The biggest debate in the NHL (outside of that ridiculous Hart race) this season has been what, exactly, is goaltender interference. An answer to that question is still open to interpretation, but the NHL is hoping it can quiet the outcry until the offseason by tweaking its coach's challenge procedure.
The league's Board of Governors voted to approve the plan Tuesday, which removes final decision-making power on video reviews from on-ice officials and into the hands of its hockey operations department. A retired former referee from the NHL's officiating management team will be added to the situation room located in Toronto, where they'll be able to weigh in on the decision-making process.
The new policy can be applied to games as of March 28.
Here’s the NHL’s release on the GM’s recommendation for goaltender interference reviews: pic.twitter.com/vrWjAVw87j
— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) March 21, 2018
"No changes are being made to the standard under which goaltender interference is judged," the NHL said in a release last, when the rules tweak was first conceived by league general managers. "Nor will any changes be made to the criteria governing whether on-ice calls should be made."
In other words, the outcome of all reviews remain open to interpretation for goals confirmed or overturned. At various points this season, frustrated NHL fans, players and coaches have called on the league to establish a black-and-white definition of goalie interference, hoping to eliminate controversy that stems from a gray area in the rule book.
"First and foremost, the players want consistency in the application of the ruke, and therefore support this proposed change in order to help accomplish that goal," NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider said in a statement last week..
Previously, Rule 78.7 placed the standard for overturning the call on the ice within referee discretion.
There have been 170 challenges by coaches for goalie interference this season, according to the NHL. Nine of those final calls drew a dissenting opinion from those within the situation room, which advises on-ice officials in their decision but had been unable to override them.
Many pointed to the IIHF's policy as a solution. In international play, goalie interference carries a rigid definition depending on the player who initiates contact — goalie or skater.
The NHL said it will reevaluate goalie interference in the offseason. But for now, this is its band-aid solution.