Maybe one of the lesser-known matters of hockey, NHL’s Situation Room may not be talked about as much as other hot topics, but it is still a big part of the game. And I’ll admit that I don’t think much about the War Room unless I’m anxious to hear the results of a challenging call.
But when games are tight, and the difference of a goal can mean a win for a team; the NHL must get the call right. But what takes place in this room? Who are the ones who get to make the ultimate decision? Read on as I reveal all the details of this mysterious room below.
The NHL Situation Room Defined
The Situation Room (not to be confused with the one in the White House) is the league’s headquarters where the final decision on a questionable call takes place. While the referees on the ice make most of the calls, sometimes reviews of the play are needed. In other words, it is the quality control room.
- Otherwise known as the War Room, it is here where the experts make the final call on questionable goals.
- The Situation Room is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is next door to the Scotiabank Arena, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- It is run by experts in the field including ex-players and retired officials.
The Origins of the Situation Room
Back in 2002, Ken Holland, the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, made a call to vent his anger about a miscalled goal by the goal referee in Calgary. He fumed that it shouldn’t be amateurs making these types of calls.
After a meeting with the GMs, the idea of a centralized video room was presented. In 2003 it came to pass. This room was impartial, unlike the previous way calls were made with influences from outside parties. In this room, no outside influences could take place; it was pressure-free.
The NHL’s Situation Room Video
Where is the Situation Room Located?
The NHL Situation Room is in Toronto, Ontario, Canada next door to the Scotiabank Arena. The Scotiabank Arena used to be known as the Air Canada Centre (ACC to locals like myself), but as money exchanged hands, so too did the name.
Who Works in the Situation Room?
If you recall that the room was created to avoid amateur calls, then you can be sure this room contains only professionals within the field. It includes ex-professional hockey players, retired officials, basically anyone with a high level of hockey knowledge.
What Gets Reviewed Here?
In one word, goals. But if a goal was simply about crossing the goal line, we wouldn’t need a Situation Room, would we? It is here that they review all the possible contingencies of a goal uncertainty.
Situation Room personnel address questions like these:
- Was the goal offside?
- Did it beat the buzzer?
- Was there any kicking motion?
- In a similar notion, was it knocked in by a hand?
- Was there goalie interference?
- Did the stick that knocked it in go higher than the crossbar?
- Did it cross the goal line?
If there is any question about a goal, these experts have got it covered.
One particular tricky call is goalie interference. In 2018, the NHL decided that it would be the Situation Room that would solely make this decision. They have the power to overrule a call of the on-ice official. This pronouncement was recommended during the NHL’s General Managers meeting in March of that year.
To ensure that this is done correctly there will be a retired referee official in the Situation Room who will consult with the on-ice referee who made the original call. The hope with this, as is with all Situation Room decisions, is consistency.
How Does the Situation Room Work?
The setup is pretty simple, each station has four TVs in a row where each screen can be split up if needed. Every live hockey game must be watched. They also have iPads, iPhones, and a laptop, just in case. Here, it is the job of the experts to watch each game as if they were the ones refereeing it.
When a call on the ice is made, they decide if they agree with the call. If they don’t, then a pause in the game will happen and they have the power to reverse a call. They also help with a coach’s challenge; they can slow the play down and review it in more detail.
Because of the current technology they have what the referees on the ice don’t, different angles (14 to be exact), and the ability to slow the play down with multiple playbacks. The footage is transferred via iPad to the referees on the ice after the play has been reviewed.
Then, the on-ice referee will pick us a headset so the two officials can communicate with one another. The room connects easily and instantly with all locations. Post call, the dialogue must be transcribed into a document for the public to see.
After everyone agrees the wording is correct, they send it off to the PR department of the two teams involved in the questionable call. The regional and national broadcasting partners will also receive a copy. The referees, coaches, players, and fans all understand this and most find it quite useful.
Once again, check out this video to get a better take on the ins and outs of the War Room.
Inside the NHL Situation Room Video
Final Thoughts on The Situation Room
Many would argue that it is here, in NHL’s Situation Room, that the game is influenced and molded into being better. They look at everything, discuss everything, and they never jump to conclusions or make rash decisions.
As someone who has been involved in sports all of my life, I believe that having impartial judges that are closed off to the fans is a solid plan. We all know how heated everyone can become during the game and the War Room helps to put heated debates on ice, as it were.
By Danielle L’Ami
Danielle is a Habs fan who lives in Canada with her husband and three kids. The idea of having a Situation Room in her house sounds very appealing. Maybe that way her kids wouldn’t argue back so much with her decisions?
You’re on our What is the NHL’s Situation Room? page.
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