Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Came First.....

Going through my usual list of daily blog updates from THN today, I came across an article written by veteran blogger and columnist Adam Proteau about the NHL's current state of discontent with the shootout.  In it, Adam comes to the conclusion that the coaches, by directing their teams to play it safe during overtimes, have caused the occurrence of too many shootouts during seasonal play, and therefore a rallying of NHL bigwigs against it.

It's a situation that calls to mind the proverbial "chicken or the egg" argument.  Does the addition of the shootout itself ruin the final minutes of regulation and the 4v4 overtime, or does the coaches reacting to the initiation of shootout hockey cause the problem?

In my mind, It's hard to question an NHL coach of a fringe team, hanging on for dear life to any hope of making the playoffs, doing anything he can within the rules to get his team that extra point.  I mean, that's his job, and as we've seen so many times in the past, not making the playoffs could cost him his job in the very near future.  The notion of condemning a coach for using a gimmick created by the league to keep his club as competitive as possible against superior teams seems almost hypocritical.

For example, lets look at the Edmonton Oilers.  Not a great team, or really even a good team by any stretch of the imagination, especially in the shootout era.  They have played my beloved Red Wings, a perennial 100+ point team, in 7 games that ended in a shootout.  Out of those 7 shootout games, Edmonton won 6.  By comparison, in that same time span, the Oilers are 3 - 10 against the Wings in games that ended in overtime or regulation, and 1 - 10 in games that ended in regulation.  So what was McTavish/Quinn supposed to do, give up on those extra points because they should be ashamed they had to rely on the shootout so much?

So it becomes clear, to me at least, that the need to reduce the importance of the shootout, or completely remove it from the game, is valid.  The NHL already took steps towards this by changing the way regular season tie breakers are decided, eliminating shootout victories from the calculation of total wins.  Good start, but not good enough to stem the tide of a shootout laden regular season.  I've seen several suggestions batted around the forums, blogs, and Hockey Summits, from eliminating the shootout all together (my favorite idea, as it doesn't belong in a team sport), to changing the overtime formula to help increase scoring chances.

My favorite middle-of-the-road idea that I have spotted is to make each game worth 3 points, period.  The winning team gets either 3 points in regulation, or 2 points in overtime or the shootout.  The losing team gets zero points in regulation, and 1 point in either overtime or the shootout.  This solves two problems in the current league set-up: the need to de-emphasise the shootout, and a way to get rid of those pesky 2-point games that somehow become worth 3 points (2 to the victor, 1 to the loser) when overtime gets involved.  Purists get less shootouts, and hippy tree huggers, I mean casual fans, get to keep the shootout.  And we all live semi-digruntled, but a little less frustratedly ever after.

And I leave you now with a video of Marek Malik, a NYR defensemen who scored 2 regulation goals that entire season, scoring on an amazing hand-eye-foot exhibition to end what is still the longest overtime game on record (15 rounds)

No comments:

Post a Comment