Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
Hockey tournaments with International rules in place bring about that sickening thought, “What happens if an important game ends up being determined by a shootout?” Experience has not shown yet that this is a favourable way to decide the best team. Now the National Hockey League has inserted shootouts as a way to decide the outcome of regular season games. Why?
Many will argue that the entertainment value of shootouts will bring more excitement and more fans to the arenas. Also, the tie game has been eliminated, leaving only three game outcome categories – the Win, the Loss and the Overtime or Shootout Loss. As well, it will be heard that it is only the regular season games that are being decided by the shootout and not playoff games. Hence, the important games are still unaffected.
Interesting. Shootouts are fun to watch … in the all star game format, not actual hockey games. Try explaining to teams that miss the playoffs by a few points or less that the regular season games aren’t actually important. Most GMs understand this concept and the prospect of possibly bringing a few more fans to the games should not undermine the integrity of this said game.
Why has the tie game become taboo? One of the most exciting games would involve a great defensive battle leading to a zero – zero tie. That was rare and very exciting. If two teams battle to a tie, a game of virtual chance should not determine who gets an extra point. A very important point. Defence is, at the very least, equally important to offence and just as entertaining when skillfully shown. As far as eliminating a game outcome category and making scoring easier – the only reason there were four categories was because the hockey gurus thought of the overtime loss by adding that extra five minute period to try to cut down on those ‘dreaded’ tie games.
Stop trying to drastically change one of the best sports out there. Perhaps there will be some new, less informed fans … perhaps … but there will definitely be fewer studious and knowledgeable fans watching in the arenas and on television. Leave the circus stunts for International play, where it has become accepted.