Babcock says NHL shifting responsibility with challenge rule change

Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock says obviously the league wasn't happy with all the offside coach’s challenges last season, and the new rule will put a lot of head on coaches and the poor guys in the video room.

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock says the NHL has shifted accountability onto him and his staff as the league attempts to fix coach’s challenges for offsides.

The NHL announced rule changes Wednesday approved by the league’s Board of Governors, with one stating a team will be penalized with a two-minute minor if its coach challenges a goal for offside and fails. Previously the team was stripped of a timeout.

"The league made the rule. The league didn’t like it. So what they did is they put it on the coaches now," Babcock said Thursday at training camp.

"Obviously they thought it happened too much in the league. They wanted to find a way to put it on us, so they put it on the coaches."

The NHL began allowing coaches to challenge goals for offside and goaltender interference two seasons ago, but felt the rule needed to be corrected for the 2017-18 season. Too often coaches challenged on the slight chance a goal would get called back.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said he ultimately wants to discourage coaches challenging an offside unless they’re 100 per cent sure.

Last season there were 117 challenges for offside, 78 of which were upheld and just 39 overturned. In 2015-16 there were 88 offside challenges, 53 upheld and 35 overturned.

If a coach lost a challenge last season the punishment for delaying the game wasn minimal. Players still got a chance to rest or regroup during reviews, which typically took longer than the 30-second timeout a team would forfeit.

But now, a team would be restarting the game on the penalty kill after being scored on, which could be a game changer if it turned into a two-goal swing.

"You gotta think about it, right? You’re trying to get that right and your game’s on the line, it’s going to be a tough decision. You imagine how much heat it’s going to put on the poor guys in the video room? You have no idea," said Babcock.

A coach who wants to take a chance can still challenge for goalie interference in some instances. And there’s still the concern that challenges take too long to figure out, but the league hopes fewer unneeded reviews make for a positive step forward.

Also in effect for this season, a team will no longer be allowed to call a timeout for rest if they iced the puck. Officials are being urged to penalize players for not obeying the markings around faceoff circles. And officials and the league office will be taking a closer look at and calling more slashes in and around the hands to reduce injuries and improve the quality of play.

— with files from The Associated Press