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Kill the Penalty. . and the Groundswell for More Review

April 30, 2019, 9:09 AM ET [3 Comments]
Jay Greenberg
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The Golden Knight’s penalty kill gives up four power play goals in one five-minute penalty and therefore we should expand the use of replay so that the next time the officials get it right?

Never mind they did get it correct in the unbiased majority, viewpoint, viewpoint being the definitive word on calls that rarely are absolutely definitive.

You can never get it correct beyond any vestige of doubt on judgment calls, whether they are reviewed one time or ten times or never at all. Evidence of this is the number of times you are surprised, if not infuriated, by a Toronto situation room ruling on goaltending interference, which, by the way, has become hardly worth reviewing anymore now that the number of goal overturns has been shrunk by an apparent mid-season directive.

Only the most blatant ones get changed now, which was what was promised when replay was put in and then expanded. So hooray for that, the fewer changes of calls the better. In person or on a screen, they still are subjective and always will be, no matter how good the technology becomes or whatever precedents are set, good or bad, by rulings of anonymous persons in a Toronto room.

So giving further information to the officials on the ice who were left to wonder how Joe Pavelski wound up on his back bleeding would have enabled them to do . . . what? Confirm they made the right call when there is no absolute right call, as your prospective negative reaction to this column–or any 30 seconds on Twitter–will confirm beyond all reasonable doubt? It’s all a matter of opinion and another layer of it hardly guarantees getting it right.

Kill the damn penalty, Vegas —four power play goals on one major, are you kidding me? And kill the talk of more delays in the action that really won’t eliminate any controversy, which, by the way can be a good thing because controversies generally build interest in the game anyway.

At practically every commercial break, the woman on the phone in the credit card commercial urges us to, “Let it go!” So here I go, needing to scream before beginning to snore.

Stop slowing down the world’s fastest game with reviews on top of reviews, the super slow-mos being not so super upon further reflection, as we look and look and look from every viewpoint o see if skate is on, or over, the blueline.

Shoot me. No, better yet, shoot the winger on the far side who doesn’t make sure the puck beat him over the line. Then, please make an overturned challenge a major so the coaches have a lot to lose, like hockey loses from being turned into final minutes of basketball games, what with all the foul giving, reviewing last touches on out-of-bounds plays at the scorers’ tables, and our personal favorite, two time-outs before the same in-bound. Arrrgghhhh!

If I want to be bored, I’ll go to a Lou Lamoriello press conference. It’s hard enough for fans of the Senators to watch an entire game. You want to prop toothpicks under their eyelids for another five minutes of absolutely nothing? Aren’t they suffering enough?

We like video review. To see if the puck went into the net or not that is. If the goalie’s equipment obscures the view, then, fine, it still was worth the effort. Everything else does not merit the time spent trying to get it right because again, there is no absolute right to be pursued by more delays and camera shots of coaches looking at their tablets.

Too many things in the game have already been changed that didn’t need altering.
Safety, we’re all in on anything new, as long it is well thought out, and more importantly, subject to removal, if it turns out not what the great thinkers of the game believed it was going to be. But tinkers in the rules and on the rink? Too many bad changes linger, when the league would have been better off to let so-called problems in the game fix themselves through evolution, rather than legislation.

Scoring is down? Gotta do something! Let’s open up more space behind the goal by moving out the goalline, never mind the advice of the master of the passout, Wayne Gretzky, that it wouldn’t juice scoring at all. He proved right, of course.

Trapezoid? Just more lines on the ice that penalize skill, similar to the elimination of the four-on-four in the eighties, a rule passed almost entirely because the Oilers were too good at it. The league put four-on-four back, thankfully, like it should reinstall the red line, its removal not opening up the ice as hoped, but actually closing it down, as predicted by any number of long-time college coaches. The attempt to inspire more home run passes only made the defensemen more cautious about getting up in the play. Goal scoring in the NHL continued to decline.

Now it is on the upswing, thank goodness, without really making any more changes, except for shrinking the goalie’s equipment in light of the impossibility of shrinking Andrei Vasilevskiy or Ben Bishop.

Thank goodness the NHL hasn’t made the goals bigger just because some goalies are big in addition to being really good. More shooters than ever can pick top corners now, and offensive coaching has caught up to defensive coaching so goals per game have climbed and naturally, too, just like, naturally, referees make mistakes. If most would agree that a particular call was clearly wrong, well then it is a game of mistakes, just like players make and just like the rules committee has over the years.

Maybe it would have been nice for the officials to be able to check with Toronto to see if Colton Parayko’s clear over the glass in the final minute Monday night was deflected. We actually think that kind of call, a clear cut one, should go added to a short list of ones subject to review. The officials huddle–and they got it right– took as long as calling Toronto. But two minutes vs. five minutes? The refs can do that without help.

It promised so much to use the technology at hand so that the better team has a better chance to win. But Pandora’s box has become a penalty box, visited almost as often as Tom Wilson does. Integrity in the results hasn’t been saved; on the contrary it is questioned as much as ever, while the ecstasy of a goal has been curtailed at the fear of the agony of it being taken away.

Yea! We scored! Uh, hope so. And the ultimate game of spontaneity is diminished as we have to look and look for something that’s almost never definitively there. If there is going to be any change coming out of what happened in Game Seven at San Jose, let it be the PK coach in Vegas, not the rules.
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