Several years ago, the NHL introduced goal reviews for goaltender interference. The league’s heart was in the right place with the new challenges, but officials’ determinations for what is and isn’t goaltender interference has varied widely. Lately, several overturned goal calls have caused exasperation and heartburn for many coaches, players, and fans.
Top: Monday night, ruled goaltender interference
Bottom: Thursday night, ruled not interference pic.twitter.com/7acHsOQXNU
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 25, 2018
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) January 26, 2018
On Saturday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the issue during All-Star weekend in Tampa, Florida.
“Overall, the system works, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s overthinking the review,” Bettman said. “The intention, particularly on goaltender interference, is: ‘Did you miss something?’ ‘Was there a glaring error?’ Not, ‘Can you search for something that might overturn the call?'”
“The presumption should be the call on the ice was good unless you have a good reason to overturn it, and you shouldn’t have to search for a good reason,” Bettman concluded.
Bettman also spoke about upcoming expansion plans. Bettman indicated that the league’s 32nd team, Seattle, will get the same expansion draft rules as Vegas did.
Bettman’s full converation with the media is below.
GARY BETTMAN: Good afternoon, everyone. In the past 25 years I’ve had the opportunity to do a fair number of interesting and unusual things, although until today, I had never handed a key to a city to someone in a pirate costume. So I’d like to thank the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the City of Tampa, and everyone involved in making that memorable moment happen.
Looking ahead to next season, you already know the schedule of outdoor games. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will play the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
I’m pleased to announce that the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend will be hosted by San Jose, on January 26-27, 2019.Of course, we’re looking forward to bringing the All-Star festivities back to San Jose for the first time since 1997.
Brief update on next season’s international plans: In mid-September, we intend to travel two teams to China to play two preseason games and continue the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China games. Details are being worked out with the Players’ Association; discussions are ongoing. So that’s all I can give you right now on China. That is a work in progress.
In late September, the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers each will play one preseason game overseas against local teams. The Devils will play in Switzerland and the Oilers in Germany. Then they’ll play each other in their regular season opener in Sweden. In addition, the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers will head to Finland in early November for two regular season games. That will continue our global series.
We’re still finalizing a lot of details on the specific cities, arenas, and dates for these games and we’ll keep you posted as developments develop.
You were talking about the Vegas Golden Knights, and we all know there were many factors if are their success. But first and foremost is the more favorable expansion draft set-up. I wonder if you could take us back when this was being discussed and where you thought was going to happen, did it work out the way you thought? And more importantly, did you see enough positive results to commit to doing this if you’re going to expand moving ahead?
GARY BETTMAN: I have no doubt, going in reverse order, I have no doubt if there is going to be another expansion team they are going to insist on having the same expansion terms. I think that’s crystal clear. I think George McPhee did an outstanding job of using the rules. We knew the team would be better. The goal was to make the team competitive at its inception, and there is a great mix of talent that’s bonded very well. It’s clear they hired the right coach for the right time and the right group.
And I’ve also said this regularly, what has gone on in Las Vegas in the wake of a terrible tragedy, I think, has this team playing on a bit of a mission. They’ve been part of the unity and healing of Las Vegas since the shootings in early October. I was there opening night which was extraordinarily emotional, and it is crystal clear that the players who were so great in terms of going into the community and being part of the healing process, that the bonding that has gone on is something that’s extraordinary in this short a period of time. I think on some level the players are on a bit of a mission.
BILL DALY: I think the owners and the clubs also deserve a lot of credit for supporting the expansion draft rules. Certainly it was our objective to make the expansion team stronger than it had been traditionally or historically. Our owners on our Executive Committee in the first instance, and ultimately the Board of Governors, embraced that as an objective, and I think we were pretty successful.
GARY BETTMAN: To add on to what Bill said, we haven’t gotten any negative pushback. I think most clubs are marveling at what’s been accomplished.
I’m sure the original plan would have probably been to be able to announce more on the China games, given you announced the European games. Can you address what’s holding that up at this point?
