Saturday, September 17, 2005

Comedy of Errors: Pre-Season Shootouts

Today's NHL story is so crazy that if I did not know better, I would be convinced it was written by comedy writers to parody the league. The NHL has adopted shootouts as one of its rule changes for this season. As many readers have my have noticed, I do not like shootouts. This is a point I have made a few times, for example here. Shootouts are an individual skills competition that should not be used to decide a team game (why not have a fastest shot competition or a relay race where players skate around pylons - wouldn't it be the same?).

Nevertheless, the NHL decided to adopt shootouts to decide games that are still tied after regulation and overtime. The NHL wants to showcase their new shootouts during pre-season, so they have decided to have a shootout after every pre-season game EVEN THOSE THAT ARE NOT TIED. Nothing shows off shootouts more than a meaningless exhibition after some of the fans have already gone home right? Would it be a better idea to have the shootout at the beginning of the game and use its result to decide any ties that might occur? Probably not, but is it any less stupid?

So, after the game is over, the players have to stick around and have a shootout even though the game is over. Now in this meaningless shootout in Friday night's pre-season game where Phoenix defeated Minnesota 3-2 IN REGULATION, Phoenix goalie Brian Boucher got injured. That's right, while facing Peter Olvecky's (Minnesota clearly doesn't care much about the meaningless shootout if they let a rookie from the Slovak league who likely won't make their team shoot) shot, Boucher hurt his groin. He is expected to miss two weeks or so. All this for a shootout that occurred after some of the fans had already gone home. This story is so crazy that I am convinced that it is a joke, but it is reality. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction - at least under Gary Bettman's watch.

TSN's story on the Boucher injury is here.

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