Cool, Hockey’s Back. 10/8/05

Watched “Hockey Night In Canada” tonight (a great benefit of living just south of Latitude 49… getting CBC TV.) Edmonton beat Vancouver 4-3. It was a fair game, but ended regulation time in a 3-3 tie. Overtime produced no winner so they settled it with a shootout. While some of the rule changes are for the better (mostly the strict calling of obstruction penalties, and the elimination of the red line for off-side passes) I loathe the idea and practice of the shootout to end a tie game. I both played and officiated Ice Hockey for a good portion of my life… and I love the game. That said I have a real love/hate thing going with the NHL. Last year was a fiasco, and I’ve felt Commissioner Bettman will sell out the game and turn it into a circus to achieve NBA-like “success” as soon as he can.

The shootout illustrates this well. It is a complete sellout to this idea that there has to be a winner. Some of the best games I have ever watched, played, or officiated ended in ties. I never had a problem with any of them. The only situation when a tie is unacceptable is playoff hockey, and then the only way to do it is sudden death… play until somebody wins.

The penalty shot has a place, but a series of them to decide a winner during a regular season game is silly.

On a completely unrelated note, Christopher & I participated in the Seattle Jaguar Club’s “Fall Colors Tour” today. I put 200 more break-in miles on the rebuilt engine. It was cool and mostly cloudy, but I managed to keep the top down all day. You can see my pictures here.

2 thoughts on “Cool, Hockey’s Back. 10/8/05”

  1. Do you hate shootouts as tie breakers because you were a goalie and the concept of a shootout – as a random game of chance – can nullify a whole game + overtime of really good (or bad) goalkeeping?

  2. No. Though your assumptions are in line with logic. I really hate it because it is foreign to Ice Hockey. It is merely an adaptation from Soccer. Additionally, and slightly in-line with your proposal, it is a bit artificial and a very unsatisfying way to decide a tie. Finally I believe the crowd will add an element that will likely make more than 60% of the shootouts going to the home team.

    But to answer your question, speaking as a(n ex) goaltender…. It has always been said that the Penalty Shot is the most exciting play in sports. The shootout will reduce that to semi-routine. There are less than a dozen penalty shots a season, but there are usually several hundred tie games. As such we’ll see games end in shootouts every week now. I will tell you that the odds favor the goaltender in a shootout, as such the one-on-one aspect doesn’t really offend me as a goaltender. Sudden death overtimes are also advantages for goaltenders. I know that the longer I played a game the better I played. Shootouts will sort of eliminate that factor.

    Speaking as an ex-referee, I will say that I bet coaches will strategically force or avoid tie games will esoteric rules such as equipment measures late in the third period. It will be interesting to see how many are smart enough to try it during the run up to the playoffs.

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