Gary Bettman: Refs are ‘overthinking’ goaltender interference reviews

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Connor McDavid chats with linesman Mark Wheeler during a Jan. 13 game in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. — The NHL’s goaltender interference reviews have been the equivalent of the NFL’s catch rules since their inception in the 2015-16 season — a confusing, confounding process that takes too long and seems to produce wildly inconsistent results from game to game. But it came to a head this past week when two of the game’s biggest young stars, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, had goals overturned— and later showed up the officials after scoring again.

Matthews had a goal taken away last Monday, then promptly scored two minutes later, emphatically pointing to the net like a referee. McDavid had an overtime goal overturned on Thursday, then scored in the shootout, looked at the official and pointed upstairs, as in, “You want to check that one?”

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The Blackhawks, meanwhile, had a goal stand against the Maple Leafs even though Artem Anisimov fell onto Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (he did appear to be pushed).

“You have a good idea of what’s going on and what the call is going to be, and sometimes calls will go the total opposite way of what you’re thinking,” Patrick Kane said. “The most important thing is the league is trying to get it right and not have that gray area.”

League commissioner Gary Bettman said that director of hockey operations Colin Campbell held a meeting on Saturday with some officials, coaches and general managers to discuss the issue. Bettman said referees need to trust their on-ice instincts more.

“Overall, the system works,” Bettman said. “But I think we’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s overthinking the review. … We’re going to send a memo to the officials: take a good look, a quick look, but don’t search it to death. The presumption should be that the call on the ice was good unless you have a good reason to overturn it. You shouldn’t have to search for a good reason.”

Showing off

Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin are both All-Stars for the seventh time, the most among this year’s teams. Kane particularly enjoys the Saturday night skills competition. In 2012, he won the breakaway challenge, donning a Superman cape and Clark Kent glasses before belly-flopping for a goal. In 2015, he won the accuracy shooting contest.

On Saturday night, Kane took part in the puck-control relay, losing to Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau.

“It’s fun to switch it up,” Kane said. “I did the fancy breakaway thing for a while, which was fun, but it kind of wears on you a little bit. You start thinking too much about it. I did accuracy. Now I’m doing this. It’s fun to switch it up and try new things.”

The other winners were McDavid (fastest skater), Alex Pietrangelo (passing challenge), Marc-Andre Fleury (save streak), Alex Ovechkin (hardest shot) and Brock Boeser (accuracy shooting).

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

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