So you want every scoring play in the playoffs subject to video review, or is that only overtime scoring plays? But it can’t only be on overtime scoring plays, right, because what about a game-tying or game-winning scoring play in final minute of regulation? So, OK, final minute of regulation plus overtime. But wait, you mean the tying or winning scoring play with 1:01 to go would not be subject to review? All right, so every scoring play.
Every scoring play being subject to review means that every scoring play is subject to an offside review. You understand that, correct? So that all of the goals that are not challenged for offside by coaches because the risk of picking up a 2-minute penalty outweighs the reward of possibly overturning a 49-51 call, well, they will be reviewed anyway. Many, interminably. But all right, you want to get them all right, and the only way to do that is by Zaprudering every one of them.
Now, an apparent goal is scored on a rush that begins deep in the defensive zone following a turnover. Where does the video review begin? When the scoring team gains possession? When it gains the offensive zone? What happens if review uncovers a penalty back at the other end that created the turnover? No goal and a penalty? What if, upon review, a poor line change is detected and the scoring team is discovered to have had too many men on the ice? No goal and a penalty? And replay the time that had ticked off between the overlooked violation and the now disallowed goal?
When that happens a couple of times in a match, regulation games will be maybe 62, 63, 64 minutes — kind of like soccer, when you’re not quite sure how long they play — but not all of the minutes will count.
If we are now reviewing every scoring play in the playoffs, what about the final game of the regular season when two teams are competing for one tournament berth? No? So we only need to get it right in the playoffs, not necessarily the regular season. Sure, that will go over well when a playoff-clincher is scored off a hand pass.
Everything is subject to review? Everything? Or just the one, two or three challenges we arbitrarily decide to dole out to each team in the wake of the NHL’s latest officiating fiasco that ruined Game 3 of the San Jose-St. Louis series, when the overtime winner was scored as a result of a hand pass everyone except the four on-ice officials saw with their own eyes as it transpired?
Reviewing every scoring play will destroy spontaneous reactions from the fans and celebrations from the athletes. It will turn the game into something else altogether, because we’re not just reviewing every scoring play, are we? We are reviewing major penalties, we are reviewing minor penalties that should be majors (or no?), we are reviewing hand-pass infractions, we are reviewing pucks that might have hit the netting, we are reviewing …
Well, we are reviewing everything except why NHL officiating is in a state of crisis. We are not reviewing protocols. And we are not reviewing the performance of Colin Campbell and Stephen Walkom, the two league executives charged with overseeing and running the operation. Of course not. We’re just demanding more video review.
Let’s give all the calls to Toronto — where, of course, the decisions coming out of Review Central have all made so much sense; and by the way, I defy you to explain how that off-the-skate goal scored by Devon Toews in the final seconds of the second period of the second Islanders-Carolina match was disallowed. But why should the league stop with Toronto making every subjective call? Why not outsource the job to India?
Review it all? If that’s the case, then what is the incentive for on-ice officials to make the correct calls if their mistakes can be reversed? Why call offside if it’s too close to call when technology will almost immediately — or at some point — come to the rescue?
You want to add a third referee off the ice who would have the power to override calls in real time by blowing a horn or something to stop play? So this ref, who presumably would be able to detect just about any infraction, would beep for a missed tripping minor, or only for … well, for what? If it is about getting it right, it necessarily must be about getting it all right. Except it won’t be.
The answer to this officiating mess that has been a long time coming is not to dramatically expand video review, but to dramatically improve the performance of the referees and linesmen working the games. It is to provide them with better direction, perhaps a new protocol. It is to revamp the officiating department, and that means starting at the top.
Was going to ask a week or two ago if Sebastian Aho was the league’s best-kept secret, but I bet the question will be answered when Carolina’s brilliant 21-year-old winger hits restricted free agency July 1 after going from 49 points to 65 to 83 and recording an aggregate 197 points (83 G, 114 A) in 242 games over his first three seasons.
Brad Marchand has transformed into more of a wise guy than a menace, which does represent a rather significant step for the winger who, by the way, has emerged as a no-doubt top-10 player in the league.
Finally, there aren’t many guys who can go through four-plus decades in this game and leave it with as many friends as the unanimously popular Jim Schoenfeld, who stepped down this week as Rangers assistant general manager and who has earned all of the happy trails that lay in front of him.
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