Claude Julien Wants To Improve NHL’s Messy Coach’s Challenge System

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien

Photo via Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien

BOSTON — The coach’s challenge in the NHL hasn’t exactly been a hit among the coaches who are doing the challenging.

A number of bench bosses have been highly critical of the system, which is in its first season of implementation. Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team has been burned numerous times by controversial replay decisions, on Wednesday offered a few suggestions for how the league could improve it.

“A couple things,” Julien said before his team’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. “I think maybe coaches need a better understanding of what the referees are looking at and how they’re calling it. The other part is if it’s one of those things where we feel it’s inconsistent from referees to referees, then maybe we take it out of their hands and take the pressure off them as well. They’re having to tell everybody, ‘I was wrong,’ or ‘I missed it,’ which for some might not be a big deal, (but) for others (is) a bigger one.

“And the other part that I said is that any time that (a replay) is inconclusive — especially offside in that area there, but even in other areas as well — I don’t think we should lose our timeout because of that fact, because we could be right after all. Inconclusive doesn’t mean we were wrong. So that is something that they should look at as well.”

John Tortorella, whose Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Bruins on Monday in a game that featured close to a half-dozen video reviews, advocated after that game for the league to scrap the coach’s challenge entirely. Julien seemed to be more of the mindset that the system needs tweaking rather than outright removal.

“Some coaches say just take the challenge out, then more of us when you have an offside would bark at the referee when there’s nothing you can do about it,” Julien said. “But now we know we can, but when you lose your timeout when you maybe shouldn’t have, it’s even more frustrating. So there are a lot of things here that after a year of experience, I’m sure everybody’s going to look at it and try and to modify it or fix it or make it better.”

Tortorella and Julien were in complete agreement on one point, however, using the same “Forrest Gump” quote to describe the level of confidence coaches have in predicting the outcome of their challenges.

“Ask every coach the same question,” Julien said with a smile. “You know, it’s like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.”

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images

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