The idea of a coach's challenge on replays (similar to the NFL model) came up for some discussion last season. There wasn't much support for the idea at the time. That may be different now, and one of the reasons is the turnover in referees.
A number of experienced officials - including Rob Schick, Don Koharski, Kerry Fraser and Dan Marouelli - have retired since the end of the lockout. Bill McCreary was supposed to join them, but the NHL asked him to stay on for another season.
Last season, a few teams grumbled that the lack of experience was a problem. The Red Wings nearly had an organizational aneurysm on Jan. 16 when a linesman stationed 60 feet from the net overruled the referee along the goal-line to declare this Steve Ott shootout attempt a score. It was the winner in a 3-2 Dallas victory.
That fiasco led to teams demanding that league officials watching in Toronto have the final say in any video decision. Colton Orr's ridiculous game-winner against Florida on Tuesday night re-ignited the debate, especially since it happened right in front of a rookie official.
The game is so fast now. A larger group of inexperienced referees is the same as a team loaded with young players. You're going to get mistakes. The AHL doesn't have enough strong candidates to go with a permanent two-ref system. And, that's why it's important that the NHL is now looking at European candidates. The league must increase the talent pool.
But, right now, you get the sense the teams don't trust the newer guys. I'm not thrilled about replay for this kind of call, but games are so important that similar mistakes will have coaches and GMs looking for ways to take control away from on-ice officials.
1. One more on this subject, and it comes from Rod Francis of Montreal's Team 990. In baseball, basketball and football, if the officials are unsure, they huddle. Why not in the NHL? Colin Campbell had to publicly admit Orr's goal shouldn't have counted. If Stephen Walkom (or one of the linesmen) can go over to Francis Charron and say, "Did you notice the interference?" maybe Campbell doesn't need to do that.
2. Bruins fans start chanting, "Thank you, Kessel" after Tyler Seguin scores against the Maple Leafs. Kessel's reply: "I could care less, to tell you the truth ... It doesn't matter to me one bit." My experience: when someone says that, it bothers them. A lot.
3. Two things about Jarome Iginla: First, there clearly are some high-ranking people in the Calgary organization who want him to go. Second, I was told in the summer that Iginla will not agree to a trade unless the Flames make it public that any move is the team's choice, not his.
4. As of Sunday night, Iginla was tied for 16th with 38 shots. I spent some time looking at them. A few really smart people believe he's become too perimeter-oriented. They have a point. Most of his shots come from near the tops of the faceoff circles, especially on the off-wing. Maybe he knows this, because the last two games saw more attempts from the slot area.
5. Mark Giordano is an incredible story. Six years ago, he was on a three-way contract (one salary for the NHL, one for the AHL and one for the ECHL). Those don't exist anymore. Wonder if more players will follow his route, going to Europe instead of the AHL. He took such a huge chance. The bigger ice surface really improved his lateral movement. He'll earn 250 times more than the $16,000 he was getting on that three-way deal.
6. Giordano might have made more on the open market, but he's happy in Calgary and good on him for recognizing that. (It doesn't hurt that Alberta has a 39 per cent tax rate.) He has a no-move for the first three years of his contract and a no-trade for year four.
7. Henrik Karlsson is not ready to play in the NHL. That doesn't mean he's a lost cause. He just needs coaching and time to familiarize himself with the North American style.
8. Really like the way the Kings are using their goalies. Jonathan Quick gets the games against division opponents. That means backup Jonathan Bernier gets tough challenges, like the Blackhawks. The Kings lost that game, but trusting your backup tends to work very well in the long run.
9. Several teams have said that Newport Sports, the agency run by Don Meehan and Pat Morris, is pretty fair to deal with in a cap world. That's going to be tested with Steve Stamkos and Drew Doughty, restricted free agents after this season. Both are unselfish, team-oriented guys, but franchise-level players.
10. One other concussion note I forgot to mention: A recognized expert said whiplash only causes 1/50th the damage of a hit to the head. I was surprised at that.
11. The Buffalo Sabres say Jason Pominville's return is delayed because he did too well on his pre-season baseline test. Asked players about that, and they said it's usually the opposite. They tend to do poorly in training camp. Why? They are given so many things to fill out that they don't concentrate on the written part of the exam.
