What are Coach’s Challenges in the NHL

What are Coach’s Challenges in the NHL?

Ice hockey is like a bullet speed game. Because the game is running at high velocity, it’s natural that the referee missed calls many times. This is the reason that NHL presented the coach’s challenging rules in the game. A coach can use a challenge rule if they feel that the referee has missed the call. It can vary from a simple offside play to a major penalty.

There is the quote that “change is the only constant,” and this perfectly fits when it comes to the coach challenging rules because the way NHL handles this rule constantly updates and tweaks it. Lets’ take a look at the latest one from the 2019-20 season. 

A coach can challenge the call when he thinks a goal is scored as a result of an offside play and a call has been missed by the referee that could result in a game stoppage or can challenge a goal or no goal depending on the goalie interference call. Then NHL officials will do a video review to verify whether the goal is OK. The team will get a minor penalty if the coach is wrong.

Lets’ get into the details of hockey coach challenges.

Evolution of Coach Challenges Rules

Back in the 2015-16 season, the NHL brought the coach challenges rules based on two conditions: 

  1. Offside challenges
  2. Goalkeeper interference

If a goal has been scored.

At that time, it felt necessary that some goals must be video reviewed to confirm that the scored goals were legitimate or not, to avoid controversies when many say that a goal should not be counted. That’s why the NHL to go deep into the water and give access not only to the referee but to the coach to do a video review only in limited situations. At that time, the consequence of a failed challenge would cost a team to lose a timeout. If the team does not have a timeout, they cannot call a challenge.

Now, the NHL has updated the rule by adding the missed calls along with above mentioned two conditions and changed the consequence from timeout to a 2-minute minor penalty if the challenge is not true. Also, coaches now have an unlimited number of challenges.

Earlier, when the rule was new, it faced backlash, too, because the rule had the potential to cancel a goal and change the game dramatically.

Goalie Interference Challenge

A coach is allowed to challenge the call when he believes that the goalie interfered in scoring a goal or when he thinks that a confirmed goal is refrained because of goaltender involvement.

When a player is near the goaltender, many suspicions can occur about the scene, and it’s not clear whether a player touched the goalie or not. If yes, then either the action is deliberate or accidental. Due to its many variations, it’s hard to figure out for the coaches, players, and analysts whether the referee will announce a goal or not.

Hence, goalie interference is the commonly used reason to use a coach challenge. Still, sometimes it lies far away from clarification that how will referee call a goal no matter how many times they watched a video. That’s why the coach not only relies on what his eyes saw, but he is in contact with the video coach to have the validity of the goal. Although, they have only 30-seconds to process this.

Offside Challenges

A coach can challenge a goal if he thinks that a goal is scored due to an offside play. Remember that the only goal will be checked in at the entry past the blue track forwarding that goal. Other than this entry, all entries before this point during the shift will be omitted from a video review.

Simply, a coach is not allowed to challenge the offside that occurred a minute before the goal in which the puck at least goes up and down onto the ice three times.

Hockey is more like a fighter jet speed game, so there lies the potential that a goal can be scored after that. But how will you see this play to get determined to challenge?

The only point coaches try to examine when challenging an offside potential missed call is that they are only inch fractions of an offside. And a team of officials will be there looking on their iPad, checking if it was an offside play or not. Then will signal the coach to challenge the play.

A team for the verification of offside play to challenge is necessary because coaches need to ensure that the challenge is correct; otherwise, the team will get a 2-minute minor penalty. And if this happens more than once, then there will be an addition of penalty time, which means a total of 4-minutes penalties. Before the update of this rule, the team feels not have many regrets about losing a timeout to challenge the play. Therefore, NHL updates this rule changing it to a minor penalty to limit the challenges and more goal scoring on the board.    

  • 2021 Offside Rule Updations

The NHL updated the offside rule, noticing that lots of goals were taken away because a player lifted their skates a second earlier in an attempt that had no effect on the goal if it scored or not. Hence, the NHL has assured that the skate must be onto the ice or above the blue line allowing a player to stand onside.

This rule would definitely increase the number of goals on board, thus reducing the coach challenges.

Missed Calls That Can Be the Reason for Play Stoppage

The new reason that has been added to call the challenge is the missed call that might result in a play stoppage if a goal has been scored.

Like in cases where the puck hits the net via glass or the offensive team did a hand pass to score a goal, and then the puck comes back in the play, and officials carry on the game (when they should be whistled down the game immediately). Then the coach is allowed to challenge the resulted goal.

But the challenge cannot be called and reviewable if it happens in the neutral zone or in the defensive zone of the opposing team. This happened back in the 2018-19 playoffs, where the San Jose Shark won the game because of a hand pass in the overtime of the Conference Finals. But all thanks to the NHL, the Blues won the series in the end, or else, one can imagine the protest in St. Louis in case that goal gave them a chance in the Stanley Cup. If a coach challenge was there, then play instantly could have been called back.

How Many Number Of Coach Challenges do They Have?

They have had countless coach challenges since the 2019-20 season, but can they challenge every goal? Yes, why not, as it is worth a shot! However, there is a catch in this unlimited number of challenges which I mentioned earlier; if the challenge goes wrong, then the team will receive a 2-minute minor penalty. And the further subsequent wrong challenges will be added to the previous minor penalty time. This means the 2-minute penalty will become a 4-minute penalty.

Before this new change (in the 2015-16 season), the team had to use its timeout to call a challenge, and if it became wrong, then the team would lose a timeout.

So, the coach should call a challenge when there is some authenticity. If not, then they have to pay the price. Imagine, 5-minutes left in a game to end, and the coach challenges a call while they have already proved wrong before, and they fail the challenge again, then the team would be shorthanded for the 4-minutes. This can become a key point between losing and winning a game.

Success Rate of Coach Challenges

Look at the list below, and you will notice that coaches did well in offside challenges calls compared to goalie interference calls challenges. This is not something to be surprised about because it is clear whether you are on offside or not. On the other hand, the goaltender interference is pretty subjective as there are lots of interpretations involved in it. So. The referee will only call it when there is authentic evidence to overturn the goal.

The stats of the NHL 2018-19 season of how well the coaches have done are given below.

  • Total Goals 186 – 68 overturned goals (37%), 118 upheld.
    • Goalie Interference: 114 – 86 upheld, 28 canceled. Out of goals overturned calls, 25 went on to ‘no goal’ while three from ‘no goal to goal.’ 
    • Offside Challenges: 65 – 25 upheld, 40 are overturned goals (62%).
  • Goals Lost Due to Challenge
    • 6 – COL, DET
    • 5 – ARI, LAK, VGK
    • 4 – BOSS, CGY, NYI
    • 3 – MTL, NSH, OTT
    • 2 – CHI, NYR, PHI, TOR, WPG
    • 1 – BUF, FLA, PIT, SJS, VAN, WSH, TBL
    • 0 – CAR, ANA, DAL, MIN, CBJ, EDM, STL, MIN

The Bottom Line on What are Coach’s Challenges in the NHL?

Coach challenges rules are introduced into the game to maintain the play’s fair balance. Because it is so frustrating to see a goal scored when it should not be, and the referee missed it. As everyone would bash the officials of not putting adequate rules to avoid controversies and troubles.

Henceforth, the NHL presented these rules, allowing coaches with the referees to do the video review of missed calls if the game can be overturned. But coaches must use these challenges only when they have sufficient clues to make their challenges successful. Because it can get into their opposite, causing their team a 2-minute minor penalty which can affect their game-winning probability in case there are subsequently failed challenges too.

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