If only the NHL allowed video review. Last Tuesday, during their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks, the Las Vegas Golden Knights were all but headed to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Then something happened.
At the 10:47 mark of the third period, during the faceoff, Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin cross-checked Sharks forward Joe Pavelski in the chest, he was finished off by Paul Stastny. While falling to the ice, Pavelski hits his head, causing an injury.
Originally, neither NHL official (Dan O’Halloran or Eric Furlatt) called a penalty on the play, but after huddling, they decided to call a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. Eakin’s night was over, he watched the rest of the game from the Golden Knights locker room.
Why not just use video to review the play? Ah, but they can’t. Unlike college hockey, the NHL doesn’t have a video review policy. Not for major penalties.
On the ensuing five-minute power play, the Golden Knights 3-0 lead evaporated into a 4-3 deficit. Vegas fans melted down on Twitter. Bad call or not, giving up four goals on a five-minute major is the reason the Golden Knights lost the game. The refs are an easy scapegoat.
First, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but college hockey is looking a heck of a lot smarter after this sequence of events. If the NHL had a video replay policy in play, the on-ice officials could’ve reviewed the play and made the proper call. Based on the information that O’Halloran and Furlatt had, they probably felt they’d made the correct call. Oh, but they had to pay. The keyboard warriors demanded that.
The following day, the NHL apologized to the Golden Knights.
According to Scouting the Refs, the two referees from Game 7 – Eric Furlatt and Dan O’Halloran – have been benched for the remainder of the playoffs.
Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic had a proposal to fix this problem.
Rather than have only two types of plays subject to a coach’s video challenge – goals that are potentially offside and goalie interference – you amend the rule to make every play subject to review, or at the very least, major penalties like the one incorrectly assessed against Eakin.
Duhatschek’s proposal seems reasonable. Now, it’s up to the NHL GM’s to decide if they want to enter the modern era.
Starting during the 2018-19 college hockey season, on-ice officials were allowed to go back and review a questionable play for a possible major penalty, even if no penalty was called on the ice. In addition, two-minute minors could also be reviewed for a possible major penalty.
In retrospect, college hockey got it right. Did a few games get slowed down due to video review? Yep. However, in most cases, the on-ice officials got the call right. The NHL could adopt the same policy, and they should.