Bettman: 'We're extraordinarily pleased' with coach's challenge system


Bettman: 'We're extraordinarily pleased' with coach's challenge system

Joel Quenneville talked a little longer about that disallowed Brandon Mashinter goal on Thursday than he did following Tuesday’s game.

The Blackhawks coach had a talk with the league about that call, one prompted by a coach’s challenge, which erased an early 1-0 lead in the Blackhawks’ eventual 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. According to Quenneville, the league didn’t agree with that no-goal call.

But for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the league is “extraordinarily pleased” with how the coach’s challenge system is working thus far.

The Blackhawks have had three goals nullified by coach’s challenges this season; two of those have come in their last three games. While it’s been frustrating to them, Bettman said the system has been working relatively well.

“The purpose of the coach’s challenge, particularly on goaltender interference, was consistent with the notion that it was a judgment call,” Bettman said. “It’s really only supposed to be used when there are egregious calls. But in the final analysis it’s a judgment call.”

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Coach’s challenges are done in arenas as opposed to video reviews, which are done out of Toronto. Bettman said that’s likely to continue.

“We’re trying to use it with a judgment call, and our belief, at least for the first season was, it’s best left with the officials who are making the call and officiating the entire game, so that the standard’s consistent throughout the game,” Bettman said. “The standard we’ve told everyone we’re using is, ‘Is there a better call?’ When the official gets to see it again, not in the blink of an eye, not just from the position he’s in but if he can look at it and say, ‘You know what, if I could have seen that at the time, I would have made a better call,’ that’s what it’s supposed to be used for.”

Marian Hossa, whose goal was denied in the Blackhawks’ victory over the Arizona Coyotes last week, has voiced his displeasure of the calls.

“The game is slowing down. Every touch with the goalie seems like it’s a goal disallowed,” Hossa said following Tuesday’s loss. “The league wants to get more goals but seems like the rule’s doing a good job of taking the goals away.”

The coach’s challenge system is in its first season in the NHL, and Bettman said the league will look at it during the offseason. For the most part, however, he’s happy with how it’s going.

“In the final analysis we are extraordinarily pleased with the way it’s working. And when you compare to what other sports have done in their first year, we’ve had virtually no problems with it,” Bettman said. “Is it perfect? Pretty close, but we’re working on it. And over the season we think it’s getting better. We like what we see, but after the season we’ll evaluate it and see if it needs adjusting. But fundamentally, it’s sound.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”