GARY BETTMAN: As you know we do events, international events jointly with the Players’ Association. We partner together, and we need to make sure as we go through this process that both sides are comfortable with all the details. And rather than rush things or even announce something unilaterally, we want to make sure our partners and we are in sync.
BILL DALY: There are obviously more logistical challenges associated with international games than international travel, and taking a little longer to work out than we would have hoped.
I guess it would be fair to say there’s been a bit of confusion lately regarding goaltender interference. Probably in the last week you’ve had two of the young, great players in this league essentially show up officials because of it. Wondering where you sit on that. Is it something that can be tightened up, and are we going to see any consistency on this?
GARY BETTMAN: It’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it. We just had a meeting, Colie Campbell put it together with hockey operations, and there were a couple officials there and some coaches that happened to be in town, some general managers and guys who work with Colie in hockey operations. When you say a bit of confusion, that’s right. Overall, the system works, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s overthinking the review. The intention, particularly on goaltender interference, is: ‘Did you miss something?’ ‘Was there a glaring error?’ Not, ‘Can you search for something that might overturn the call?’ And I think the consensus of the meeting, although Bill can jump in because I had to leave a little early: it’s really more we need to give a refresher and we’ll send a memo to the officials. Take a quick look, but don’t search it to death.
The presumption should be the call on the ice was good unless you have a good reason to overturn it, and you shouldn’t have to search for a good reason.
BILL DALY: The language of the rule, it’s 78.7, I think, it was actually pretty clear. We refreshed everyone in the room with respect to the language of the rule and intention of the rule, and that’s going to be reemphasized to the officials.
Speaking of Nassau County, what is your assessment of Nassau Coliseum and what has to be done to make it NHL ready even on a part-time basis?
GARY BETTMAN: I actually went on a tour of this last week. There are a variety of things that have to be upgraded, whether it’s the locker rooms, and training facilities and the like. That’s something we’re in touch with the Islanders on. The Nassau Coliseum has been given a nice refresh in terms of the way it looks, but it’s still the Nassau Coliseum. So anything that may or may not take place there certainly would have to be on a temporary basis.
BILL DALY: Nothing to add. We had a planning environment sub-committee meeting today, and both Kris King and Dan Craig were there, and they briefed the group on some of the things that need to be done. Not major fixes, but to the Commissioner’s point, it’s not a long-term facility.
Is the eSports league happening?
GARY BETTMAN: Oh, you mean for us?
GARY BETTMAN: Our goal is to unveil something before the end of the regular season, which would have a series of competitions using the EA Games, and we’ll have more details when we’re ready to launch.
There is a report today that the Oak View Group is close to sending in their paperwork for an expansion franchise. If that is the case, what is the time line going forward? And as far as the league is concerned, what is the additive quality for the existing franchise in Vancouver to have a team down the road?
GARY BETTMAN: Well, Vancouver says they’re very excited about the possibility of having a geographic rival. The good people in Seattle who are in pursuit potentially of an expansion franchise have told us that they are working on the expansion application and they anticipate being ready to file it in the not-too-distant future. The timetable in terms of filing the expansion application, doing season ticket drive, is largely up to them. We can respond to the extent that we’re getting the information we need on a timely basis, whatever that timetable is, so that we can go through the processes that we have.
So, when you next ask me what are the attributes of Seattle, hopefully we’ll have done enough homework — if this is moving forward — to be able to answer that question.
Q. Do you think it’s mid-year 2018?
GARY BETTMAN: I don’t want to project because then the clock is running, and this is more about process than timing.
Your position on concussion and CTE has been pretty clear. I just want to know why you came to that conclusion?
GARY BETTMAN: Actually it’s not my position. It’s the position of the medical community and the medical and scientific experts that advise us. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I only know what I’m told, including out of the most recent consensus statement on the International Conference on Sports Concussions in Berlin that was held. You can read those reports. I only repeat in response to a question what those reports say. I’m not the one who is making the determination.
