NHL officials are routinely blasted for their calls on the ice, leading some hockey fans to declare that the league’s refs have never been worse and are possibly the worst in all of sports. Is that the case? The jury is still out, but some aggregated data from the 2016-17 regular season reveals that the officials may not have been as bad as many might think, but there’s still lots of room for improvement.
Reddit user corsician (a very appropriate name given the statistic work) used the NHL’s Situation Room page – along with some programming – to find out how often calls on the ice were reversed during a Coach’s Challenge.
The data showed that the call on the ice was reversed 30.3% of the time, meaning the officials had the call correct in roughly two out of every three instances. It also revealed that challenges on an offside call were reversed more often than a challenge on an interference call.
That’s some fascinating data. Of course, there’s still a lot of subjectivity when it comes to reviewing interference calls which may not make the data as scientifically accurate as we’d all hope, but the stats effectively demonstrate that the officials are able to back up most their initial decisions upon using video review. There’s also the fact that the play must be conclusive in order for a call to be overturned which likely padded the official’s percentage.
The league probably won’t make much of the officials emerging correct almost 70% of the time on challenged calls in one of the fastest sports, but what the numbers won’t show is the missed calls or bad penalties which can’t be reviewed. That’s not to say reviews should be employed throughout a game, but it does say that the officials are perhaps stronger in some areas and still need to learn to follow a consistent set of rules in others.