NHL Shootout

            This abomination should be eliminated immediately.

            Let’s start with the fact that there is nothing inherently wrong with a tie game. Even with the shootout, one of the teams is going to end up with only one point, which they would have with a tie. In the vast majority of cases a visiting team will be happy with one point.

            Next, the shootout is not in any way a normal part of a hockey game. It has a place in skills competitions, but using it to decide the outcome of a game is completely inappropriate.

            The arguments that those who have drunk Gary Bettman’s Kool-aid put forward in favour of the shootout simply don’t stand up.

            Shootout proponents point out that fans never leave before a shootout and stand and cheer while it’s going on. Of course they do, but it’s because the shootout is a spectacle, and we’re mesmerized by spectacles. That’s why we rubberneck at car accidents and will stand and watch a building burn down. Many hockey fans also stand and cheer during a fight; but who would ever let a hockey game be decided by a fight?

            They also say that a breakaway is a normal part of a hockey game, which it is. But, the shootout is not a breakaway. During regulation time and overtime, a player on a breakaway is being chased by opponents and could never slow down and take the time to engage in skills-competition-type showboating moves. My friend Bob Primeau (the hockey legend Joe Primeau’s son) has come up with a partial solution. He would allow the defending team to have one player chase the shooter. I’d refine it as follows. Place the puck on the center ice face-off dot; have the shooter start from behind his own blue line; have the “chaser” stand on that blue line; and, as soon as the shooter crosses his blue line the chaser can take off after him.

            If Bettman won’t end the shootout (and he probably won’t because he doesn’t understand the “game” part of hockey, only the business side), the NHL should at least stop rewarding a point to teams that lose in overtime. Go to two points for a win; none for a loss in overtime; and one for a shootout loss, because it really is a tie game with a spectacle tacked on at the end.

 Limit Sports Panels To Three People

            The NFL started it and now networks covering hockey have adopted it: the sports panel consisting of five (and occasionally more) people. Not being a basketball fan, I don’t know what the NBA does. Three people are enough on any panel, sports or otherwise. Fourth and fifth opinions and comments are either repetitious or inane, sometimes both, and always a complete waste of time.

 Designated Hitter

            Baseball’s National League should be forced to adopt the designated hitter. There are two good reasons for this.

             First, watching pitchers futilely flailing away at the plate is truly painful and another complete waste of time.

             Secondly, the American League team having to sit out one of their key offensive players when games are played in National League parks is an unwarranted World Series aberration and an advantage for the National league team.

             The “double shift” that National League managers have to execute when removing a pitcher from a game is not profound; it’s just complex, and a pretty lame reason to not adopt the designation hitter rule. Remember, too, that the reason the pitcher is being removed in these circumstances is most often that it’s his turn at bat, which simply adds to the arguments in favour of the designated hitter.

 Bench Conga Lines After Goals

            It’s time for the NHL to call a halt to this meaningless, time-wasting, so-called ritual. A ritual is a ceremonial rite in celebration of a significant event. Thousands of goals are scored every season in the NHL and you can count on the fingers of one hand those that truly qualify as significant events, such as a player’s 300th goal.


             This “ritual” was born when the NHL enacted a rule preventing the bench from emptying in celebration of routine goals, which, of course, caused major game delays. The only difference between the bench emptying and the bench conga line is the length of the delay.

 End Stick Salutes After Every Win Ar Home

            This practice began a few years ago when a team (I’ve long since forgotten which one) gathered at center ice after their final home game of the season and raised their sticks in recognition of their fans’ support. That qualifies as a ritual under the definition cited above; but every regular season home-ice win does not. What started out as a meaningful gesture has become trite. Time to end it.