Classic Dishes...

The Prince Of Ties

Today, our long multinational nightmare is at an end. Commissioner Gary “Walking Asshat” Bettman announced that the National Hockey League owners have ratified the collective bargaining agreement that they basically sodomized out of the players last week, it’s all official, and the 2005-2006 NHL season is a go.

They held the Draft Lottery today, and one of Pittsburgh’s three ping-pong balls came out of the hopper first, so they get Sidney Crosby. I find a certain irony in the fact that the 30 NHL general managers spent the morning playing with their balls, something the REST OF US have been doing for the last year while the league and its players failed to get this ironed out.

They also announced several rule changes that will allegedly make the game more exciting: touch-up offsides is coming back, they have moved the goals back two feet and the blue lines two feet closer to the middle, they’ve eliminated the center red line for the purposes of determining if a two-line pass has taken place, a team that commits icing will not be permitted to change lines during the play stoppage, and goaltenders now will only be able to handle the puck behind the net in a designated trapezoidal area, and will be required to do so wearing smaller pads than the mattresses they wear now.

In addition, they promised us they will be cracking down on hooking, holding, and obstruction penalties, but they say that every year and it usually lasts about a month before the referees start to ignore them again. I expect this year to be no different.

The biggest change, however, is that there will be no more tie games during the regular season. The shootout has been adopted by the NHL.

Many have suggested that resolving a game with a shootout is like settling an basketball game with a game of H-O-R-S-E. Many would be right.

One of the great things about hockey was that it recognized that some nights, two teams are simply just as good (or just as bad), and that nothing was decided at the end of sixty-five minutes. And so each team gets a point (two points in the standings are awarded to a game’s winner) and we go on our way. Well, no more. The “gotta have a winner!” conditioning of the average American idiot sports fan has prevailed, and the dumbing down of the planet continues.

In the last week or so, the rumor that was buzzing around that the shootout would only take place after a five minute four-on-four overtime, followed by a three-minute three-on-three overtime. I could have lived with that. I’ve been advocating for OT to be extended to ten minutes for as long as I’ve been watching hockey, anyhow, and that seemed an acceptable compromise, especially with the amount of ice that would have been opened up during that three-a-side period. The chances of someone scoring in OT and avoiding the shootout would have been pretty high.

But that’s not the best part: Not only is the shooting happening immediately after the already-too-short five minute overtime, but instead of five participants per side taking part, like in, I don’t know, EVERY OTHER SHOOTOUT IN THE WORLD, there will only be three shooters per side. ‘Cuz, you know, that extra couple minutes the other four guys would have taken might be the difference between landing a TV deal and not. The NHL can’t even get a freakin’ shootout right.

So if a regular shootout is like playing H-O-R-S-E, the Shootout Lite is like playing H-O-R. Which, ironically enough, is exactly how I feel about Gary Bettman right now.

3 comments to The Prince Of Ties

  • Mitch

    I think this shootout idea will last two years at most…everyone will go nuts over it for the first couple games of this season and I think it will die after that. I will enjoy it for a little while.

  • Connie Chung

    The three at a time shootout idea blows, but I am glad that the NHL will have shootouts. They probably changed it to three so as not to seem that they were copying lower level leagues. A tie game is like kissing your sister, as my friends would say. Also, I don’t think that the shootout will go the way of the foxtracks puck in two years. Shootouts are fun.

  • After much discussion, I decided the Shootout Lite isn’t all that bad of a thing, at least, as compared to a full-length shootout. For one, losing in OT or the shootout still nets you a point (the whole “regulation tie” thing), and a friend of mine made an interesting point: the best shootouts are the ones that are tied at the end of five shots, and they go to single-shot sudden-death to decide the game. And with fewer shots per side, the chances for that situation happening more often are increased somewhat.

    So we’ll see what happens in practice, but maybe it will be alright.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>