You follow sports? No? Then this blogpost isn’t for you. You can just wait until next time. Have fun reading your Harlequin novels and picking out doilies at the local Candlerama outlet store.
Now, for the REST of you, put down your 3/4 lb. bacon double cheeseburger for just a second and follow along:
A few nights ago my beloved Colorado Avalanche defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in shootout overtime (yes, they play HOCKEY in Arizona – a subject of another rant, but I’ll get to that one later). And I’m here to tell you they almost didn’t deserve it.
If you don’t follow hockey, but are still reading (for whatever reason), it goes like this: At the end of 3 periods, if the score is tied, they will play 5 more minutes with each team being short a man, and the first one to score wins. If they STILL haven’t scored, then they go to what’s called a “shootout” (somehow much more suited to Arizona than hockey). Each team gets 3 chances to fire a shot at the opposing goalie, and the team with more goals wins the game. If it’s still tied, each team gets a turn to shoot until one team has an advantage, and they’re the winner.
Now, the Avs would have won in regulation time save for a last-second shot (literally – there were less than 3 seconds on the clock!) that trickled in. 5 minutes of 4-on-4 overtime hockey didn’t decide it, so they went to the aforementioned shootout phase.
Which took TWELVE SHOTS PER TEAM TO DECIDE.
Sure, the Avs ended up winning. And I’m not one to turn down charity.
But I’m sorry, this just isn’t hockey; it’s target shooting. And maybe it’s more exciting for the fans, but it has so little to do with what the game is about that it’s almost insulting. Hockey was intended to be a TEAM sport, not like the NBA has turned into lately, where it’s 5 one-on-one potential matchups.
(At least basketball and baseball got overtime right; I’ll say that much. However, basketball bores me, and baseball seems to bore everyone else.)
Think of the poor goalies during an NHL shootout. They already have a target on their chest as it is – knowing the shot is coming has to make them feel like they’re standing before a firing squad. And have you tried to squat in position wearing that kind of gear before? Imagine doing it for 65 minutes, and THEN being told that you have to stop a bunch of slapshots before your back bends the wrong way like the legs of your kid sister’s Barbie dolls after you got done with them.
And exciting for the fans? How about boring? “Oh look, there’s another goal, and another, and another! When will the excitement end?”
I’ll tell you: that kind of “excitement” could NEVER end.
The longest shootout in NHL history went 15 rounds – that’s 30 different skaters – and ended with a trick shot by Marek Malik of the New York Rangers. It was quite a shot – Malik overskated his own puck, then stuck the blade between his legs and fired the puck from behind his left skate. The goalie never saw it coming.
It’s set up to be fair to each team; however, the possibility exists where each team could match each other goal-for-goal and save-for-save.
Again, that’s just not hockey, any more than the “trick shot” competitions are real sport (pool, bowling, basketball, tiddlywinks).
Why not play a version of overtime that 1) keeps the action in the realm of the team sport it’s supposed to be and 2) GUARANTEES that the game will end fairly and without lasting an extra hour?
For example: Currently there’s a 5 minute period of 4-on-4 overtime hockey, which doesn’t count the goalies, who are of course still on the ice. If they fail to score during that time, why not do another short period of 3-on-3? The more open things get, the easier it gets.
And if there’s STILL no score after that? Another 5-minute period, but REMOVE THE GOALTENDERS. Or even replace the goalie with a 4th skater. Either way, I PROMISE you’ll get a winner here.
Wouldn’t that be so much more exciting? And much more realistic and relevant to the game itself to boot.
Write your congressman. Or the NHL offices. Or your favorite sports columnist. Or your favorite hockey team. Or ANYONE you think gives a rat’s rear end.
The “shootout” overtime in hockey is nothing less than a slapshot in the face to the true fan, to say nothing of how the goalies must feel.
Okay. Rant over. Seen any cute doilies lately?