Monday, December 1, 2008

The Hockey News Creates Stupid Ideas

My beloved sport isn't popular. That's why we've been best friends all these years... *single tear hits keyboard* The sport has become more exciting ever since they went and canceled a season on all of us. Perhaps too exciting. So says Sam McCaig, senior copy editor of The Hockey News. Why they let these people blog is beyond me.

A couple of days ago, a fellow THN editor asked me if I was still “down on the shootout.”

I promptly replied, “Yes.”


Sounds like somebody has a case of the Mondays.

However, back when the tie-breaking format was introduced in 2005, I probably would’ve yelled, “Hell, yes!” and immediately launched into a double-decibel rant about the NHL selling out the game and the shootout’s complete lack of credibility.


Complete lack of credibility? It's a game, asshole. How do you measure hockey's credibility? Man, I wish that I would have read that article.

“It’s a skills competition they ripped off from the All-Star Game!” I would’ve cried. “Nothing more than a novelty act!”


And I would have yelled back, "Hey, dipshit, the 1994 gold medal in the winter olympics was decided by a shootout! Shut the fuck up so I can eat my sammich!" And a novelty act? A novelty act would be the teams trotting out a three member circus freak panel to fight each other. A winner would be determined by blood loss.

"Hockey is a team game!” I surely would’ve shouted. “Let the teams decide who wins and loses, not an individual player on a propped-up breakaway!”


Because those teams played to a tie. So lets bore the fans who don't care about the sport anyways by having them play even more.

Not being smart enough at the time, I wouldn’t have even thought to bring up the fact that four-column records (win–loss–overtime loss–shootout loss) are a royal pain in the standings. Or that the “loser point” would forever relegate a trusty stat like winning percentage to the trash pile. (Now teams have a “points percentage,” which is like winning percentage…but completely irrelevant.


Hey, that's a great point. Unless you could reclaim that room by just adding the shootout loss into the overtime loss column. It's the same outcome, with the team getting one point in the standings. Or you could just be a shithead about it. We've seen where Sammy decided to go with that. And on the same note - way to waste space by separating your idea inside the parenthesis into two paragraphs. What a shithead.


A team could lose all 82 games in a shootout for a record of 0-0-82…And hey! Look! They’re .500! What a year! Stanley Cup, here we come! What do you mean there’s no shootout in the playoffs! Just wait…)


Caution! Sam's slope is very slippery. Or a team could lose 82 games in overtime, before the game is decided in a shootout, and still be 0-0-82. Oh, what's that? You're using three columns? Yeah, get fucked, Sam.

The truth is, though, I’ve mellowed on the shootout a bit.

A bit.


I have only gotten angrier in the last fifteen minutes. Sam has had three years to cool his jets.

I still feel the same way I did when it was thrust upon the league three years ago – that a player-versus-player competition is an awful way to decide a team game – but my passion has subsided with the passage of time.


So what about penalty shots during the game? That's part of the tradition that you're so fond of. Are you going to decry that? And let's also set about in eliminating the ability for a single player to get a breakaway during the game and facing the goalie by himself. Those are unfair because the whole team has fucked up and let a forward get behind the defense. While we're at it, lose the goalie. Why should one individual be allowed to only stop shots in this team sport?

I can even grudgingly concede – as long as you don’t throw it back in my face – that fans, for the most part, seem to like the shootout. If you’ve ever been in attendance for an NHL game that required one, you know the in-arena intensity shoots through the roof. And, definitely, entertaining the fans and giving season-ticket holders the feeling they got their money’s worth is important.


And it brings in fans that normally wouldn't watch a game. I could yell "Shootout!" in college and roommates would come in and watch, then go back to not caring about the NHL. It's good for the league and good for the sport. A larger fan base would bring more into the sport, and then the talent grows and the game gets better.

However.


What however? However, the game needs to be boring because the way it was is much better! The game should die a slow and miserable death at the hands of Sam McCaig! The streets shall run black and red with newsprint and blood! More fans = better for the sport. Shootouts make the game more exciting, so how is there a however?

Nothing is more important than maintaining the integrity of the game. And while the introduction of the shootout did not sink the league’s credibility, it was a shot across the bow. Think about it. The next logical step is to introduce the shootout to decide playoff games; say, for games that remain tied after one 20-minute overtime period.


Are you fucking kidding me? The overtime period(s) in the playoffs are still played 5-on-5. So the next logical step would be to go to 4-on-4 like they do in the regular season. A shootout is very far from the next logical step unless you're a blithering moron. And as for Credibility and integrity? You could have gone with TV and greed forcing the shootout to create artificial excitement and make games end on time so that FSN Final Score doesn't get bumped. Notice the lack of evidence to show that the league has lost credibility and integrity, which can't be measured. What can be measured, of course, is attendance and league revenue. Those have gone up since the lockout, and the excitement of a shootout could be a cause of it, along with redistribution of talent with a salary cap and revenue sharing. But the game lost integrity, scruples, and street cred. No hustle either, Skip.

