The 3-on-3 overtimes are getting all the press, but the NHL's "other" new rule could see some changes already this season. And it's pretty much all Jack Capuano's fault.
The Coach's Challenge was put in place so that teams could ante up their lone timeout in the hopes of getting a goal overturned in cases of potentially uncalled offsides plays or goalie interference. But there's concern that some coaches are throwing the challenge flags as a sort of speed bump that gives their team a breather immediately after a critical goal and throws the other team off its game. Oh, and if you're lucky, maybe that goal gets called back, too.
In his Monday column for TSN, writer Frank Seravalli points a finger directly at Islanders' coach Jack Capuano for calling for a review of a goal that by all means was clean just to get a timeout at a very strategic time.
Although the coach's challenge has mostly run smoothly, one item on the agenda at Nov. 10's GM meetings in Toronto will be coaches deliberately killing the flow of games.Of the 15 challenges so far, three have been in question. The most egregious example was Jack Capuano's challenge on Oct. 17 against Nashville. The Islanders held a 4-2 lead with under six minutes to play, but Nashville was coming on strong. Nashville's Mike Fisher appeared to make no contact with Thomas Greiss in front as James Neal scored, but Capuano challenged anyway. The futile review took a few minutes and effectively killed Nashville's momentum, which was a better tactic than any timeout. NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said the league anticipated competitive coaches would attempt to manipulate the rule for competitive advantage, but so far it hasn't been a huge problem. It's unclear what kind of deterrent (minor penalty?) could be put in place to prevent bogus challenges should they become an epidemic, particularly later in the season. "It's something we'll talk about next month," Campbell said.
Here's video of the goal in question:
For anyone who follows the Islanders closely, the idea of Capuano thinking so deeply about a timeout in a highly critical moment as to effectively game the challenge system is incredibly ironic. Since he was named coach in 2010, Capuano's timeouts have been used so rarely that one expects to see a national news alert issued when he does decide to call one. Sometimes, it feels like weeks go by without the Islanders calling for a TO.
Capuano has attempted two coach's challenges this season (I think) and lost them both (I think).
So, is Jack Capuano a secret evil genius bent on manipulating a new rule just to give his team a small but crucial edge over their rivals in a parity-laden NHL? Or is he just a guy who's unlucky at picking his spots?
One thing we know for sure: this will definitely come up in Capuano's next epic pre-game speech.