The Olympics are starting pretty soon. I know there is no NHL participation at the moment. Do you foresee that changing down the line?
GARY BETTMAN: I don’t have an answer to that question. The fact is we find, the clubs find, the owners find that the Olympics are very disruptive on our season, and for that and a whole host of reasons we’ve been over repeatedly over the last year or so, it didn’t make sense for us to attend. Could that circumstance change at some point in the future? I suppose so. But it’s not something that we’re currently contemplating.
Just curious, is there anymore discussion on the World Cup and its future and how that might be lying down the road?
GARY BETTMAN: That, like international games in China, is something that we need to do and seek to do in collaboration with the Players’ Association. I think we’d all like to get another World Cup scheduled, because the last one in Toronto was so successful. But we’ve got lots of things that we’re collaborating on, and sometimes they take time.
Can you already say in which city the exhibition game for the Edmonton Oilers will be, and how important is it the German market for the NHL?
BILL DALY: We can’t say which city. We have a good sense of where it’s going to be, but all the logistics and details of the games will be released at a later time.
We think that the German market is a tremendous opportunity for the National Hockey League, NHL players in terms of making an impact in the German market. It’s a great marketplace. It has a hockey tradition. It has a hockey culture. We think we can build on that and add to it. Have a great relationship with the German Ice Hockey Federation. Great relationship with the German Ice Hockey League. Consider them cooperative in this effort, for sure.
(Indiscernible) is only two hours away from Quebec City. Is it still possible for the people of Quebec to be dreaming about a team one day?
GARY BETTMAN: We’re not currently considering an application. I don’t want to make any promises or definitive conclusions. But at the current time we’re not focused on a team in Quebec City. I’m not saying that will never be our focus, but I don’t want to make any promises that could be misconstrued.
With the possibility of another west coast team becoming more realistic, have you considered realignment situations? Would it be drastic? Would it be subtle?
GARY BETTMAN: We’d have a process to go through, if we’re going to go through an expansion evaluation process, and that would be one of the factors. Though based on the numbers and the geography, off the top of my head, that doesn’t strike me as being one of the more complicated issues if expansion is going forward.
Is there a sense of a timeline for how long the Coyotes can be in Glendale and not have a permanent solution arena-wise in terms of their existence?
GARY BETTMAN: Ownership continues to work on the possibilities for a new arena. Ultimately the strength or resilience or persistence of a club depends on ownership’s willingness to continue the pursuit. So my hope and expectation is that things can be worked out in Arizona, and we’re going to continue to focus on it that way.
See, now that Carolina is no longer one that everybody is speculating is going to move — and as I told you, they weren’t going to — I guess everybody is now going to see who they can focus on that. I’m not being critical. My only point is I wouldn’t focus on Arizona moving right now or anytime soon, or maybe ever. So we’re not misconstrued here.
I know we still have a game to go, but overall how do you feel Tampa has responded to having the All-Star Game and Gasparilla here at the same time?
GARY BETTMAN: It’s been sensational. There is a great vibe, a great buzz. The number of people that have come up to me and said, ‘It’s so great to have hockey in Tampa. I’m a season ticket holder and I go to a lot of games.’ Doing it with Gasparilla, as I said in my opening remarks, that was unusual in a very good way. It’s a lot of fun. There is a great vibe here. Tampa is known for its hospitality hosting big events. We’re thrilled to be here, and we’re delighted with the weekend.
With the expected expansion, would that —
GARY BETTMAN: What do you mean expected expansion?
We’ve already moved beyond Seattle?
GARY BETTMAN: No, tell us what else we’re going to do next (laughing).
What impact would that have on a potential playoff format or make any adjustments to the current format?
GARY BETTMAN: I know there are lots of people who think we should put more teams in the playoffs. I’m not one of them. I think we have a very meaningful, competitive regular season and I like it. If we were to add a 32nd team, as I sit here today, not having given it a lot of thought, I can only get myself to trouble, I don’t think I’d be in favor of making any changes in the number of teams that make the playoffs.
Headline photo: Sporting News
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