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Evaluating the coach’s challenge

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Are the reviews becoming problematic?

Of all the parts of the coach’s challenge, using it to challenge an offside play remains the most controversial. The basis for the challenge is simple: “We just want to get the call right.” Here’s the problem: It seems many times the coaches challenge calls, the referees go under the hood and ... the calls aren’t corrected. Or, in many cases, the evidence is “inconclusive.” This could, at least in part, be blamed on putting too much responsibility on in-arena officials. Should the league office in Toronto just handle the reviews?

One case that sparked controversy, and something I found baffling, was the offside challenge by the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday in their game against the Minnesota Wild. Zach Parise scored a goal which tied the game at two in the second period. Joel Quenneville challenged the call under the speculation the play was offside.

When shown on a replay on NBCSN, Charlie Coyle caught the puck across the blue line, and Parise had not tagged back up in the time, therefore the play should have been ruled offside. The play was under review for a very long time, the ref had to essentially use an iPhone to get in contact with Toronto because they couldn’t figure out this call. The end result: the evidence was deemed “inconclusive” and the goal stood. If you’re a Hawks fan, you have every right to be mad at that call.

What were the refs seeing? I figured it out in under a minute that the play was offside. The camera angle from the blue line gave some pretty conclusive evidence the play was offside. Come playoff time, blown calls and mishandled reviews like this will be unacceptable because it could potentially cost a team a series win. It cost the Sharks a win against Nashville in the second round last season. So should these challenges be taken away from the on-ice officials?

These challenges are good to have, coaches just need to be smart when they are using them, especially in the playoffs. From what I’ve seen this season, the refs are not capable of making a decision on these challenge calls. They miss blatantly obvious penalties that are right in front of them all the time, so what makes you think they can handle challenge calls.

I’m not the only one who has been absolutely blown away with the calls NHL referees have made. The “intent to blow” the whistle (which is a stupid rule to begin with) is another reason. It had an impact with the Sharks the other night. Timo Meier was denied a goal in Tuesday’s game when Anders Nilsson never had complete control of the puck under his glove and/or pad. The ref blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line and the play was not reviewable.

So what’s the solution? Don’t take away the challenges. If the team is confident that the play was offside and wants to risk their timeout for the call to be reversed, then so be it. All NHL fans want is the right call to be made. I will not be mad if the Sharks or anyone else scores a goal and the play is ruled offside after a challenge, the right call needs to be made.

The office in Toronto needs to review all challenges as they have access to all camera angles, and hopefully some bigger televisions. I was skeptical of the refs being in control of the review system to begin with, but after Wednesday’s incident, my mind is made up. We’ve all had instances where we said to ourselves: “let me be a ref I can do better then these guys.” Well that’s becoming more of a reality the more and more this happens and the more bad calls they make.

We all get that people make mistakes, but I can’t say this any clearer: this is getting out of control. At the end of the season, Gary Bettman and the rest of the league needs to evaluate their referees. We all want a fair game, and the refs don’t seem to do a good enough job at providing that.

Let me know what you guys think of the challenge and how the procedures should be handled in the comments section.