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The NHL should not expand video review

Can the NHL expand video review and still keep the human element of the refs?

Winnipeg Jets v St Louis Blues - Game Six Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The NHL is going to look into expanding video review in light of a couple controversial missed calls in the playoffs. This would be a gross overreaction to human error and one step closer to robot referees which is what some people clearly want for the league. Human error is what happens in the game frequently and yet we expect perfection from our on-ice officials. That unrealistic expectation is leading the NHL to explore expanding video replay after this post-season.

The advent of video replay can be traced back to one specific Matt Duchene play in 2018. While there was the discussion of video replay before then, Duchene being grossly offside was the final straw that broke the camels back. The goal was a lot and the outcry from the missed call was massive. See the goal for yourself:

Here’s the problem with it leading to video review: it is one goal, but because it was such a missed call there was an outcry in the media about it and what eventually came out of that outcry was video replay which included off-side reviews.

Off-side reviews might be the most tedious and pointless of all the reviews there are. The officials are usually looking for millimetres of air between skate blades and the ice, sometimes well before the goal is scored. That is not the spirit of the rule nor is it the spirit of video review overall. Reviewing off-sides often means nitpicking for little spaces between skate blades and the ice instead of onerous moments like Matt Duchene in the earlier video.

The NHL has one other major problem with video review: it is not very consistent at all. When it comes to goaltender interference calls, it usually seems like a coin flip as to which way the call will go. If the league cannot have a predictable and consistent video review system when it functions in a limited capacity, why would they expand it to find more missed calls? It seems counter-productive and will only slow the game down more.

The NHL has to understand that their referees are humans and will make mistakes. They can decide to add review (or third party input) on major penalties for example, but to expand video review when all it does is slow the game down seems to go against making the game more fan friendly.