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A Personal Puckhead Bugaboo

Blog buddy David Drake picked open one of Yours Truly’s festering ‘state of professional sports’ scars (whose numbers are legion ) today when he tossed up this post: Time To Nix The NHL’s Shoot Out!

The NHL tie-breaking method of a Shoot Out – a player from one team attempting to go “one on one” against the opposing goalie, with this forum exchanged until one team scores a goal by which the opposing team receives a final attempt to even the score and if they don’t, they lose – is just a stupid way to end a hockey game. It’s unfair to all TEAMS as a whole because the win/loss doesn’t reflect who the better team is for that particular game.

When the post-lockout NHL rule changes were announced, this was the one that I, as a former goalie, thought was absolutely, downright sadistic (the puckhandling rules for goalies was just fucking dumb). Getting rid of the red line (except for icing) was great, because it pretty much put a stake in the heart–but didn’t totally kill–that hideous “trap” crap, that turned games into monotonous borefests when a better defensive team gained a lead and just plain quit playing offense. (Don’t get me wrong; as a goalie, I dug that “throw up a wall at the red line” game plan, but what I really wanted was “keep that fucking puck in the other guy’s face!” As a fan, it drove me batty when teams would go into the trap early and not even bother forechecking.)

But David’s idea, that every game should be played until one team wins, just isn’t practical, whether your playing pee-wee level or pro, for regular season games. It would just beat the hell out of players by the time the season ended, and the subsequent playoffs would be more a war of attrition than real competition. For me, the previous situation, where you play an overtime period and, if the game is still tied, each team gets one point and either a) goes home frustrated or b) thanks the lord and Bobby Orr [ed note: is there a difference?], was perfectly acceptable.

But the shootout makes me insane. Like David’s example of the recent Wild/Avalanche contest, a few days ago I watched a great game between the NJ Devils (who turned the trap into a friggin’ religion (but with Marty Brodeur and a monster like Scott Stevens standing on your blue line, waiting for someone to look down so he could punch them a one way ticket to Queer Street–if not the local hospital or possibly retirement… well, wouldn’t you?)) and “He Should Be Shot” Baby Dolan’s NY Rangers.

After three periods and the overtime, I thought it was absolutely cruel to make Lundqvist and Marty–who both had to be totally exhausted–go through eight rounds of that crap to decide the game.

C’mon! Sometimes kissing your sister ain’t a bad way to end a night.

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