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Kings coach and GM applaud upcoming change regarding goalie interference reviews

The Kings have been involved in their share of goalie interference calls this season, often not in their favor. Coach John Stevens has repeatedly said that he doesn't know what the rule is anymore, and other coaches have expressed frustration.

But Stevens and Kings general manager Rob Blake said that the NHL's decision this week to have the league's situation room in Toronto have the "ultimate responsibility" on coach's challenges for goalie interference is a step in the right direction.

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"If you're looking for consistency, you follow the same path as supplemental discipline," Blake said. "You leave it to a committee. You might not always agree with the call, it is a judgment call, but at least if you know there's a group doing it; you'll get a sense on how they're doing it, so you'll start seeing goals repeatedly and you'll get a sense of how they'll call it."

Stevens has been frustrated when different officiating crews have different interpretations of the rule from one game to the next. Blake said the change, which is expected to be approved before the playoffs, is intended to iron out a gray area with player contact with goalies.

Previously, the on-ice referee who made the original call took responsibility for the final call after consulting with NHL Hockey Operations. There was a feeling in this week's general managers meeting that an official reviewing the play on a small screen in front of a packed arena wasn't ideal.

"I think, finally, when you get to video you can take that emotion of it out," Blake said. "It's tough when you go look at an iPad, 20,000 people yelling, and you have to make a split-[second] decision. It's difficult."

No changes were made to the criteria for how the rule is judged. Stevens thinks officials have been going out of their way to look for contact, which has cluttered perceptions of the rule.

The Kings' Dustin Brown puts the puck past Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot, but the goal was called back for goalie interference.
The Kings' Dustin Brown puts the puck past Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot, but the goal was called back for goalie interference. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

"You just want the right call," Stevens said. "The games are hard this time of year. It's a real tough environment around the net. I think there has to be contact. The goalie still has to be able to do his job in the blue paint, but let's not go and micromanage what's going on in the blue paint here to find a reason not to allow a goal.

"I think we really want to get this in order before the games are big now and the playoffs come around. Are we going to have a situation in the playoffs which will cost a series or a critical time in the game? I think we're trying to take steps to just get the right call."

Blake said there is sentiment to streamline the rulebook in the offseason. On other topics from the meeting, he said the general managers talked about assessing a minor penalty for calls that get overturned but that there wasn't an in-depth conversation about it.

Sportsnet reported that the salary cap could increase by more than $6 million next season, but Blake said that is a matter for the NHL's board of governors.

Twitter: @curtiszupke

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