Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Less Is Way More

It's a sixty-minute game with two fifteen-minute intermissions. Professional hockey game, with commercial breaks, should stretch into two hours with the occasional game perhaps needing a little longer for stoppages and overtime. With the announcement that the NHL was expanding video review for officials to review calls on the ice, hockey is now getting into baseball territory with games potentially lasting three hours or longer. Honestly, if this is how the sport is going to played at the professional level, count me out. I love the game, but I have other things I want to do in my life than sit around and watch the guys in stripes review calls for minutes at a time.

I get that in professional hockey a wrong call can cost a team millions of dollars in revenue. It seemingly happened this spring when the NHL backpedalled on its officials in the San Jose-Vegas series when Cody Eakin was handed a major penalty for his bump on Joe Pavelski, and Vegas lost that series in overtime. I won't get into the fact that Vegas also held a 3-1 series lead against San Jose and a 3-0 lead in that game before the call was made, but Vegas can certainly claim that they missed out on potential revenue due to a call that the NHL admitted was wrong.

The problem, and Beans and I discussed this on The Hockey Show, is that video review is being used way too often for the wrong things. Egregious off-sides was what the intended purpose of the off-side review was for, but we're getting coaches who want to examine the millimeter-thickness of skate blades being across the line before the puck. Yes, I suppose that's an off-side, but if you can't visually see it without advancing frame by frame through the video, it wouldn't have been caught by the officials anyway, and the review wastes up to ten minutes of time as the officials and the video review booth queue up replay after replay after replay on the umpteen camera angles they have.

If we now allow officials to stop the game and review missed calls or calls that coaches disagree with, we've lost the human element in the game. We can't expect officials to not err on occasion - they're human too! And while I get that wrong calls can be costly, but what the NHL wants is an unreasonable expectation for its officials. If the players and coaches aren't perfect, why do we demand that the officials be perfect? They strive to be as close to perfect each and every time they pull on the striped uniform, but there's a human element to the game that we're losing by foisting more video review opportunities upon the officials.

Perfection is impossible in a game where mistakes lead to goals. Let the officials operate in the same vein as the players by having less things to review. If NHL games start going longer than three hours, I'm out.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: