Monday, May 05, 2008

Ending overtime

I've got no problem with long overtime games. In fact, as soon as they hit near the end of the second OT, there's no chance I would turn in, as I always stick around to see if history can be made.

Last night, the Stars and Sharks went all the way into the night (I started a liveblog at the beginning of the sixth period), making Game 6 of that series the eighth longest game in NHL history, and as a result, ESPN has a poll up today about how the league should handle the marathon games.

I think the answers there are telling.

In response to the question "How many overtimes are you willing to watch before you call it a night?" the majority of respondents, 72 per cent, said "I'll watch as long as it takes."

In response to "Should the NHL consider a rule that would have overtime playoff games decided by shootout?" 74 per cent said no.

Personally, I might be willing to consider a shootout after three or four overtimes, if only to spare the players. Sometimes I wonder during those games if we'll see someone collapse on the ice, or suffer some bizarre injury due to fatigue.

That'd change the discussion in a hurry.

Besides, do we really want a situation where goaltenders are wearing IVs in the intermissions, as Marty Turco did last night?

One more question from the poll: "Is sudden-death overtime fair?"

And 91 per cent said yes, yes it is.



At 2:20 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger halogoggles said...

Maybe 4 on 4 overtime is they answer... No way games are ever going to more than 2 OTs with 4 on 4.

At 2:20 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or what about 5-10 minute, non-sudden death overtimes? could switch to 4 on 4 after say two OTs, could possibly run up the score a lot and we know how much the league likes scoring...

At 2:32 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Patty (in Dallas) said...

That'd change the discussion in a hurry.

Let's discuss it when that happens.

You can't trick up the OT. You have to just keep playing until somebody wins. Eventually fatigue will cause the game to be over because a mistake will cause a goal to be scored.

Why is that worse than artificially ending it in some made-up way?

At 2:36 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

The single best thing about the NHL playoffs are these long OT games. I would despise any effort to change it in anyway.

Besides, if you want to end these games earlier, then the first thing you need to do is call penalties. If referees didnt put away their whistles, you'd have more PP chances (and more drama). Plus, the longer the games went, the more physically and mentally tired the players get, and the more likelihood you'd see a desperate player stepping over the line and taking a penalty.

Why should a tired player be able to tackle a less-tired player just because its overtime?

The one problem with last nights game wasnt that they called two penalties - but they called them for infractions that were happening throughout the OT (and the 3rd period). They were the right calls - but they had no consistency so it seems unfair.

And there's an ancillary problem when refs put the whistles away: the call that HAS to be made. Wasn't it Brian Campbell in Buffalo a few years back who put the puck out of play late in a game 7? Penalties should be penalties at all times in a game.

BTW - this obviously requires the NHL to look closely at its officiating, which has been maddeningly inconsistent these playoffs.

At 2:48 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous cynical joe said...

There is nothing wrong with overtime! Stop trying to screw up the few Hockey traditions that define the game! If it takes 20 OT periods let it play out, if players are fatigued, too bad. And no frickin' shootout or 4on4 circus time either.

At 2:52 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous Robert said...

Hi James,

very interesting poll, thanks for the link. We had some similar discussions here in Germany after the DEL dumped the shootout out of the playoffs. Before that we only had continous overtime in series-clinching-games.

We had three new record games with decisions in 2nd, 3rd and 6th overtime. I was at the one with the 6 OT between the Cologne Sharks and the then-champion Mannheim Eagles, which Cologne won by a goal by Philip Gogulla, who is a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, after 8:16 of the 6th overtime.
It was the second longest game in hockey history. And that is something people who want to discuss this have to understand: These games are the exceptions!

Another factor in my opinion are the referees and it's similar in the NHL playoffs this year. They put away the whistle mostly sometimes in the third period or at the beginning of OT can't bring themselves to pick them up again later on. We had three penalties in this game in the whole six extra-periods. Two of them were simultaneously for both teams. The third one was somewhere in the 3rd OT and everybody in the arena was surprised - to say the least.

But anyhow it was great, we had almost three hockey games for the price of one, we were a part of hockey history and after all we won that game. I would never have liked to miss that game, because that's what hockey is all about and I just love this sport.

For anyone interested, here's the stats sheet of this game:

At 2:53 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having sat through three of the longest games in NHL history in the past five years, all with heavy interest as my favorite team was playing in them, the fact that games can go on for hours until just one goal is scored is what makes the NHL playoffs far superior than the playoffs in any of the other major sports.

Don't change what works.

At 3:31 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger MB said...

Continuous 5-on-5 OT is the only way to go. If any change is to be made, it is the refs actually calling penalties. I've been to triple and quad OT games (Canucks @ Flames 2004 and Stars @ Canucks 2007) - those are two of my top playoff memories. Now if they would only re-open the beer concessions, even better!

At 3:36 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

I'd shorten the overtimes to spare the players if that's what the players themselves wanted - and maybe they do, I don't know. I've never had the privilege of playing a four OT game, but I do know that shootouts suck when the game actually means something. I can't imagine playing 3 OTs in a playoff game and then saying "Just flip a coin so we can get out of here."

