Chicago Blackhawks left wing Dennis Rasmussen (70) is unable to get a shot on San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) as Logan Couture also defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arb
Charles Rex Arbogast
February 11, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) The 2017 NHL draft is coming to the United Center. And there is no coach's challenge to take that one away from Chicago.

The Blackhawks had another goal tossed out during Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to San Jose when Sharks coach Peter DeBoer made a successful video challenge for goalie interference, prompting Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to cut short his postgame press conference likely out of fear of drawing a big fine for criticizing the officiating.

But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday the league is ''extraordinarily pleased'' with the how the challenge system is working in its first year.

''We've really had virtually no problems with it,'' Bettman said after announcing the draft is coming to Chicago for the first time. ''Is it perfect? Pretty close, but we're working on it and over the season we think it's getting even better.

''So we like what we see, but after the season's over we'll evaluate it and see if it needs adjusting. But fundamentally, it's sound.''

The Blackhawks also had a goal disallowed following a coach's challenge for goalie interference during a 5-4 overtime win at Arizona last Thursday, leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty on Quenneville for practically going to the ice to scream at the officials.

The team contacted the NHL after the San Jose game, and Quenneville said the league also disagreed with the call during Chicago's loss to the Sharks.

''I think there's an education across the board and you've got a lot of people in the middle of the process of making the decisions,'' Quenneville said. ''So hopefully, you know, I just care as long we get it right is what we're looking for.''

The NHL has a centralized review system in Toronto, but coach's challenges are handled rink side by the officials taking a look at the replay on tablets. While deferring to a closer look after the season, Bettman didn't sound inclined to move the challenge reviews to one location.

''We're trying to use it with a judgment call and our belief, at least for the first season, was it's best left with the officials who are making the call and officiating the entire game so that the standard's consistent throughout the game,'' Bettman said.

Bettman was joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, team president John McDonough and other executives and officials for the draft announcement. Emanuel said no public money will be used on the event and it will have a huge economic impact on the city.

The NCAA's Frozen Four also will be held at the United Center next year.

''Chicago will be Hockeytown, USA,'' Emanuel said.

The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup three times in the past six seasons, drawing praise from the NHL for its skill when it comes to hosting the league's marquee events. The 2009 Winter Classic was held at Wrigley Field, and the Blackhawks also played an outdoor game at Soldier Field two years ago.

''We want this event to be entertaining, we want this to be innovative and we want it to be memorable,'' McDonough said.

Also Thursday:

-Bettman defended changes to the league's website that have generated criticism online.

''We're watching the comments,'' he said. ''But we think what we're delivering now is terrific and only going to get better.''

-Bettman declined comment when asked about a report that the Blues will host the Blackhawks in next year's Winter Classic

-Wirtz said the Blackhawks' new practice facility will open in the fall of 2018. The project was approved by City Council on Wednesday.

''Having the two sheets of ice, I mean you see how little the Blackhawks practice both in the month of December and January, so this is really a community ice rink,'' Wirtz said. ''So from all different age groups, we can bus kids in from everywhere. Not only on the ice, we can work with nutrition and what they do and fitness. So it's going to be a 360 approach to hockey and sports.''


Jay Cohen can be reached at

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