Today Michael Farber, normally someone who I'd consider to be a fairly decent hockey writer, wrote an article about how he wouldn't mind seeing shootouts in overtime (via KK).
Feel free to cringe, but this is where the 21st century is heading. Life should move fast, to borrow from umpire Cowboy Joe West, so how much of a good playoff hockey game is too much? Three overtimes? Four? A Keith Primeau five? If somebody scores at 2:05 a.m. and nobody is awake to see it, is it still a classic?
I understand the sanctity of playoff overtime as much as the next fellow who bought a scalped upper-balcony, end-arena ticket to watch Bobby Orr as a rookie -- $5, double the face value -- but I would not take it as a personal affront if the evening concluded with the drama of a shootout. (Right ... you turned off the set on Sunday because you think the shootout is a fluffy confection that should not decide a season.) Well, the shootout works okay for Olympic hockey.
Farber wants Igor to calmly wait on the bench for his turn to shoot in the shootout
rather than score this goal that apparently I was sleeping for (according to Farber).
From other hockey writers, you get regular articles about banning fighting, enlarging the nets, and other daily discussions about ways to "fix" the game.
And today it occured to me why I only read sports journalists for updates about gameday lineups and turn to bloggers for when I want opinions about the game. These "hockey" journalists aren't real hockey fans at all; at best, most of them are casual fans who's work happens to be writing about hockey.
That's why you see these articles with these opinions about the game, our game, that make you think, "that SOB simply doesn't get it." That "it" is something you only get from lacing up the skates with the boys (or girls), from growing up with the game, from really loving everytime that rink smell hits you when you step into any rink.
That's why it's not a "personal affront" to Mr. Farber to change the NHL playoffs, but would be to nearly every fan with an Winnipeg Jets logo on a poster somewhere in their house. Or why Ken Campbell manages to totally miss the point on 90% of his articles, but somehow Puck Daddy hits a home run (scores a hat trick?) almost every day. Or why I simply don't have much interest in anything Damien Cox has to say, but I'll hang on Down Goes Brown's every word. These journalists write about hockey because they have to pay the bills, not because it's in their blood.
I dig the shootout, I do think it needs some fine tuning (and there are simply too many of them), but I think it works in the part of the year that can get a little boring at times. But in no way does it belong in the playoffs. A real hockey fan knows this. Sudden death overtime is part of our game, it's the one of the many ways that makes hockey what it is, one of the many little things about the game that makes hockey just a little better than anything else on ESPN. And it makes sense that a casual fan, who's job says that he has to know the NHL inside and out, doesn't totally get it.
But that's not who I will be listening to for opinions about the game. And for God's sake, I hope that's not who the NHL brass listens to when making decisions about the game.
(Note: This doesn't apply to every journalist, as there are a select few that you can tell really know and love the game. But without a doubt, this does apply to every journalist in the Detroit area, with the exception of Bruce MacLeod...may god rest his hockey soul.)