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No rest for NHL hockey ops for 2009 NHL Face-Off

Friday, 10.02.2009 / 2:39 PM / 2009 NHL Face-off

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"It seems like a daunting task, but it won't really be any more of a challenge than we've faced in the past. In previous seasons when we've had 15 games on one night, those games were all grouped together. This year, the bulk of the work will feature nine games (eight at 7 p.m. and one at 8) grouped together since we'll have three early games and three late games."
-- NHL Senior Vice-President Mike Murphy

The "war room" in downtown Toronto will be humming on Saturday as the NHL kicks off the opening weekend of the 2009-10 season with 15 games featuring all 30 teams.

"It's an exciting day and it'll absolutely fly by, but our focus is not just on the games in general, but the issues within the games, the video reviews and how these games are being managed," NHL Senior Vice-President Mike Murphy told NHL.com.

While it certainly won't be the first time Murphy and his staff, consisting of former players, officials and current scouts, will be thrown into the fire, this year's version of Face-Off Saturday offers a European twist.

"It'll be interesting this year because we've never had a Super Saturday where games were held overseas," Murphy said.

The Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge puts a wrinkle into the travel plans for some of those usual war room aficionados.

2009 NHL Face-Off begins at noon ET when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers face off in Helsinki. There, Murphy has Kris King, senior director of hockey operations, and John Sedgewick, the hockey operations video room detail connoisseur, running the show.

In Stockholm, where the Detroit Red Wings are scheduled to battle the St. Louis Blues at 3 p.m. ET, hockey operations vets Kay Whitmore and Damian Echevarrieta will work closely in relaying information back to Murphy in the control center at NHL offices in Toronto.

"It seems like a daunting task, but it won't really be any more of a challenge than we've faced in the past," Murphy said. "In previous seasons when we've had 15 games on one night, those games were all grouped together. This year, the bulk of the work will feature nine games (eight at 7 p.m. and one at 8) grouped together since we'll have three early games and three late games."

The final game on the docket at Staples Center in Los Angeles will feature the Kings playing host to the Phoenix Coyotes at 10:30 p.m. ET

"The big test will be how my guys in Europe can relay information back to me after working with the European tech people, the video goal judge and those officials there," Murphy added.

Murphy is confident war room operations will run smoothly in Toronto, where he'll be joined by, among others, Senior Executive Vice-President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell; coordinator of video hockey ops Tim Campbell and director of hockey operations and NHL Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire.

It won't be the first time this season where all 30 clubs will be in action either as the hockey operations department will reload and do it all over again on Oct. 24 -- minus four round-trip tickets overseas of course.

In 2005-06, the season-opening 15-game slate on a Wednesday featured seven one-goal games, one shootout and one shutout. There were also three games scheduled the following day -- something Hatze-Petros was cognizant about last season when he declared Sunday an off day following a full slate of games on Oct. 25. Last season, three games were decided by shootout, two went to overtime and 10 contests were decided by one goal -- pretty dramatic stuff.

Similar to 2008-09, Sunday will be an off-day for all 30 clubs once again this season.

"There might be a little bit of bedlam," Murphy said. "If we begin having review upon review, that could make it tough. During that process, I often require the guys working (in the war room) to offer their opinion. That means they'll be watching less of their game at that time in order to help out on the review, but we always solve it. The biggest problem is if you ever have two reviews going on at the same time because then it takes everyone away from what they're doing for a short period and that's when something could be missed. But we also rely heavily on the video goal judges, making sure they're doing their part in watching the game and the play around the net."
"The biggest problem is if you ever have two reviews going on at the same time because then it takes everyone away from what they're doing for a short period and that's when something could be missed. But we also rely heavily on the video goal judges, making sure they're doing their part in watching the game and the play around the net." - NHL Senior Vice-President Mike Murphy
What most fans don't realize is every goal scored in the NHL this season will be reviewed inside the war room. Only those questionable goals, such as those coming off a high stick or a skate, would require an additional video review.

"Everyone will be alert, attentive and sharp," Murphy said. "We want everybody to pay attention to every detail happening in their game. There's a need to focus on your game because there's not a lot of mobility for someone to help you out with the number of games on tap. We're confident and looking forward to it."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com

Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season