I read a pretty interesting article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer that discusses how the elimination of goal judge booths could help National Hockey League teams make some extra revenue. The booths would be replaced with a small number of premium seats to the lower bowl areas of their major league arenas. We are talking about the small areas behind each goal where the goal judges used to sit and rule when a goal is scored. Hockey writer Tim Panaccio raised the question in his article titled "NHL verdict goes against goal judges". At the same time, The Sports Network (TSN) did a nice feature story on this subject as well called "No more goal judge?"
In the case of the Philadelphia Flyers, a total of 12 leather "goal judge seats" were installed inside Wachovia Center during this summer (two rows of three seats each behind each goal). The team plans to package these premium seats with a lease of a suite so season ticket holders could have a choice in either using these seats or entertain guests in their suite on a given game night. Not a bad idea, if you ask me.
This only became an option for the Flyers after the NHL decided to eliminate the goal judge booths from all 30 arenas and place the goal judges up in the press box or similar areas in the arena depending on its configuration. The initial experiment took place at last season's All-Star Game in Dallas back on January 24th. Panaccio brought up in his article that this might be of concern where there is the need for definitive and conclusive evidence to correctly determine goals being counted and a goal judge directly behind the net could still offer the best view. Not to take anything away from goal judges' abilities, but video replay has over time been relied on more in making the right call. The on-ice referees and the "war room" up in Toronto have had the final say one way or another anyway. So it remains to be seen how much longer goal judges will play an active role. Keep in mind that all teams will eventually have high-definition cameras installed for a even clearer view from above the goals to see if a puck crossed the goal line, so that will be a factor in how much longer goal judges will even be needed.
Either way, this is a money maker for NHL teams to have a few extra seats to sell. We all know that. Teams like the Flyers can only benefit with this plan for a few very lucky season ticket holders.