"What is goalie interference?" is to the NHL as "What is a catch?" is to the NFL. Nobody really knows at this point.
However, the NHL apparently will be taking some initial steps to help sort that mess out at the annual GM meetings later this month. According to The Star, the league's general managers will congregate in Florida to try to work on clarifying what constitutes goaltender interference.
Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, and Colin Campbell, the senior vice president of hockey operations, indicated Tuesday that the rule will be discussed at the GM meetings later this month in Florida.
"Obviously, it will be a point of discussion at our general managers' meetings later this month," Daly said in an email Tuesday. "To the extent there is any current confusion, hopefully everyone will be on the same page coming out of that meeting."
"We too want consistency," Campbell said, "particularly in the playoffs, with so much on the line."
The main issue regarding goaltender interference remains the consistency with which it's enforced. The league's hockey operations department has struggled to nail down a clear-cut definition and enforcement policy for the rule over the past few years. As a result, it often comes down to the discretion of officials, leading to multiple interpretations and plenty of frustration league-wide.
Earlier this week, the Maple Leafs were left frustrated when they challenged a Buffalo Sabres goal for goalie interference, but officials maintained the goal was legal. Buffalo's Johan Larsson clearly made contact with Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen at the top of his crease, spinning the goalie out of position before sending the puck into the back of the net.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was clearly upset with the ruling on the ice, and he was even more upset when the explanation he received after the game didn't match the one that was made on the ice.
"Well, what I don't like is the report that came out from the league is different than what they told me," Babcock said postgame on Monday. "The (on-ice officials) told me he was interfered with outside the paint, which is not true. That is goalie interference any way you look at it.
"No one knows what's going on. We better get it solved. Just saying: 'OK, we're going to leave it the way it is' … No chance, get it fixed. Let's get it fixed before the playoffs, so we all know the rules."
Babcock certainly isn't the first head coach to be left angry and perplexed by the ambiguity of the rule, and he likely won't be the last. It's great that the NHL is putting an emphasis on getting the debacle sorted out, but it seems unlikely that any changes or amendments go into effect in time for the postseason, which begins next month.
It's more likely that any changes come in the offseason, when tweaks to the rulebook are typically made. In the meantime, the NHL (and everyone who enjoys it) just has to hope that the confusion surrounding the rule doesn't rear its ugly head during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.