What are Coach’s Challenges in the NHL?

What are the NHL coach challenges

You’ve probably seen the coach’s challenge in action during a game, but What are the coach’s challenges in the NHL? And how does it work?

You’ve probably heard about the coach’s challenges that the NHL uses from time to time. You might even have a couple of those questions I mentioned above. 

So, Why were the coach’s challenges introduced? How do they work, and what kinds of plays can you challenge? We’ll answer all this and more in this article to help you get your challenges in line! 

Let’s get ready for an in-depth guide, shall we?

What Is The Coach’s Challenge In Hockey?

If you haven’t heard of the Coach’s Challenge, here’s a quick rundown:

Since the 2015-16 season, coaches can challenge a goal scored on their team to see if it was scored illegally. The challenges are based on these criteria:

  1. Did the opposing team score offside? (If a player was in the offensive zone earlier than the puck.)
  2. Did the opposing team score on a play that should have been stopped due to goalie interference? (The puck goes in after an opponent touches your goalie or interferes with his ability to play his position.)
  3. Did the opposing team score on a play that should have been stopped due to an illegal hand pass? (A player uses his hand or arm to pass the puck to another player.)

When a coach wants to challenge one of those three criteria, he has 20 seconds from when he’s notified about the goal. If he makes a challenge, the referees then review the video and decide whether or not they overturn their original call.

If there were two challenges, and both were successful, then the team would be responsible for paying for both challenges.

When Was The Coaches Challenge Introduced?

The NHL instituted the coach’s challenge in the 2015-16 season to get game calls right when there wasn’t an alternative (like referring it to an official). These rules come into place in two special situations in a hockey game; Coach’s challenges for offsides and goalie interference. 

Coach’s challenge for offside

The offside rule can be confusing and difficult to enforce, so the league has instituted a method for coaches to challenge an offside call. If a coach believes that an offside call made by the hockey officials is incorrect, he may initiate a coach’s challenge. 

The only condition is that the team must still have possession of the puck when the challenge is made—if they’ve lost control of it since the original play, then it’s too late to dispute.

If the referee or officials determine that their original call was correct (that is, if it was truly an offside), then the challenging team loses their timeout. 

However, if the ref overturns their call and deems that there was no infraction (or at least not enough of one to prevent play), then no timeout will be deducted.

In this case, normal play will resume with whichever team had possession at the time of the whistle; thus, challenging teams who win their case will keep control of the puck after all!

Coach’s challenge for goalie interference

The coach can challenge whether a goal should count because of goalie interference. You may only call for this type of review after a goal has been scored and before the next play begins or is whistled dead.

If the call is overturned, then the goal will be disallowed, and the official game clock will go back to the time of the attempted goal. Play will resume by a faceoff at one of three spots on the ice, depending on where possession changed hands and which team was attacking when play was stopped last.

Coaches in the NHL can challenge certain calls on the ice

From the NHL rulebook: Challenges are an optional way to review the goal rule during a game. A team can only challenge a goal scored on its end (with some limited exceptions). Teams may use challenges to review goals that occur offside or whether a goaltender touched the puck.

The most common situation where coaches might be seen using these challenges is when they feel there was something wrong with a goal allowed by video replay. 

Update On The Coach’s Challenge Rule

The hockey rules always see some significant changes sometimes. New rules to the coach’s challenge would give coaches a second thought of calling for a review.

This change allows the hockey team coach to call for a challenge if; The referee does not call a stoppage of play in the offensive area leading to a goal for the opponent. 

However, this could backfire for the team as they could suffer a minor penalty if the call were wrong. That means coaches would have to think twice before challenging a goal.

Is There A Limit For The Coach’s Challenge?

Yes, there are no limits to the number of challenges a team can make. Coaches could dispute the referee’s decisions within a particular timeline. But they would lose their timeout if the call is wrong.

However, with the NHL looking to minimize the challenges, they have set a rule. 

This rule triggers a minor penalty to a team whose coach’s challenge was wrong, and the referee’s decision was right.

What Is The Success Rate Of The Coach’s Challenge?

The adoption of this rule came into place because of the wrong calls of goals resulting from offsides and goalie interference.

However, the calls sometimes could go either way. So, how many of these calls have led to a successful call at the end of the review? We will provide you with some stats below;

In the rule’s first year in 2015-16, NHL teams were challenged 250 times with 23 overturned goals. Last season, they challenged 300 times with 16 overturned goals.

As of December in the 2021/22 season, here are the stats from the success rate; 

Total; 70 – 24 upheld, 46 were overturned, which is 66%

Here is the breakdown of the events; 

Upheld Overturned 
Interference  12   12
Offside 9   33
Stoppage 1    3

Conclusion

The coach’s challenge system aims to minimize mistakes and reduce inconsistencies. The league also wants to cut down on the number of offsides and goalie interference that are not called.

Although coach’s challenges were intended to be a way for coaches to challenge unclear goals, they have become a means for teams to make up for their obvious inability to thwart the opposing team. However, the NHL setting a minor penalty is looking to address this issue. 

So, I believe you now know what coaches’ challenges are in the NHL and how they work. 

Found this post helpful? Please share it with your friends and hockey enthusiasts. 

Dustin Jeffery

Hey there, I'm Jeff Dustin! I've been playing hockey for 12 years, and I'm so glad to be here talking to you about my love for the sport.

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