- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
HARRIS: Time for NHL to cut ties with shootout gimmick
It is a bit unsettling to be agreeing with John Tortorella on anything. "Torts" is the king of crusty, the man who led the New York Rangers team that eliminated the Capitals from the past two Stanley Cup playoffs.
But when the man is right, he's right.
The NHL's shootout "should be out of the league," Torts, now the coach of the Canucks, told reporters in Vancouver as quoted by the Canadian Press. "That gimmick should be out of the league."
The Canucks were 2-6 in shootouts this season at the time of the remarks, so maybe that had something to do with it. Likely not. Even if they'd been 8-0, Tortorella's point would stand.
Shootouts are fun to watch. They can be exciting, they can be tense.
They're also a gimmick and they have no place in deciding the actual outcome of a game.
Imagine if the NBA or college basketball decided one overtime was enough. Let's just go to a free-throw shooting contest.
Or if baseball said hey, after two extra innings we're going to turn this into Home Run Derby!
Bogus. Gimmick. Any other synonym that comes to mind.
If you've watched much of the Caps lately, you can't help but think about shootouts since it seems like they're in one every game. Their 14 shootouts thus far lead the league, and they're 8-6 in them.
In the two previous games before Wednesday's matchup at Pittsburgh, the Caps went to shootouts against Buffalo and then San Jose. Caps coach Adam Oates sent Eric Fehr, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom out in that order in each game. None scored. None really came close. Six cows on skates, maybe even blindfolded cows, might have come closer to scoring, actually. Poor Philipp Grubauer gets beat once and the Caps earn only one standings point while the other team gets two.
But the opinion wouldn't change even if the Caps were perfect in shootouts, even if the great Ovechkin could actually manage to score in one of them (he has at some point, though it hasn't happened very often lately).
They're a gimmick. They should be out of the league.
Shootouts are relatively new. The league adopted them for the 2005-06 season, part of a way to ignite some interest in the league following a season lost to lockout. Ties used to be a part of regular-season hockey. But who wants to see a tie? Let's figure out a way to have an actual winner, even if we have to cheapen the game!
What's wrong with a tie? It was a perfectly acceptable result for a lot of years, as much a part of hockey as faceoffs and fisticuffs. And it isn't like they were happening all that much.
Per the NHL release announcing the shootout, 14 percent of the NHL games in the 2003-04 season ended in ties. Is that so bad?
Going into Wednesday, the Caps had been involved in 89 shootouts since the rule was changed (it only seems like all of them have been this year). They'd won in 41 of them, good for 20th among all NHL teams. Pittsburgh, perhaps not surprisingly, is tops with 58 shootout victories in 88 tries.
As for the Caps players, they're a mixed bag. The choices Oates made in recent games are probably his best options to start the shootout, recent results notwithstanding.
Backstrom is 6 of 12, Fehr 5 of 8. Ovechkin is the real head scratcher. He's the reigning MVP and leads the league in goals and he's 2 of 13 in shootouts this season (25 of 81 for his career). Mikhail Grabovski is 5 of 10 this season. Maybe Oates was saving him to be one of the extra shooters if it extended beyond the normal three shots. Brooks Laich is 2 of 2, Troy Brouwer 2 of 5, Martin Erat 1 of 2. No other Cap has a shootout goal this season.
Erat is at 32.7 percent for his career (16 of 49) with 12 game-deciding goals but he's not much of an option since he spends most of his time as a healthy scratch in the press box, waiting to be traded (along with one of the three goalies perhaps?). Maybe the Caps should have re-signed Matt Hendricks after all. Now an Edmonton Oiler, Hendricks is 9 of 17 for his career in shootouts.
The current career leader in shootout goals, just for the trivial heck of it, is Brad Bowes of Florida with 37 (in 79 tries).
These aren't decisions Oates, Tortorella or any NHL coach should have to worry about in the regular season. Take your tie, take your point and go home.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
- HARRIS: Wizards have moved to head of D.C.'s class
- HARRIS: Bad luck or bigger omen, early returns for Nationals are troubling
- HARRIS: Masters has plenty of appeal in Tiger's absence
- HARRIS: Throwing it all away: What to do with Ryan Zimmerman?
- HARRIS: Fans get an early taste of replay's impact on baseball
Latest Blog Entries
- Gio Gonzalez living a dream by throwing bullpen sessions to ex-Yankee Jorge Posada
- Meet Connor Carrick, the youngster who played his way onto the Caps' final roster
- Go Aggies: Nationals notes and lineups for Sept. 14
- RG3: There is no conflict with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
- Sunday Nats-Dodgers lineups and some thoughts from reliever Craig Stammen
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- EDITORIAL: More Lerner smoking-gun emails at IRS
- Immigration still on hold: Boehner's office
- Former Blue Angels commander relieved of duty for alleged misconduct
- Critics rail against liberal bias for commencement speakers
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- ISTOOK: IRS "wants to throw us in jail," says tea party leader
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.