The Hockey East coaches voted unanimously in favor of implementing instant replay for league games next season and now it is up to Commissioner Joe Bertagna and the league’s athletic directors to approve it later this summer, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
Whitehead also said they voted to use it even if not all of the schools install it.
The WCHA and CCHA already use it for their league games.
Instant replay would only be used on controversial goals.
Whitehead attended the Hockey East coaches meetings in Naples, Fla., last week before moving on to the American Hockey Coaches Association’s meetings in the same locale.
He also said the two referees-two linesmen system has come a step closer to use in the NCAA Tournament. They currently use a one-referee, two-linesmen system.
The two referees-two linesmen system was approved for use in regular-season games a year ago and it was used in several nonleague games. But it wasn’t approved for use in the NCAA Tournament so leagues were reluctant to use it in their league games.
“The WCHA is going to use it in four league games this season,” said Whitehead. “It has been well-received in all of the leagues. Hopefully, it will be approved for the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09 [by the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee].”
Whitehead said there was also strong sentiment for going to four-on-four in overtime and having a three-player shootout if nobody scores in the five-minute overtime. That would just be for regular-season games and is the system the NHL uses in its regular-season games.
“The coaches are in favor of it, but it hasn’t been approved [by the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee],” said Whitehead. “Hopefully, we can get it approved for ’08-09.
“We’ve got to eliminate ties. BU had nine ties this past season.”
Another topic that received a lot of attention was the need to market college hockey more aggressively.
Whitehead said Major Junior Hockey coaches are aggressively recruiting elite American players and they have changed their rules, reducing the age in which they can draft and recruit players.
That makes it more difficult for U.S. college coaches.
“And we’ve got to develop a stronger relationship with the NHL and the NHL Players Association,” said Whitehead.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement resulting from the NHL lockout two years ago has hurt college hockey because there is a limit on signing bonuses.
Players receive an $85,000 bonus if they sign a one-year contract and $170,000 if they sign for two years.
College players used to receive signing bonuses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars so the NHL teams were much more careful.
However, with the low signing bonuses, NHL teams can gamble more on college players, their own draftees as well as free agents, because they won’t lose much money if the player doesn’t pan out.
So it is more difficult to keep players in college, according to Whitehead.