To begin all NHL games both teams are awarded one timeout. They can use it at any time during the game except after an icing. Most coaches use it to set up a play late in a game or to give the top power-play unit a rest if they’ve been on the ice for a while and the coach wants to keep them out there.
However, there’s one other use for the timeout and it’s a big one. In the event a team wants to challenge a play for goalie interference, they must risk their timeout. If you don’t have your timeout, you can’t request a challenge.
Thus, holding on to that one timeout can be crucial, especially in a game in which a team is leading.
That’s why I don’t use it a lot. I want to really save it because if goals are scored on an interference you really want to save it. If I think we need it because our defensemen on the ice are exhausted and Gilly (defense coach Ryan McGill) wants to keep them out there then I’ll use it but it’s tough because you’d hate to see a tying goal go in when there’s a goalie interference that you might be able to challenge (and you don’t have the timeout). -Gerard Gallant
The purpose of the timeout in hockey has essentially changed.
So do you mostly see your timeout as a challenge, not necessarily a timeout? -SinBin.vegas
Yeah. For sure. I think it’s a big value, if you can get a goal called back from a timeout from a challenge it’s huge. -Gallant
More than the actual timeout itself? -SinBin.vegas
Way more… for sure. Because let’s face it, when we’re on offense and we need a timeout, the six guys going out there know what play we’re going to set up so it’s not like you have to go over that and if you do then you are in the wrong business in coaching. The guys know what the plays are. -Gallant
This came up as a topic of conversation because of the late game situation in Dallas. The Golden Knights had to kill four minutes of penalties while nursing a one-goal lead. Multiple times Gallant had a chance to use his timeout during a stoppage of play, but he never did.
We now know why. He knew if a goal was scored against his team, he wanted to be able to challenge the play for goalie interference. Without the timeout, he can’t challenge.
It makes perfect sense. What’s more valuable in the scope of a game, 30 seconds to talk to your players about something you’ve been over 100 times over the course of the season, or a chance to have a goal taken off the board?
They are important timeouts and I hate giving them away sometimes early in the game but sometimes you make your decision and you live with it. -Gallant
So there you have it. The next time you think, “Gallant should use his timeout,” think to yourself, is it possible he’s going to have to challenge a goal any time during the rest of this game? If the answer is yes (remembering that inside of the final minute and in OT all reviews are automatic), then he’s probably not going to call the timeout.