Hockey Playoff Games TOO Long?? Hell NO!

Driving to work this am I caught the end of Stellick and Landry. Stellick’s “parting shot” was that he is sick of NHL overtimes going beyond the first OT and wants the league to move to 4 on 4 overtime periods after the first additional frame if there isn’t a winner. Mike Brophy has just posted the same thing on his blog over at Sportsnet. To each, guys who I respect, I say phooey. Yes the games can go on for what seems like ever, but who cares?? It’s sudden death. Don’t start messing with it.

No, I am not a historical apologist. I don’t long for the games of yesteryear. I do however think that OT hockey is fantastic and part of the battle is the fight to see which team can handle the duration, which is in better shape to keep going. Little TSM asked me as the game entered the 3rd OT how long they would let them play. The answer I gave was that they would play until they couldn’t play anymore. From a fan perspective, when do we ever get more then we paid for EVER? We don’t. OT and extra innings are the few times in life where the fans get a little bit more. In a baseball playoff game should the teams remove the center fielder or the 2nd baseman? What’s the hurry? What’s the rush???

“But overtime period after overtime period after overtime period? No way! I am quite certain this will offend many and quite frankly, I don’t care. Play one period of 5-on-5 overtime and if the score is still tied, play 4-on-4 until a winner is declared. It really isn’t a radical idea. I understand this would be a huge break from tradition, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. The NHL went to 4-on-4 in overtime in 1999-2000 and we survived, right?”

For one, I am not offended Mike. It would take a hell of a lot more then that to offend me. I have no problem with 4-4 in the regular season. It was done to add some excitement, to open the game up and to prevent teams from playing for the tie. I love the shootout too. For the same reason, it’s exciting as hell. OT hockey in the playoffs is generally not teams trapping, just trying to hang on!

“For heaven’s sake, it’s just a freaking hockey game! The fate of the world is not depending on the outcome.”

That’s right Mike it is just a freaking hockey game. So why bother messing with it??!!

“NBC announced beforehand it would pull the plug on Saturday’s Pittsburgh-Washington game if it went beyond one period of overtime to broadcast the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. You would have to be delusional not to understand why such a decision was made. The Kentucky Derby versus a Saturday afternoon NHL game. Hmm, wonder what gets the bigger ratings in the States?”

That Glen Healey, he is just so damn delusional!

“Before you go racing to the bottom of the page to fire off a nasty email reminding me baseball games can go deep into the night because of extra innings, may I remind you baseball is a little more widely accepted in the United States than hockey. When hockey matches baseball in popularity, get back to me on this overtime issue. The NHL has done a wonderful job in recent years making changes to improve the game. It’s not about catering to Americans; it’s about improving the product. After a painful period during which time the league established a standard for eliminating obstruction, the game is better. Not perfect…but better. Goalie equipment has been reduced in size and the game is better. The shootout was introduced in the regular season and the game is better. I love for the day when I can sit down to watch an NHL playoff game knowing I don’t have to have a week’s worth of food and supplies in the house just in case it goes into overtime. Your move, Gary.”

All good points. Let me ask this though. When do we stop screwing with things to appease an audience that will never be there?? No matter what the league does (with the exception of adding in bikini’s, taking helmets off and making fighting mandatory) will ever make the game “popular” in the USA. At least not popular enough to warrant the changes everyone constantly want to make. Ask the fans (and there are die hard fans in each US based market) if they want these changes made?? Isn’t it time to at least consider those who follow the game already as opposed to making changes to try and gain an audience that isn’t there. Do you think 1 person is more likely to watch a game simply because they know the end is pre-determined? Hockey is complicated enough to teach a non fan, now you are going to build in new rules for overtime in the playoffs?

I just love how media types use the phantom American audience as a basis to make changes to the game. The glowing puck worked wonders didn’t it??


About the Author