By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
Oh yes, the dreaded shootout. Depending on what team you’re rooting for, the shootout can prove to be your worst nightmare—or if you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan, an entertaining sure-win to a hockey game. A set-up breakaway from center ice, where 18,000-plus fans watch a shooter from each team skate down with the puck and try and score on the opposing goaltender. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
An entertaining finish to a hard-fought hockey game and the appeal is surely there, but does it do the game of hockey justice?
Last week, the hockey world was bombarded with the news of a shootout attempt by forward Kaspars Daugavins of the Ottawa Senators, who tried a rather spirited approach against the Boston Bruins. Daugavins used the toe of his stick to control the puck as he skated down the ice and attempted a spin-o-rama move on goaltender Tuuka Rask, who just made the save with his left pad. It was a move that looked as if it belonged in an overrated all-star game where players try and do the most ridiculous moves to score. But in Daugavins’ case, it almost worked. The attempt gained tons of divided attention, both praising the move and criticizing it.
“We were all like ‘He’s not really going to do that is he? What just happened?’” Montreal Canadiens forward Gabriel Dumont said. “If you pull it off you’re a hero, but if you don’t you can look pretty stupid.”
Don Cherry of CBC’s Coaches Corner even tweeted saying, “I don’t blame the kid at all. Let’s face it: the shootout is a gimmick anyway.”
With controversy aside and whether you liked it or not, Daugavins’ chance was a good one. It’s not like he came in, did the spin-o-rama move, and lost the puck in the corner on his attempt. If he was half of a second faster, the puck would have been in the back of the net and he would have been an instant hero. The move would be classified as the best shootout move of all time, beating out Marek Malik’s famous between-the-legs goal in the 05–06 season against the Washington Capitals. But the fact that the young 24-year-old almost scored doesn’t seem to be the issue. It’s the move itself.
How can it be the deciding factor on if a hockey club wins or loses? It’s a total crapshoot. Like Don Cherry said, “a gimmick.” After a hard fought 65 minutes of hockey, including an extra five minutes of four-on-four overtime play, the shootout commences. And Daugavins type of move is performed in a matter of a few seconds that could possibly win the game?
Daugavins’ attempt is proving how ridiculous the shootout has come to be. It is there merely for the sake of entertaining fans and drawing a fast close to a tied game after 65 minutes of hard-fought hockey. It’s hard to believe that a tied game comes down to a shootout where it begins and ends in a span of a few minutes. Thank god it’s not used in the playoffs.
The most frustrating part is the fact that teams can be absolutely dominated throughout the game, but come the skills competition, the tables are suddenly turned. This has been evident in plenty of games for the Vancouver Canucks over the past few years, who have struggled in the extracurricular activity.
It doesn’t depict how the hockey game was played out. It’s a whole game on its own.
I understand why the league decided to introduce the shootout back in the 2005-06 season, but why not try an extra five minutes of overtime hockey instead? After the initial four-on-four overtime frame, there should be a three-on-three session. And if the game is still at a stalemate after 70 minutes, then we can begin to discuss the status of bringing in the shootout.