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Does rescinded penalty set stage for expanded video review?

DETROIT -- Usually in the first few weeks of the season, NHL officials try to set the tone by implementing rule changes, educating both players and coaches and enforcing some penalties more aggressively than others.

The thought is, crack down hard at the beginning and hope that sends a message for the remainder of the season.

But Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock took note of one particular call when he was pre-scouting the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night before they were slated to play at Joe Louis Arena.

Babcock watched as Kings forward Jarret Stoll was sent to the penalty box for tripping Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Sutter, and the coach was shocked by what happened next.

The two officials, Greg Kimmerly and Steve Kozari, actually huddled together to discuss the call, after which Kimmerly skated over to the box and pulled Stoll out. The penalty was rescinded.

Babcock, among many others watching the game, saw that it was a phantom call. Sutter tripped over his own skates at the blue line before colliding with Stoll, who was called for the infraction regardless.

What was remarkable was that the crew acknowledged the mistake and swiftly rectified the situation.

"Fantastic," Babcock said of the sequence of events.

Stoll said neither he, his teammates nor his coaches had ever witnessed such a thing happen.

"Nobody's seen it," he told ESPN.com when recounting the play Saturday.

Stoll was as dumbfounded as anyone when Kimmerly skated over and opened the door for him to return to the ice.

"I was complaining and whining and screaming. I guess it helped," Stoll joked.

Though the about-face did not ultimately affect the outcome of the game -- the Penguins won 3-0 -- Stoll was pleased to see them get the call right.

But he wondered how the referee who made the initial call felt about the matter.

It also poses an interesting question: Did the incident set a precedent for future situations? Or does that sort of thing violate some sort of unspoken code between officiating crews?

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser said it is not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and though it is customary to give the official closer to the infraction the benefit of the doubt, that’s not an absolute, especially if the other official feels confident enough to overturn it. After all, each official is granted the same authority on the ice.

"The way the officials handled that call was an excellent example of thinking quickly on your feet and doing what's right for the game when possible," the NHL's director of officiating Stephen Walkom told ESPN.com via email. "Hockey ops and the officiating department want our guys to work together to get it right whenever possible. In this modern era of hockey you often see officials huddling or overturning each other to get it right. The handling of this situation, like video review, is always evolving to best serve the game."

But what Fraser, who now works as an analyst for TSN, thinks emboldened the crew to make that determination was an incident that happened just one night prior.

"It came from the Washington-Detroit game the other night," Fraser surmised when reached by telephone Monday.

Fraser is talking about Detroit's disallowed goal against the Washington Capitals last Wednesday night. An apparent goal that was scored by Drew Miller in the first period was waved off as a result of an incorrect goaltender interference penalty on Luke Glendening. Ultimately, the Red Wings won, but a simple review could've easily provided clarity on a goal that was waved off by a phantom call.

Unfortunately for Miller, this did not fit under the criteria for which the hockey ops department is allowed to rule on disallowed/allowed goals.

"It made everybody look bad," Fraser said. "You can bet there was a directive sent out."

Though the NHL board of governors and the NHLPA recently approved changes to the rulebook heading into the 2014-15 season -- with expanded video review among the most notable -- it does not apply to all situations.

Fraser argues review should be expanded, especially in cases like Detroit's disallowed goal.

"I personally have advocated for -- and refs want this. They want to make their own reviews in a secure location, maybe inside the penalty box, when it comes to goaltender interference, which is the most difficult call to make and the one that is made wrong the most often," Fraser explained.

At least one league source pointed out that reversing such a judgment call brings up fears about opening Pandora's Box and fundamentally changing the way the game is administered.

Those who oppose the idea of an ever-expanding video review also argue about the time factor, though Babcock made a shrewd point to that end, noting that in the time it usually takes for a disgruntled coach to unload on an official about a questionable penalty, the correct call could've already been made.

"Just get it right," Babcock said.

Fraser also said he has seen the in-game monitor used by officials at the college level, a process he finds to be faster than delegating the decision to the situation room in Toronto.

Expanded video review is expected to be a topic of discussion at the general managers meeting this month, at which Fraser hopes it will continue to gain traction.

"There's at least some movement afoot that they should be reviewing plays," Fraser said. "But those calls should be made by referees and not a former player."