NHL Rumors: Could a Coach's Challenge Be Coming Soon?

By Emma Harger
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of the NHL adding a coach’s challenge similar to that used in the NFL has been around for at least a few years now, but could it be gaining a new measure of support?

Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon first suggested the idea at the general managers’ meeting in November 2010 and, though it did get a long discussion then, nothing really came of it. Tallon’s version of a coach’s challenge would have just one per game, usable only to protest a disputed goal.

The general managers are gearing up to meet again on March 20 and the idea of a coach’s challenge, which Tallon thought was kind of dead in the water after November 2010, could rise to the surface again. When Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche (above) scored against the Nashville Predators a week ago today, he did it while offside–a coach’s challenge would have allowed Barry Trotz to dispute the goal and ask for it to be reviewed, perhaps by calling up to the war room in Toronto.

Adding fuel to the fire of a call for a coach’s challenge is none other than Mike Murphy, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations. He said that he has no problem with the idea, but that it would need to be done within some pretty clear guidelines so as not to be wholly overused. In his view, goals are the most important thing to look at and he even outlined how a coach’s challenge would have been used in the case of the Duchene goal.

Basically, the challenge would mean referees getting on the phone to Toronto, where they would examine the call on the ice before making an official ruling. Sure, in the end a coach’s challenge may fail, but there would still be the option.

Some factors to consider before creating a coach’s challenge system, though, include considering how many challenges are allowed (unlimited? Only a few? Just one?), what could be challenged, taking incidental contact into account and more.

With the blessing of one of the league’s highest-ranked head honchos, recent events to make the discussion fresh and a meeting of general managers on the docket, a coach’s challenge could become part of the discussion once again. I personally think that allowing coaches one challenge per game–the same amount of challenges as there are time-outs–to use at his discretion would be ideal. Yes, I’m thinking of more than just disputing goals here.

Plus, having a coach’s challenge means that, if a coach gets angry about something, he won’t run the risk of incurring a penalty for mouthing off to the referees about it–he can elect to challenge instead. I’ve seen Claude Julien have that happen to him before and a coach’s challenge could perhaps prevent that in the future.

Who knows? In the end, the issue could be dead in the water just as it was back in 2010. Then again, this time, the discussion could go further.


Emma Harger is a Boston Bruins and NHL writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and add her to your network on Google.

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