Surely, we can all agree that would be a terrible day for the league. NHL playoff overtime is the best thing about hockey – you could argue nothing is more exciting in the world of pro sports – and the last thing the league should do is tamper with its most thrilling aspect.


Overtime playoff hockey was pretty cool when I could stay up and watch the games. A couple overtimes are still fun to watch. In Dallas, they stand through the whole thing, which is a pretty cool tradition for such a mindless fan base. There are a lot of things that are more exciting in every sport than playoff overtimes. Baseball has bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, football has last second desperation, and basketball has the last 45 seconds that turn into an hour with timeouts when the score is close. Fuck, even bowling has the 10th frame. Breakaways are the most thrilling aspect of the game. So stop bitching about the way it used to be. Didn't you see they changed the logo, Sam? It slants upward.

In fact, I think the league should go the other way and extend overtime during the regular season. Forget the shootout; how about 4-on-4 OT for 10 minutes instead of five? Or 20 minutes? Or play until someone scores; that’s what sudden-death overtime is all about.


And the arenas could play Brahms' Lullaby.

The naysayers might complain about games going too long – granted, no one wants to stay up until two in the morning on a Tuesday night in February to see who wins the fifth St. Louis-Nashville meeting – but the fact is, more than 40 percent of regular season games that go to overtime are decided within the five-minute frame. Plus, if teams know they don’t have the option to try and “hold on” for a shootout, they’ll be more apt to go for the win in OT.


Right now, 100% of the games end within a reasonable amount of time. Andrew touched on fairness in OT in football and now here it is in hockey. Shootouts are a fair way to end a game. In a long OT game, a bad penalty can be called and ruin the outcome of the game, fucking up Sam's precious integrity.

And if it’s really a big concern that far too many games would go on for far too long, why not go to 3-on-3 after 10 minutes of 4-on-4? There won’t be any triple-overtime marathons under that format, we can guarantee you. Granted, 3-on-3 is a little cartoony, but it’s much better than deciding games with a 1-on-1 format.


Actually, 3-on-3 hockey has been done before. And it was the greatest video game. Ever. But in the NHL overtime, I don't think that all of the sudden somebody will yell "BO-NUS!" and you'll get an unstoppable slap shot. Well, not yet.

Pretty much anything is.


How about games are decided by the drawing and quartering of senior copy writers from The Hockey News? Teams win by having the majority of the corpse. I don't want that to actually happen, but is that better? Pretty much anything is.

15 comments:

Larry B said...

Jesus Christ, what is this guy talking about? Your "slippery slopes are for dopes" label doesn't make nearly a strong enough statement.

JimA said...

Maybe we could run an IQ test on Jarrett and whichever team guesses closest wins. First of all, you said that the NHL is "forcing the shootout to create artificial excitement and make games end on time so that FSN Final Score doesn't get bumped". That is exactly what they are doing. Thank you for answering your own argument. You mention other sports. Baseball doesn't have a clock, so sudden death there is out. Following your thoughts, the Eagles-Bengals tie game should have gone to a field goal contest to break the tie, since fans always stand up in anticipation when last second field goals are attempted.
You said the shootout has added to attendance. This is unbelievable. Who is stupid enough to put down good money to watch something they don't care about on the off chance there will be a shootout? Do they root for a tie?
Awarding points the way it is now done screws up the standings. If you lose within the 60 minutes, you get no points, and the winner gets two. If it goes to overtime or a shootout, losers get one point, so three points are awarded for that game, as if it is a more important game. Some teams play for a tie when they're in a close game. Win or lose, they get a point. Last time I checked, the standings aren't computed by percentage, but by points. A team that goes all out and tries to win in regulation may be punished by losing, while a team that lays back is rewarded for not making an effort to win. That doesn't have an effect on the integrity of the sport?
This means that winning in overtime is only worth one more point. Where is the incentive there?
I don't care what the Olympics does. They have shootouts. Big fucking deal. You want to turn the NHL into the Olympics? What a stupid argument.
It's a good thing I am heavily medicated right now and having a hard time concentrating, as this is an asinine posting, and I'd love to put together a comment that runs rings around your shitty article.

Angelo said...

post about hockey and a fight breaks out

Jarrett said...

Easy there, JimA. Let's talk this one out.

My artificial excitement/make games end on time statement was made as an example argument that the original author could have made to make his argument against shootouts. My argument is pro shootout and that it hasn't hurt the game. So I'm not answering my argument, I'm giving the original author more ammo.

I mention other sports because the original author claimed that the overtime period in hockey is the most exciting thing in the world of sports. You took my argument to another planet. And uh... extra innings are kind of sudden death. If the road team scores, the home team must score or they lose. Just not so suddenly.

I made no direct correlation between an increase in attendance and the introduction of the shootout. My stance is that shootouts make games more exciting to watch and introduce more people to the sport, leading them to go to games more. Sarcastically I added the real reasons why the game has improved since the lockout, which is that the talent base can be spread around the league with the salary cap in place. Teams in cheap markets get help with revenue sharing and can afford good players.

