Murphy said the NHL also consulted with Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd., the company that does reviews for tennis and other sports, but didn’t feel it was right. Too many bodies and sticks in the way on an ice rink made for very different conditions than a tennis court.
One of the most difficult plays is when a goal is scored with a potential high stick, Murphy said, because in Toronto the situation room is evaluating a three-dimensional situation on a two-dimensional screen. In a perfect world, he would like to be able to have graphs made to determine exactly where a player’s stick was in comparison to the crossbar.
“As your technology gets better, we’ll get better,” Murphy said. “We’ll continue to look at everything we can to try to make our sport as accurate as it can possibly be.”
That’s certainly baseball’s goal as it tries out expanded instant replay. Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz told reporters in Arizona last week that everything will be reviewed after each of the next two seasons to iron out any kinks.
“At the end of year three, we expect to be as near perfect as we humans can get in this system,” Schuerholz said.
Torre wondered what “price you want to pay” for slowing the game down, something Murphy said was always a concern in hockey.
“The ultimate goal is to get it right, but it’s a slippery slope not to slow the game down to a snail’s pace,” he said. “It can take a lot of life out of a sport if you keep reviewing plays and it takes a long time to do it.”
What helps the NHL is access to real-time replays, an improvement from satellites. Now Murphy and his crew can look at situations often before referees ask for a second opinion.
Because those working in the situation room are, in Murphy’s words, so “qualified” to see and judged plays correctly the first time, the NHL has cut down from about 400 reviews a year to roughly 300.
Just as manager’s challenges will cause some baseball games to last longer, coach’s challenges in the NHL would increase the number of reviews and take more time. But if it’s a means to an accurate end, few will complain.
“I think in sports in general, everybody wants the right call: The fans want the right call, the fans want the right call, the players want the right call,” Murphy said. “Sometimes even when it goes against them, they can life if the call is right. They can live with it. I think that’s one of the things that every sport is pushing for is to make sure we get the right call and that we get the right call in a timely fashion.”