The NHL’s issues with inconsistency in goalie interference calls are getting out of hand. Complaints from players, coaches, and executives have been flooding in since last season. Discussions were promised over this past off-season, but seemingly nothing came of it, as the problem has only grown larger in 2017-18. Last month, coaches and league executives met to discuss the rule and Commissioner Gary Bettman promised to work with officials to back off the call. Weeks later, there has been no ascertainable change. In fact, there were several incidents of inconsistent calls on one night earlier this month, stirring up frustrations. Bettman said in January that “Overall, the system works,”, but most around the league would probably disagree at this time.
So when will things change? The NHL’s goalie interference call has become somewhat of a joke like the NFL’s “what is a catch?” problem, but in a game where every goal, scored or called back, carries so much weight, this issue is no laughing matter. Perhaps one of their own players lashing out at the rule will cause the league to take action. That’s what happened tonight following the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes after the ’Yotes scored the game-winning goal while bumping into the goalie, but won a goalie interference challenge when their own keeper, Antti Raanta was interfered with on the erased game-tying goal. The opposing goalie, Cam Talbot, stood at the other end of the ice seething. The Edmonton Sun’s Rob Tychkowski caught up with Talbot after the game and got an honest reaction:
“There’s no consistency and I’m f*****g sick of it. It’s f*****g ridiculous. You can quote me, they can fine me, I don’t give a f**k anymore.”
Talbot also spoke on more of a case-by-case basis about the rule, illustrating its inconsistency (video). For Talbot, generally a mild-mannered and polite person, as well as the NHL wins leader in 2016-17, to speak out publicly and be so clearly emotional about the topic, one would think the league would take notice. A respected goaltender unable to contain his frustrations should indicate to the league that this is a major problem. It may not be possible for a clear goalie interference rule to be firmly decided on and implemented by officials this season, but Bettman and the NHL’s leadership need to step up and put some effort into fixing this problem, starting by publicly addressing Talbot’s comments and again reiterating that changes will be made. If they don’t, goalie interference inconsistency will only continue to be a mark on the 2017-18 season.