BOCA RATON, Fla. - The coach's challenge, reductions to goaltending equipment and a potential expansion draft are among the topics NHL general managers expect to discuss this week in Boca Raton, Florida.
Of particular intrigue is the efficacy of the coach's challenge and whether tweaks are required for next season.
Implemented at the start of the regular season, the coach's challenge has been employed more than 200 times so far this season. The system offers head coaches the opportunity to question whether a play that resulted in a goal was either offside or impacted by goaltender's interference.
"I think it's a good thing," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said of the coach's challenge system in a recent interview. "I think (coaches) are understanding it now and using it properly. Let's get it right. That's all I care about."
Entering Sunday's action coaches had challenged 216 goals, 75 per cent of which were upheld.
Fifty-five plays were overturned with 27 goals called off because of offsides and another 26 overturned (23 to "no goal", three to "goal") on account of goaltender interference.
The goaltender interference aspect of the coach's challenge has, in particular, caused some confusion and frustration among players and coaches for lack of clarity.
In one particularly poignant moment last month Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville exploded on the bench after Marian Hossa was deemed to have interfered with the Arizona Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue, doing so only subtly.
"I thought that was (a) joke," Hossa told reporters afterward. "I don't know what's going to happen in the playoffs, if there's going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don't think it's good for the league."
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has challenged 14 calls, the second highest total in the league. Asked if something could be done to better clarify what exactly qualifies as goaltender interference.
"That's a very good question," Babcock said last month, choosing his words carefully. "Is it real clear? No. That's why it's hard. But it's hard for the official too. They're doing the best they possibly can. They got a little wee tablet to decide."
The general managers will consider whether process for determining calls, with referees making the final determination from a handheld device, merits adjustment.
Some players have said they would like to see the process sped up so as not to interrupt the flow of the game. Others would, like their coaches, prefer further clarity for goaltender interference.
"What is interference? What isn't? What if you are pushed in? How long does the goalie have after you make contact to readjust and settle in before he makes the save," former Washington Capitals forward and current Maple Leaf Brooks Laich said. "There still is a little grey area there. But all you want is consistency. You want a little clarity, what you can and can't do."
The general managers are also expected to discuss prospective reductions to the size of goaltender equipment as well as the expansion draft, though only in very general and hypothetical terms.