Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Goaltender interference continues to puzzle Lightning

When it comes to what is goaltender interference, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is stumped.

"Pretty confusing," Stamkos said. "Just too many gray areas."

You saw that in the Lightning's 5-4 overtime win over the Stars Thursday night. Dallas' Mattias Janmark scored the tying goal with 3.6 seconds left shortly after Tyler Seguin made contact with goalie Louis Domingue.

"(Seguin) shoved me in the net," Domingue said. "That's what happened. I don't see why I would end up with my pads in the net. It's not something I do ever."

Usually coaches can challenge a goal due to goaltender interference. On reviews that late in the game, it automatically goes to the league office. And this time, the call on ice of good goal was upheld, which led to entirely opposite reactions from both benches.

Said Lightning's Jon Cooper: "You look at that, and what's a better call? I thought the better call was our goalie had no chance to make the save. So I guess I was in the minority on that one."

Said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock: "I would have been really disappointed if the goal got called back because of goalie interference. When (Tyler) Seguin went in there his stick was hooked. He was trying to score and his stick was hooked so that would have been really disappointing."

Two NHL head coaches. Two sharp hockey minds. Two entirely different opinions on the same play. See why everyone is confused?

What's been frustrating to many, including on the Lightning, is the inconsistent interpretation of the rule. There's been a lot of subjectivity.

The rule 69.1 states: "Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed."

The league has been looking for answers. The issue was brought up at a board of governors meeting at the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa in late January.  Commissioner Gary Bettman had a separate meeting with coaches, referees and general managers.

There was a  memo circulated around the league stating that officials should watch the play at normal speed and, unless an obvious foul pops up, the original call on the ice should stand.

But, so far, looks like there's still work to be done.

"I do know this," Cooper said. "Nobody is trying to screw anybody over. Everyone is trying to do the right thing and make the right call. And I know that's true. If there's a league that's got integrity it's the National Hockey League.

"When teams are competing, one is looking at it one way, the other team is looking at it another way. Regardless of the call that's made, somebody is going to be ticked off, somebody is going to be happy. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it tonight. That's it."

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