Netter! Oh wait…

We then have Sean Monahan finish the game off with an empty-net goal, making the score now 7-2. Err, I mean, 5-2. And then people started joking saying the Panthers should challenge that again for offside. But then, the refs looked to actually want to review the goal because the Calgary Flames had what appeared to be too many men on the ice. Leaving fans not knowing what to do with themselves.

And again, people making some more jokes.

But all joking aside, have we really gone too far with Coach’s Challenges? If we do, for lack of better words and as Rick Ball puts it, need to get out some “electron microscopes” to determine if a play is offside, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of offside? If it wasn’t caught on the ice because it’s that close and we need to completely slow down the play and zoom in, are we going too far?

I do strongly believe that this needs to be talked about more. Because the Calgary Flames may have still won this game even with two disallowed goals. But that may not always happen.

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