NHL needs ‘Charlie Coyle rule’ to define possession on offside calls

Matt Kalman
November 06, 2019 - 4:05 pm

Scouring social media across North America on Wednesday it’s be virtually impossible to find anyone with a modicum of hockey knowledge that think the referees in the Bruins’ 5-4 loss at Montreal on Tuesday were wrong to rule Charlie Coyle offside on the zone entry before he scored what would’ve been the go-ahead goal for Boston in the third period.

Appearing on the Dale & Keefe Show, former Bruins goaltender and current NESN analyst Andrew Raycroft pretty much spoke for everyone that ever played the game or has watched the game in recent years when he responded to a question about whether Coyle had possession of the puck.

“Yes, every player in the NHL can make that play, kick it up through the back of their skate and up. And the talent level and the speed has gone up so much that they put the word possession the NHL rule book, but there’s no question he had possession, knew exactly what he was doing,” Raycroft said.

The problem might be that possession is vague and leaves room for interpretation. The word appears more than two dozen times in the rule book but is never defined.

Mike Johnson played more than 600 NHL games and now works as analyst. He agreed with the call based on the ruling that Coyle didn’t have possession, but disagreed that Coyle wasn’t in control of the puck

Justin Bourne spent several years playing pro and since has worked in coaching and as a writer and analyst. He seemed offended that the referees wouldn’t think a NHL player was in control of the puck in the situation Coyle was in.

In the province of Quebec, of course, they were searching for ways to justify a call that wen the Canadiens’ way and led to two points for the home team.

Years ago, Marc Savard’s unfortunate injuries after he took a cheap shot from Matt Cooke led to a new rule. One has to wonder if there will be a “Charlie Coyle” rule in the offing to make sure that a play every NHLer makes on a daily basis gets codified to be part of the definition of “possession.”