National Hockey League general managers last week reminded the league's board of governors that instant replay has benefits.

The general managers know that a game or a playoff series -- or a coach or general manager's job -- can be lost because of a bad call on a goal. If you don't believe that, just ask Terry Crisp or Buddy Ryan.

Ryan might still be the coach of the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles if an instant replay hadn't resulted in the reversal of an official's call in the Eagles' wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins. Ernest Byner fumbled and the ball was returned for a touchdown by the Eagles, only to have the play called back by replay.

In the NHL playoffs last spring, the then-defending champion Calgary Flames lost in the first round of the Smythe Division playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings on a disputed goal by Mike Krushelnyski 23 minutes into overtime in Game 6. Crisp had had problems with some players previously, but was canned after the defeat.

"After last year, everyone on the team would say they would like to see replays," Calgary goalie Mike Vernon said. "There are only two or three controversial calls in a season, but the one last year was our whole season."

The general managers can only recommend the change. The board of governors and president John Ziegler will develop procedures and then decide if they want to go ahead.

As one general manager said: "The whole thing is kind of vague," and the chances of instant replay being in place for next season are uncertain. About the only aspect that prompts reasonable unanimity is that replays would only be used to determine if goals should count or not. There appears to be no interest in having reviews of every minor penalty. Even with that restriction, some are worried about extending the length of games.

There are a number of problems. First of all, not every regular-season NHL game is televised. Second, those that are don't all produce the same camera angles. And the arenas are not identical, so, for example, it might be impossible to hang a camera above the net, even if the cost was no object. Oilers Want Fuhr Back

The Edmonton Oilers have asked Ziegler to lift goaltender Grant Fuhr's one-year suspension for cocaine use. When Ziegler suspended Fuhr in September, he said the Oilers could apply to have him reinstated Feb. 18.

Fuhr has been to the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for substance abuse treatment. The Oilers said he then received a clean bill of health. . . .

Montreal is threatening Boston's lead in the Adams Division after a mediocre start. Most think the Canadiens got the worst of the trade of Denis Savard for Chris Chelios. But what that deal did was force the Canadiens' younger defenseman to play harder. And that seems to have happened.

"We lost some key players and we had some new guys," Montreal goalie Patrick Roy said. "It took a while for the younger guys to adjust to the situation. But we are playing very well right now."

The Canadiens have just one loss in their last 12 games. The play of the defensemen allowed coach Pat Burns to bench Gerald Diduck, who had been acquired in the offseason from the Islanders for Craig Ludwig.

Diduck screamed about being benched and Burns sent him packing, telling him not to return. Sunday night, General Manager Serge Savard traded Diduck to Vancouver for a fourth-round draft pick. Turnaround for Tocchet

The Philadelphia Flyers are in second place in the Patrick Division in large part because they work hard and Rick Tocchet has 30 goals. That's a change for Tocchet, who used to earn a buck as a bully.

"It's tough for me to tell him to turn the other cheek," Coach Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I certainly never did. But the game is different now."