The idea of getting an extra point for losing in overtime was added in 1999 because coaches were playing for the tie and benching their better players because of the risk of injury. There was fear back then that teams would just play for the tie and go for an overtime win, and every game would not end in regulation. That hasn't happened. This isn't to say that with a minute or so left in a tie game that a few players have phoned it in, but more often than not they play the whole game to win in regulation. I would also contend that the current point system is just fine, as there has never been a team snubbed because they lost fewer games in overtime. While one point may not seem like a lot, it is the culmination of points from the outcome of 82 games that matters.

The original author maintains throughout his article that the credibility and integrity of the game is lost with a shootout. I pointed out the Olympics use a shootout to determine who wins the gold medal, which offers credibility and integrity to me. I hope that NHL hockey doesn't turn into Olympic hockey because of the dimensions of the rink and the automatic icing.

You are entitled to your own heavily medicated opinion. That's why the comments are up and should you not find my evidence suitable feel free to say so.

Angelo - I know, right?

Chris W said...

When I played youth hockey (pee wee, as it happens) I was in some tournament that had shootouts instead of OT. I won the game for our team in a shootout and we finished 3rd in the tourney. Afterward the team complained that my stick's curve was too high and they measured it. I felt like Marty McSorley.

The end.

Also, another great 3 on 3 game was Wayne Gretzky's 3d hockey

cs said...

Sam McCaig's heavily medicated son has just discovered FireJay.

Welcome Sam McCaig's heavily medicated son!

Bengoodfella said...

This is exactly why I love hockey posts. They bring such anger in the commenters. It is great.

As someone who does not watch hockey, I think shootouts are really exciting. They still play an OT period though right? If they do not, then I would prefer they play one OT, because I think that is exciting as well. I reserve the right to change my mind if they don't play one OT before they go to a shootout.

I guess the only thing I find not exciting about hockey is the three periods of the match.

Jarrett said...

Bgf - They play 5 minutes of 4-on-4 overtime before they go to a shootout. Usually each team gets a good scoring chance in, but it's often decided by a team getting a power play.

Chris W said...

bring back the neutral zone trap. it's pure

Bengoodfella said...

Hmmm...I would rather see a 10 minute OT of 5 on 5 (that's what they usually play right?---I am 99% sure it is, but I don't want to sound like an idiot) to decide a game. I guess the hockey match has to end at some point so 4 on 4 for five minutes would work.

I still like the shootout knowing how they do OT.

Tonus said...

If I remember correctly, OT used to be 5 minutes of 5-on-5. If one team scored, they got two points. If neither team scored, they both got a single point.

Thus, in a tie game late in the third period, teams would play more defensively. Playing aggressively might lead to a scoring chance for the other team, after all. And then the overtime period would be more of the same. Why risk a loss when you can play defensively and get a point?

I think (am not sure) that they then went to a 4-on-4 format with both teams guaranteed a point for a regulation tie, with an additional point given if one team scored. This made the standings a bit confusing, with the familiar W-L-T replaced with W-L-T-OTL.

I think they went with the shootout format because hockey ratings are in the toilet and sinking, and the NHL will do anything that might get a few more people to show up.

BTW, that columnist is a moron for bothering to mention winning percentage in a sport that determines playoff seeds via a points system.

Bengoodfella said...

It is ironic I don't know anything about it but I used to love hockey and watched the matches on television when I got an opportunity. I had the video games and all that stuff. I latched on to the Philadelphia Flyers when Lindros played for them (when he was not injured) and wore a Flyers hat and all.

For some reason, (lack of coverage/some other reason I don't recall) I quit paying attention. Even when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, I did not really care...though I do check the Flyers record from time to time. I kind of wish I cared more...

Bengoodfella said...

Though I don't agree with JimA, I do have to give him credit. Most people who rip writers on blogs go by the name "Anonymous." At least he had the balls to use his real name I guess.

I don't see the problem with the shootout after a short OT if the previous way to determine the winner gave points for playing conservatively. I see it as more of a change to make OT more exciting and not necessarily a denigration of traditional hockey. I think that is where JimA may have missed the point.

This is from the outside looking in, of course.

Jarrett said...

Tonus - The year is 1999. People are freaking out that their computers will revolt in a year. mambo #5 is topping the charts. And the NHL institutes the 4-on-4 overtime loss is a point rules. The intention was definitely to reduce the number of ties and make games more interesting, but subsequent rule changes show us that the NHL believes they haven't done enough.

Bgf - I think of all sports, hockey video games are the easiest to pick up and play. I say that, but the last video game I bought was the NHL Hits '03, and that was partially because I always buy video games with my team's athlete on the cover.

Also, I really wish JimA would come back. He's a usually commenter, I wonder where he went.

Andy said...

I hate the Rangers, but Nikolai Zherdev's shootout goal against the Penguins tonight was a thing of beauty.

Almost as beautiful as Mike Ribeiro's one-handed shootout Goal against LA last month.

I like the shootout.