THN: "The OT Argument "

Lesedauer: ca. 3 Minuten

Die Titelstory der neuesten Ausgabe der nordamerikanischen Fachzeitschrift "The Hockey News" beschäftigt sich mit den zum Teil stundenlangen Verlängerungen in den NHL-Playoffs.

The OT Argument

In an era of regular changing and tweaking of hockey, there’s more and more debate on the merits of streamlining playoff overtime games so they don’t extend into a third or fourth extra frame. Senior writer Mike Brophy and senior editor Sam McCaig had to be separated when they argued the point in the office during the opening round.

SAM MCCAIG: You want intensity? Excitement? Passion? A sense of anticipation that magnifies every play? You want to sit on the edge of your seat for maybe five minutes or five hours, living and dying with every 3-on-2 and glove save and bad bounce? You want to jump up and scream and plead and cheer until you finally cry exhausted tears of double-deflection joy?

Then watch NHL playoff hockey and pray the score is tied after 60 minutes. And 100 minutes. And on and on, until endurance prevails.

Overtime should remain the same full-team game and playoff-marathon microcosm it has always been, challenging the extreme limits of clubs’ depth and heart and skill and stamina.

What are the options, anyway? Going 5-on-5 and then “tweaking” it to 4-on-4 after the first overtime? (First of all…tweak this.) Give that five years, and then watch the NHL slide down the slippery slope to 3-on-3 after the second overtime – and then it’s just one more quick tumble down to the gimmicky shootout. Never happen, you say? Regular season OT started out 5-on-5, went to 4-on-4, and then, in this Internet age of instant gratification, introduced the integrity-less shootout.

Other equally hollow arguments against 5-on-5 are that multiple overtimes take “too long,” the hockey gets “boring” and viewers “fall asleep.”

First of all, the “too long” and “boring” arguments are invalid because they’re totally subjective – one fan’s boring is another fan’s bombastic. If you care at all about either team, overtime is an agony-ecstasy shot of adrenaline. Maybe the Stars-Devils overtime games in the 2000 final weren’t a-chance-a-minute, but here’s betting Jason Arnott’s double-OT Cup-winning goal is still burned into countless brains in New Jersey. (And don’t forget, it came two days after Mike Modano scored in triple OT to extend the series.)

As far as the “too sleepy” argument…are you kidding? If you’re sleepy, do what babies do: sleep. But quit cryin’ and don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

MIKE BROPHY: As I sat there watching the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators skate further and further into the wee hours of the morning, with seemingly no end in sight to Game 1 of their opening round series, all I could ask myself was, why?

Why the heck was I still awake when my alarm clock was set for 6:30 a.m.? So I could wake up and start it all over again? When I couldn’t come up with a decent answer, I flipped the game off and went to sleep.

“How could you turn off such an exciting game?” senior editor Brian Costello wondered the following day.

Exciting game?

“Simple,” I said. “I closed my left eye and then I closed my right eye.”

And trust me, I was already halfway to dreamland having suffered through the first overtime period, during which the Predators outshot the Sharks 5-4. Yawn.

The crazy thing is, the Sharks-Predators game wasn’t even the longest game played that night. That honor went to the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars who played an additional 78 minutes and six seconds before Henrik Sedin, of all people, put everybody out of their misery with a goal deep into the fourth OT frame.

So what can we do to end this nonsense? Simple. Play one period of 5-on-5 and then drop it to 4-on-4. No shootout. No removing another player per team after the second overtime period. Just 4-on-4 until the damn thing ends. Four-on-four overtime has become of staple of today’s regular season and while the shootout has been a godsend for eliminating tie games, there is no place for it in the playoffs. Just about everybody agrees with that.

None of this would be an issue if long overtime games were filled with end-to-end rushes and numerous scoring chances. But the majority of games that stretch beyond one overtime period become frightfully boring with an emphasis on defense.

To read the rest of this story and other great features from the world of hockey, you can buy this issue

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