TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper isn’t sure coaches should be the ones challenging for goals under the NHL’s video review system.
“I’m a believer — and I don’t know if I’m in the minority on this — but I don’t know if this should be in our hands,” Cooper said after Tampa Bay’s 6-2 Game 3 win. of the Stanley Cup Final that reduced the Colorado Avalanche’s lead to 2-1. “If it’s onside or offside, I just don’t know why I have to make this decision when the stakes are so high.”
On Monday night, the Lightning successfully challenged a first-period goal by Colorado winger Valeri Nichushkin. He was knocked down after video replays showed Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram moved the puck outside the attacking zone and then back over the blue line, knocking it out. Game.
The Lightning bench didn’t immediately signal a coach’s challenge and there was a significant delay as they looked at different angles on the bench.
“It was probably three times the length we normally get,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen said “it’s a bit difficult” that the delay came after the goal.
“I don’t think the [linesman] can drop the puck if there’s nobody around,” Rantanen said. “I guess he can, but that’s never happened before. Good job on their part, waiting, waiting and making sure it was offside. Good for them.”
Cooper looked as frustrated as his opponents after the game.
“Here’s the problem, and I’ve said it before,” he said. “We’re at the mercy of the replays we get. So someone could unplug something upstairs, we can’t have replays and something that’s a black and white call could be missed.”
When asked why the Lightning bench took so long to decide on a challenge, Cooper noted how long it took officials on the ice to finally decide to disallow the goal.
“That’s how close it was,” he said. “I don’t know how many angles they looked at, but it must have been a bunch for it to take that long. At the very end an angle came in. It was an end zone angle and I don’t know where we got Guys inside couldn’t tell if it was white [ice] or if it was grainy. And I said, ‘Well, let’s go with the white.'”
If the Lightning had failed in their challenge, not only would the Avalanche have led 1-0, but their powerful power play would have had a chance to extend the lead.
Cooper said he understands why the video review rule was in place. But under the current system, he said, if there’s a problem with a video stream or a problem with the screen, it can be problematic.
“You’re under time pressure,” he said. “It can be tough. Luckily we got through it tonight. At the end of the day, everyone wants to make the right call, and the right call was offside. But it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Sometimes I “I wish we hadn’t. I have to make that call. But it worked.”