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Should the NHL institute a Challenge System for Coaches?


Every single team in the National Hockey League, not just the Tampa Bay Lightning, has been met with for lack of a more polite term ‘less than stellar’ officiating at one time or another. This begs the question, should the NHL institute a challenge system for the coaches?

Oct 19, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; NHL referee Chris Rooney (5) signals a delay of game penalty during the first period of the Nashville Predators at the Montreal Canadiens game at the Bell Centre. The predators won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

At least once a week, sometimes once a game, we see a referee that people, not just players and coaches, but fans and commentators as well, see either miss a call or make a questionable call that may or may not be entirely valid.

Right now, the players and their coaches have next to no recourse for a crappy call.

Heck, most of the time when a player or coach voices their opinion on a controversial call there ends up being additional penalties assessed or ejections from the game.

Last night when the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, one of those ‘questionable calls’ was made.

Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas had fallen to the ice after slamming into the boards. While Gudas still laid on the ice preparing to get up, Panthers left wing Scottie Upshall decides that it is the best course of action, and of course the most mature, to take his water bottle and squirt Gatorade on the ice, and furthermore, right on Gudas.

While I will contend that Gudas’ reaction may not have been the best course of action after that; however, think about it from his prospective. You just slammed into the boards, you’re probably not feeling too hot at the moment, you are trying to get yourself back together to get back into the game, and someone decides to act like they are 12 and start squirting you with things…I mean, really?

So when Gudas makes it to his feet, words were exchanged just before Gudas slammed his stick into the boards, breaking it in two. He didn’t make contact with any of the players and no one was injured from the incident; however, Gudas was assessed with 22 minutes in penalties for the incident; Upshall sat pretty with 2.

Gudas received a 2 minute minor for Slashing. While I believe that this is a bit of a stretch, especially since he never made contact with a player, but I can live with that. He was also assessed a 10 minute Misconduct penalty, which from a small sense I can almost see, but still quite excessive considering the nature of the incident. On top of all that, he was assessed a Game Misconduct for yet another 10 minutes. Ideally, he was ejected from the game, when he never even made contact with a player.

Twenty two minutes in penalties because someone decided that they wanted to act like a child. I guess, at the end of the day, good for them. They were able to neutralize one of the Lightning’s most valuable, hard hitting defensemen, leaving the Bolts with only 5 defensemen to play another 30 minutes of hockey, all the while only serving 2 minutes themselves.

Lightning Head Coach tried to reason with the referee, but as usual, it was to no avail.

While Gudas is not totally without blame in this situation, 22 minutes is quite excessive for an incident that never even involved contact with a player. Had there been some sort of a challenge system in place, Cooper could have challenged the ruling on the ice and possibly not have had to spend the next 30 minutes down a defenseman.

This is clearly not the only time that an incident like this has occurred. As much as I would like to put this 100% on the referees, like I know all of us are inclined to do when a botched call is made, the simple point of the matter is that the referees cannot be everywhere at once, and sometimes things are missed.

This is where a challenge system could positively affect the course of the game. It would also help the referees redirect some of the ire that they draw from players, coaches, and fans alike when a controversial call is made.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Make sure to sound off in the comments why you support your decision on the matter.

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