The NHL situation room in Toronto.



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    The NHL situation room in Toronto.

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    – Man cave bliss.

    That’s the first impression in the NHL’s Situation Room. The 20-by-40 haven of high-def TVs and projector screens would be the perfect place to throw a Stanley Cup-watching party, if only they’d add a few recliners, a wet bar, pool table, some poker chips and a popcorn machine.

    None of that is in the works, though. Real work is done in this high-tech room — dubbed the “video war room” — that essentially is surveillance of 30 NHL arenas.

    This video room, where every goal from every game is reviewed and confirmed, is not to be confused with the Department of Player Safety video room. That room, where games are watched in part for incidents that may require supplemental discipline, is in New York, where Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly work.

    The situation video room is in a different country. The windows overlook Lake Ontario a few blocks away and look down on the roof of Air Canada Centre, which is attached to the NHL’s Toronto headquarters. This is the building where Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell and Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy work.

    Almost 1,000 miles from St. Paul, it was in this room Feb. 12 where the league confirmed that Jason Pominville scored a goal even though a pass ricocheted in off his braking skate. It was in this room Feb. 28 when the NHL initiated a video review in Denver to inform officials that Maxime Talbot actually scored against the Wild, a situation that actually pained this group and was a swaying influence toward getting a coach’s challenge next season. It was in this room March 14 where the league disallowed a Zach Parise goal because they determined he scored with a kicking motion.

    4The NHL had 243 official reviews (meaning they have gotten referees on headsets) this season and have overturned approximately 20 percent, league officials said, noting they have taken a second or third look at roughly 600 goals to confirm they’re good.

    One wall of the NHL Situation Room is all glass and leads to the offices. The wall across has a big-screen TV in the middle and is flanked by two framed pictures. One is an ode to Roger Neilson, dubbed “Captain Video” for being one of the first coaches to embrace video. Neilson, who died in 2003, is one of the inspirations for the war room. On the right is E.J. McGuire, the former director of NHL Central Scouting who died in 2011.

    The front wall has 30 feet of stacked big-screen, HDTVs that allow them to watch multiple games, multiple feeds and multiple angles, like overhead views.

    In front of the TVs are three room-wide rows. The front and back have work stations for coordinators to staff games and two media relations staffers who send out e-mails and tweets (@PR_NHL) and update the Situation Room’s nhl.com blog with explanations of allowed and disallowed goals.

    In the middle is “the Bridge,” a raised platform where the supervisor sits. Usually it’s Murphy. When it’s not, it’s Vice President of Hockey Operations Kris King or Senior Director of Hockey Operations Rod Pasma. If there are six or more games at once, two supervisors work.

    Fast turnaround

    In front of the supervisor is an intercom system that allows the league to reach the video goal judge and referees at each arena instantly. Because arenas are so loud, there’s a red strobe that flashes any time the NHL needs to reach a video goal judge. If a goal judge needs to reach the league, a red strobe and overhead lights flash in the Situation Room.

    One coordinator is assigned one game. He has three 24-inch screens in his station where he can watch the home and away raw feed (no delay) and different angles, like an in-net view or overhead.

    The coordinator has a laptop where he catalogs everything from a game, not just the goals and penalties. If he feels a referee or linesman missed a call or made an incorrect call, he logs it. He logs injuries and embellishments and other in-game events.

    After each game, a report is spit out with video clips. That document is sent to Campbell, Murphy, the rest of hockey operations and Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom within five minutes.

    “Ninety-five percent of the video Walkom sends his officials, if not all, comes from the guys in here watching games and clipping plays,” Pasma said.

    A summary of every game is also written and sent to Bettman and Daly.




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