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NHL general managers to discuss coach's challenge at meetings

Offside rule, impact of crackdown on slashing also on agenda

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The coach's challenge for goaltender interference is among the topics on the agenda for the NHL general managers meetings Monday through Wednesday at Boca Beach Club.

"Obviously, this year, while there continues to be a high level of satisfaction and pride with where the game is and how competitive the product is, I think everybody is looking at the meeting as a valuable opportunity to discuss the coach's challenge for goaltender interference," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "Is it working? How can we make it better? How can we make it more consistent? Are there things we can be doing better? Those are all things that I'm sure will generate lots of opinions and lots of discussion. I'm looking forward to it."

The NHL, initially at the request of the GMs, approved prior to the start of the 2015-16 season an expansion of video review to include coach's challenges for goals scored off plays that potentially involved goaltender interference and offside.

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A group featuring members of the NHL Hockey Operations Department, officials, coaches and general managers met Jan. 27 during 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa Bay to discuss goaltender interference and reviews.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the consensus of that meeting was the League needed to give a refresher to officials to not search for something that might overturn an initial call of a good goal on the ice, but instead to look to see if there is a better call to be made.

"Take a good look, but don't search to death," Commissioner Bettman said at the time. "The presumption should be the call on the ice was good unless you have a good reason to overturn it, and you shouldn't have to search for a good reason."

But goaltender interference is still drawing close attention from the League, GMs and coaches, some of whom have publicly asked for clarification to the rule and the review process because of indecision they have on when to challenge.

"It's about always trying to get better and coming up with different avenues to do it," St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. "What our job responsibility is as managers is to try and evolve with the game to make it as consistent as possible. That's what I think we're working towards, and I give the League credit, they're pushing and prodding and trying to make it that way.

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"This is the evolution of the rule. It's hard to talk too much about it until you hear everyone's opinion."

The GMs aren't going into the meetings with the intention of trying to make a recommendation for significant changes to the goaltender interference rule or the review process because of the subjective nature of the call.

"Regardless of how a call is made or the determination, you're always going to have a dissenting point of view," Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving said. "Certainly, when your team is involved, you try to be partial, try to look at it objectively, but it's normal and conceivable that you're looking through your team lens on it. That tends to skew it. It'll be a good conversation and I'm sure we'll leave there, everybody, with a refresher and more clarity than when we arrived."

The GMs will also discuss the offside rule, potentially to look for a more liberal interpretation of possession and to determine if skates off the ice should be deemed onside if they have broken the vertical plane of the blue line.

In addition, the GMs will be updated on how the League-mandated crackdown on slashes to the hands has impacted the game this season, and they are expected to discuss the nature of fights that occur after hits that are deemed to be clean.

"I expect a thorough and healthy discussion, as always, on all aspects of the game," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "It's a unique opportunity for the group of individuals who live this game every day to spend time together and discuss the state of the game and the League, what's working well and what can be done better."

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