Blackhawks News

High-Stick Video Review: Too Far Or Necessary?

By Joe Kremel

The NHL video review team is hard at work. Photoshop by Joe Kremel of

Hockey fans are divided into two major camps in this modern age of the NHL.  There are those that want every penalty to be called and are willing to sacrifice the flow of the game.  Then there are the others who love the human aspect of the game and don’t want the game stopped even if there was a penalty that was missed.  Ideally, there would be a way to review everything major while the game still moves at its blazing pace. That’s exactly what the NHL is trying to do, though, not very smoothly.

They have expanded the video review to include the high-sticking double minor penalty.  This seems like a small change, but depending on your view, this is either a step in the right direction or a slippery slope.  What happens when somehow the NHL doesn’t have an angle to see what happens and the call stands on the ice, only to have a photo come out the next day proving that they made the wrong call? They’d have wasted 2-3 minutes of everyone’s time and still gotten the call wrong.  The conspiracy fires will burn bright when that happens in a playoff game.

Stu Hackel of Sports Illustrated brings up a great point.

"Let’s say, for example, a player is going to be whistled for high sticking. The ref signals a delayed call, the team that was fouled pulls its goalie and scores a goal with the extra man. The ref then checks the player who was struck and signals a double minor, but the review in Toronto indicates that, in fact, he was injured by his own or a teammate’s stick. What the hell happens then?"

Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

This rule change would only go so far, and plays like this one won’t be affected.

Was this a terrible call? Yes.  Should that minor penalty never have been called?  It should not.

That’s where the problem lies.  Sometimes penalties are too weak to call, and they fall into that grey area where the infraction should technically be ruled as a penalty, but it’s just not enough to warrant a stoppage.  Conversely, it’s not an accurate way to call a game, and it can lead to goals like this.

It seemed like a small hook that would most likely lead to nothing, but that’s not what happened in that particular case.  I can completely understand why the refs would let that one go.  Both of these videos are examples where there will be downfalls with whatever system the NHL goes with.  You can’t review that hook, and you can’t give the goal back to the Hawks for a bad coincidental minor call.  I personally would like to see more consistency with the calls on the ice as well as more accurate goal reviews.  At least perfect your video reviews before you expand the process.