NHL wants to improve goal review accuracy, yet won't use automated system

Doug Pensinger

Has your favorite team scored a goal that was deemed inconclusive and therefore waved off? Good news: The NHL might be trying to improve on that.

TSN's Darren Dreger has reported the NHL is soon meeting with a group that has developed a camera system that can be embedded in the goal posts of the net, providing a new vantage point to review potential goals.

This potential improvement would be focused on plays when it is inconclusive whether or not the puck has crossed the goal line. However, according to Dreger, the league is looking for 100 percent accuracy in goal determinations from any system it installs, which seems wholly unrealistic, especially with a camera-based system.

What is confusing for fans is the NHL's insistence on relying on human judgment -- often human error -- instead of a much more reliable automated system. The NHL seems to constantly be looking for improvement from the perspective of visual cues, instead of creating a system that would keep bad angles from entering into the equation.

Dreger noted that the league has looked into computer-generated tracking software, but the interest seems tepid at best. A system in which tracking software could instantly trigger the goal light when the entire puck crosses the line would take the human error out of both the review process and the referee's goal calls.

What isn't noted by Dreger in his column is that even with this new system, the way the goal is reviewed is still entirely dependent on the goal call on the ice. When a referee signals "no goal," the results have to be conclusive that the puck crossed the line in order to reverse the call. If a referee signals "goal," it's up to the reviewers to conclusively prove the puck did not cross the line.

Depending on the officials working the game, the same play could be signaled a goal or no goal, which means a completely inconclusive play could go either way, depending entirely on human error.

Then, we have completely confusing situations like this one:


The referee signals a goal, which is the call on the ice. All four officials get together and decide to review the play, which the NHL's hockey operations team determines is inconclusive. The referee announces that the call on the ice stands: no goal.

As it turns out, the four officials decided to reverse the goal call in their huddle, but gave no indication before calling Toronto.

Could post cameras help these kinds of goals? It's possible, though when the puck is obscured by goaltenders or players in the net, it's tough to imagine how.

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