High-Sticking and Delay of Game Penalties Should Be Challengeable

Posted May 14, 2018

Oshie is clearly high sticking this fan in the face. (Caps Outsider)

In the Washington Capitals’ 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, T.J. Oshie was called for a high-sticking minor after he deflected a puck that hit Victor Headman in the face. The officials called Oshie for high sticking, then talked about it, and kept the call the same. The refs blew the call, and Tampa took a 2-1 lead.

There are many instances where high sticking and delay of game penalties have been called wrong by officials. Whether it be friendly fire on a high stick, or the puck being deflected before going out of play, officials have incorrectly called penalties that have decided games.

While they should not automatically be reviewed because that would take too long, the NHL should adopt a rule from the CFL where coaches can challenge a play if they feel officials missed a call. The same rules would apply for current goalie inference and offside challenges, coaches will still need their timeout and everything in the final minute of regulation and beyond are automatically reviewed by the NHL. If the coach is correct, then a penalty will either go up, or come off, the board and play will resume. If the coach is wrong, it could be similar to the new rule this year where if you get an offside challenge wrong, you are assessed a delay of game penalty.

While this may not be a perfect solution, the NHL clearly has a problem with phantom high stick penalties as was seen last night on Oshie. Plus, delay of game penalties are often hard to judge. This is not taking away the human element of the game, but rather just adding a way to verify. Hockey is more fast-paced than other sports, so it is much harder for officials to be correct 100 percent of the time. Adding the ability to challenge high sticking penalties and delay of game penalties, it allows for more accountability and for the game to be called correctly.