12. Sounds like there's going to be a captaincy change in Buffalo. Lindy Ruff sat Craig Rivet, and then talked about how he gave up the "C" in a similar situation in 1989. If so, who gets it? Ryan Miller is very much the boss, but you're not giving it to a goalie. Mike Grier makes a lot of sense, but he's only one year younger than Rivet and you risk a repeat of this situation. So, you either go no captain or hope Derek Roy's ready.
13. When this happened to Rivet in Montreal, he angrily stormed out of the arena. The Canadiens traded him to San Jose knowing he wouldn't stay. This time, he was honest (impressively so), but subdued. Rivet is 36 and must be wondering about his career. It's tough to see people who really love the game worry about that.
14. Of all the curveballs at last year NHL's draft, the least surprising to many teams was Jeff Skinner being selected 27 spots above his ranking. Now we all know why.
15. One thing that will be on the agenda of next week's GM meetings: Yapping at the opposition during warmups. The NHL wants an end to it.
16. This week's guillotine watch centres around John MacLean. Honestly, is coaching is the problem in New Jersey? Is firing him really going to fix the problem?
17. NBA commissioner David Stern said Friday he thinks there will be a five-team European division within a decade. Interesting. After sending six teams overseas at the start of this season, sounds like the NHL doesn't believe it will work.
18. Barb Underhill, 1984 world figure skating pairs champion, and the Rangers' new skating coach shows her pupils video of Mike Gartner so they can see what a perfect skater looks like. Her work with Brian Boyle's been incredible. (Underhill, by the way, also works with a few Ducks prospects.)
19. Another guy who worked hard on his skating in the off-season? Ted Purcell. Off to a really good start in Tampa.
20. Ron Wilson gave huge credit to the Boston defence. Said it was "as quick as any" he'd seen.
21. Wilson added that Christian Hanson will be a more effective player now that he's stopped saying "'Excuse me', after every hit."
22. Asked about Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron said he was amazed at how New York's franchise player sharpens his skates. Lundqvist asks for specific work on his inside edges, because he likes to play low and uses the T-push method Roberto Luongo is trying this season. His style of sharpening is unusual in North America, but common in Sweden.
23. Ryan Callahan is becoming a star. He had a good take on how you become an effective player in the NHL. Basically, he said it's easy to play well when you're feeling great. What separates the best from everyone else is how they play when not feeling so good. In 82-game seasons, there are going to be several nights like that.
24. Callahan scored huge points with John Tortorella when the winger spoke up about bad penalties during the second intermission of their Oct. 23 game in Boston. Number of third-period penalties that night: 0. New York won 3-2.
25. Some Rangers fans were surprised to see Evgeny Grachev get a chance with the big club after a poor training camp and uninspiring start with AHL Hartford. Think New York wants to see what he does with NHL-level teammates. If he doesn't show something, he's going to get lost on a team with a lot of really good, but not well-known, young players.
26. Michael Del Zotto took exactly two weeks off after last season. Went to the worlds, then six days a week with Gary Roberts. Most guys take more time than that. Shows his commitment. Curious to see, though, if he gets tired later in the year.
27. Appears as if my prediction of Jiri Hudler having a big year is in jeopardy. Bigger issue for Detroit, though: how close are the Wings getting to sitting Mike Modano? That will be a tough one.
28. One coach said he really liked St. Louis this year because Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya were gone. Nothing personal, he said, but young players and a young coach can be unsure with those kinds of powerful veterans around.
29. This has got to be a joke. It's got to be an online version of the Saturday Night Live "Crystal Gravy "commercial.
30. Last week, the Flyers honoured the late Barry Ashbee, whose number four is already retired by the team. Ashbee's career ended in 1974 after a horrible eye injury. He became an assistant coach before his 1977 death due to leukemia. Bob Clarke told a story to Philadelphia reporters that really stuck with me: "The day he got leukemia we were showering here at the building, the morning skate. Terry Crisp, myself and him in the shower and Crispy goes, 'Barry, you've got those black and blue marks all over your legs.' He said, 'Crispy, I think I've got leukemia.' And Crispy goes, 'Don't be so (bleeping) stupid to say something like that.' But Barry knew, he read up on it. He had the symptoms, besides the black and blue, he knew. And by game time he went to the hospital. The doctor told him: 'You're in trouble.' It was scary." Contribute to Hockey Fights Cancer so we don't have to hear that anymore.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?