But I'd go to 4-on-4 - that's exciting hockey (and maybe a little bit of extra rest for the forwards).

At 3:57 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous dmg said...

I believe there is a clause in the current CBA where only 9 periods can be played in one night; if it were still tied after 6 overtimes, the game would have to resume the next day. I think that's the way it ought to be, rather than having the game be decided by anything other than 5-on-5 action.

Now, whether the cutoff should be sooner (perhaps 3 overtimes) is certainly up for debate.

At 4:01 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I don't see anything in the CBA on overtime at all.

At 4:02 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Pensgirl said...

The only thing I'd do is add in breaks equal to the TV-timeouts to give the players the same rest they now get in a regulation period. I'm really surprised advertisers, networks, and the league haven't already come up with contingency-fee advertising contracts for these situations. It's a small difference but every little bit of rest helps when you're in the fourth OT, and the people who currently stay up for these marathons aren't suddenly going to turn them off because a few ads have been inserted (after all, they're sticking out the intermissions).

At 4:06 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Mike Chen said...

I think the answer to shorter overtimes is simple: call the rules like they should be called. You'll open up ice for skill players to create chances rather than having them grabbed and mauled or you'll have tired teams take dumb penalties and shoot themselves in the foot.

At 4:14 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

The only thing I'd do is add in breaks equal to the TV-timeouts to give the players the same rest they now get in a regulation period. I'm really surprised advertisers, networks, and the league haven't already come up with contingency-fee advertising contracts for these situations.

And thank god for that! Its so nice to have such an important event that is purely about the game and the moment...and not about seeing a car commercial for the 34th time that time.

At 4:41 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The playoff officiating hasn't exactly been "pre-lockout" in its blindness, but any semblance of "zero tolerance" has long ago flown the coop.

We're back to penalties being called only when the infraction takes away a scoring chance.

The innumerable non-calls on Jagr muggings in the NYR-PIT series were a throwback to the bad-old days. I just can't imagine any other league allowing its stars to be mauled by the plugs the way the NHL does. Baffling.

At 4:42 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Pensgirl said...

I don't like ads either Poploser, but the breaks would do the players good. And frankly, if they don't figure out a way to make money off the OTs, then you can bet they will tinker with the format at some point. NBC would have been mighty unhappy if they'd been obligated to run the Stars-Sharks game instead of an infomercial or something. I'd rather see ads than an overhaul of the overtime format.

At 4:56 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Jimmy Jazz said...

If the shootout is ever implemented in the postseason, it will be the end for me as a fan. I'll find some college team to root for. NHLers are some of the most highly conditioned and athletes in all of sports. It would be an insult to decide a postseaon game with a skills competition.

At 6:05 p.m., May 05, 2008, Anonymous baroque said...

When Detroit won the Cup in 2002, they won game three of the final series in triple-overtime in Carolina.

The game started, I believe, on a Saturday night and went into the early morning hours of Sunday. I remember because I was visiting my parents at the time, and at the start of each overtime I decided I was really going to go to bed and get some sleep at the end of this period, whether there was a goal or not - and at the end of each overtime, I totally broke down and kept watching. As a result I saw the winning goal for Detroit and left a note for my mom, since she had already gone to bed because she had to sing with the choir at church.

The priest at my parents' church at the time was a hockey fan.

When my mom and dad got back, they told me that it was easy to see who had stayed up to watch the game and who hadn't. In his sermon, the priest commented on the game and said he could understand and forgive the yawning because he had been up late himself until the end of the game. Then he said, "and for those of you who are wide-awake because you gave up on the Detroit Red Wings before the game was over, shame on you. Have you no faith!"

The entire church cracked up. :)

I love playoff overtime hockey.

At 7:01 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger CDK said...

I live for overtime playoff hockey. I've always said that if they screw around with the format I'm done as a fan.

It seems like somebody has to tinker with the NHL at every turn. Is this a consequence of the short-attention span MTV generation? Besides, as others have said, marathons are the exception - but they are beautiful when they happen. The longer the better - what drama! And isn't that why we watch the game, for the drama.

Nobody has collapsed or died from exhaustion during overtime so let's relax our knee-jerk, worry-wart, preemptive hysteria and enjoy the game. If you want something to worry about, consider eliminating touch-up icing - that's how somebody is going to get seriously hurt.

At 7:09 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Daniel said...

You push yourself to exhaustion and death when you are faced with death, hockey is not, the players will never die from being too tired. The fact that Turco put an IV in his arm is a great example, he has trained medical staff around him. Boxers drink water between rounds and they seem fine. I can play an entire hockey game without taking break, but if I hit a punching bag for 3 minutes, I need a place to lay down for a while.

OT is perfect. The players fatigue will dictate the outcome, it is only the Sharks fault that they couldn't capitalize on the 15 A++++++++++ chances the Stars gave them in OT. *cough*

At 7:00 p.m., May 06, 2008, Blogger auxlepli said...

Playoff overtime hockey is fine the way it is. Four-on-four, in my mind, is more ridiculous than a shoot-out.


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