Sunday, January 24, 2010

NHL should look to football for replay advice

NHL should look to football for replay advice: Hotstove
Vancouver Canucks ref you suck logo

At least a few NHL general managers are willing to consider a proposal that would give video replay officials at the central office in Toronto more authority on controversial calls, Hockey Night in Canada contributor Elliotte Friedman said during Saturday's Hotstove segment.

There are also suggestions to bring in a new "coach's challenge" rule similar to the one used in football, he said.

The call for a review of how the NHL handles video replay stems from an incident on Jan. 16 when Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott's shootout winner over Detroit was allowed to stand. The final call from the on-ice officials was "goal," but the replays were inconclusive.

The video review officials couldn't overturn the call even though replays failed to show the puck crossing the goal-line.

But there's talk among some GMs that the replay officials at the central office should be given the power to overturn calls more frequently.

"About six or seven GMs I canvassed say they'd like to see Toronto [make the calls]," Friedman said. "If that's any indication of how the whole league feels, there will be a movement for it."

But there is a concern such a move could make the on-ice referees little more than lame ducks.

"They're the guys on the ice," contributor Pierre LeBrun said. "In some cases they have a better view than even all of the replays. And if you take another element of power from the referee there's a sensitivity there that the ivory tower has more control."

Perhaps the referees should have access to the replays themselves, by viewing them at the penalty box, similar to the way it's done in football, Hockey Night analyst Mike Milbury suggested.

Challenge rule under consideration

Another element of officiating in the National Football League might also make its way to the NHL, Friedman said: Instituting a coach's challenge for certain plays, such as the delay-of-game call when a player fires the puck out of play in his own zone.

There was an incident in a game on Jan. 19 between Montreal and St. Louis when Habs' defenceman Roman Hamrlik was called for delay of game. Some replays indicated the puck deflected off a stick before going into the crowd, which should have negated the infraction.

Those are the types of plays the league might consider using the challenge for, Friedman said.

Teams would receive one challenge per game, and they would lose their timeout if they were wrong. If the team had already used its timeout, it would receive a delay of game penalty.

"Teams are willing to listen [to the suggestion]," Friedman said.

But critics worry that it will lengthen the average 2½-hour game.

"[It's a] bad idea. We've spent 10 years trying to make the games shorter, now we're going to make it longer again," LeBrun said.

Canucks still fuming

The infamous Burrows-Auger incident is still on the minds of Vancouver Canucks and their fans.

Canucks forward Alex Burrows was fined $2,500 US for his disparaging comments toward referee Stephane Auger after the Jan. 11 game against Nashville.

The NHLPA is appealing the decision, saying that the maximum fine for such an offence should have been $1,000 US.

Vancouver GM Mike Gillis also met with NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Jan. 19 to discuss the matter. Gillis showed video of Auger talking to Burrows during the pre-game skate, Friedman said.

Burrows alleges that Auger told him he was going to get back at the Canucks player for faking an injury by embellishing a foul on him by the Predators' Jerred Smithson in a previous game.

"Vancouver's frustration is that they think Stephane Auger got away scot-free," LeBrun said.

Struggling Oilers shopping Souray

In Edmonton, the frustration mounts for other reasons — the Oilers simply can't find a way to win.

As a result, defenceman Sheldon Souray will provide the Oilers with a list of teams where he'd be willing to be traded, HNIC's Scott Morrison reported during the Coast-to-Coast segment.

It's unclear how many teams would be on that list but Souray is expected to provide his picks to Oilers' management "soon."

Souray has a no-trade clause and two years left on his contract. His salary would constitute a $5.4 million US hit against the salary cap.

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