You Asked For Miracles, Theo, I Give You The NHL

Taking a small break from the impending doom of the Hawks Cap-acolypse or whatever we’re calling it these days to stare in shock and horror at some of the decisions that are coming from the NHL this week. And it’s not just from the BOG (a more perfect acronym it could not be), but even the players themselves.

First up, the NHLPA’s decision to push for total 3-on-3 OT instead of the scaled model the AHL used last year which was split between 4-on-4 and 3-on-3. 3-on-3 OT is only slightly less of a gimmick than the shootout. And the difference wouldn’t be enough to get a couple sheets of paper through. Sure, there’s actual passing and maybe defending (though how much?) which I guess makes it better than the shootout. But that’s not hockey. It’s artificial excitement. At least 4-on-4 happens in the context of a game rather often, so it’s not foreign. When do you ever see 3-on-3? And again, they will be deciding playoff spots on this dumbassery.

The GMs relented, because they abhor the shootout so much. You can see why GMs are the most vocal, because their work in constructing teams is for 5-on-5 play basically, and they can lose playoff spots and their jobs based on the results of a coin toss that is the shootout. So they’ll take anything that will reduce that influence. But I doubt they’re going to like how game decided by 3-on-3 play that much better. You’re essentially going to have games decided on who can convert their 2-on-1s or breakaways first. And isn’t that just basically the shootout plus?

If GMs and players don’t like their fates in a game and season balancing on the shootout, here’s an idea…. get rid of the fucking thing! I seriously doubt any serious hockey fan would miss it, and I seriously doubt its existence is the only thing keeping casual fans around. If your game depends on a gimmick to get more people watching than there’s something fundamentally wrong with your game.

The players were worried about wear and tear an extra two minutes of OT would provide, which of course didn’t stop them from sanctioning a preseason international tournament next year, wetting themselves over the Olympics, or not even hinting at shortening the season so the last two teams playing in the Final don’t resemble Shaun Of The Dead like their NBA counterparts have talked openly about.

However, I’ll die hoarse and bitter if I keep screaming for the shootout to be eliminated (though I bet the day Montreal or Toronto get bounced from the playoffs in a shootout on the last day of the season or something and this discussion will get serious), because we know it’s not going anywhere. The 3-points-for-a-regulation-win system has been the obvious answer for years, and it’s another one the NHL will never take as it will interrupt it’s faked parity. Bad teams won’t be able to hang around under that system, but it would certainly motivate coaches to get things done in 60 minutes. It makes all the sense in the world, which is why you’ll never see it.

Ah, but hockey is never done hockeying. While they won’t come out and say it, this week leading up to the Awards in Vegas was the perfect time to prepare the ground for expansion into Vegas. I don’t know if Vegas works as a market. I tend to think it probably will, as warm weather cities that don’t have to compete with the NBA in their markets have generally done ok (Nashville, Tampa, San Jose. Not sure Raleigh counts considering how important college basketball is there, which is probably Reason 1 to lose North Carolina from the Union) whereas those that do haven’t (Arizona, Florida, Dallas at times).

But what I do know is that a league that has spent years decrying its lack of scoring and excitement (and they’re not always the same thing, which is why the scoring argument is a load of shit to me) probably should’t be diluting its talent pool when it doesn’t have to. It also probably shouldn’t be looking to expand into new markets when it has old ones on its hands that are calling for the hospital chaplain (aforementioned Arizona and Florida).

Again, we know why this is happening. The owners aren’t going to turn down $500 mildo per expansion team that they don’t have to share with the players. The players aren’t going to turn down 23 new jobs, as well as a successful new franchise probably pushing the cap in the future (not to mention the scheduled trips to Vegas. What would a Vegas team’s home record be? 39-2?). Everyone wins, except the fans having to watch some palooka on their 3rd line who should be in the AHL and more and more teams trying to trap because they didn’t have the talent to skate with others. Didn’t we learn?

Ah, learning. Not something they do around these parts, is it?

  • Is it going to be a mandate that every away team gets an extra day for travel after playing in Vegas.

    • DJ

      Probably not. They discussed the possible “Vegas effect” when the NBA had the All-Star Game there. That event was a full weekend, with lots of downtime, which led to the inevitable misbehavior. The ordinary visiting team trip to Vegas would be late at night, often after a game. Right to the hotel and sleep. Morning shoot-around (or skate), leave for the airport immediately after the game.

      If a particular team can’t discipline its team enough to avoid temptation, they deserve the consequences.

      The issue is whether there are enough locals to support the home team. You don’t want another Phoenix or Miami where half the crowd (of a not-sold-out arena) are expats.

      • VegasHawksFan

        I have lived here now for five years, and I believe there is plenty of support. For those of us here who have already put up real cash as a deposit for season tickets (well over 10k people at this point), it has become maddening to hear the endless prognosticating by NHL media about why it won’t work here because of bad decisions made by teams like Phoenix. It’s a transient place here to be sure and heck, chances are I could be back in Chicago by the time a team gets started here. Still, I believe there is a serious market here that is not getting served at the moment.

        For myself and the friends I play hockey with out here, our desire is decidedly selfish in that we are becoming rabid with the thought of actually having NHL hockey here. True, this is a city full of expats, but it’s expats from all over the country who genuinely like hockey. I’m certainly going to rock a Hawks jersey when they come to town, but the rest of the time? I’ll happily buy season tickets, a jersey or two and some shitty, overpriced stadium food. I know I’m not alone in that.

  • lizmcneill

    “But what I do know is that a league that has spent years decrying its
    lack of scoring and excitement (and they’re not always the same thing,
    which is why the scoring argument is a load of shit to me) probably
    should’t be diluting its talent pool when it doesn’t have to.”

    Historically, diluting the talent pool has increased scoring –

    And dilution might not be all bad. Maybe the Teuvos make the NHL faster because the Bolligs are playing in Vegas and Seattle instead.

    • Matt

      I tend to agree. I’m more excited about seeing hockey grow in this country (and long-term, if you get more fans you get more talent anyway) than I am upset about the talent pool shrinking.

      The 3-on-3… yeah, dumb, but whatever. I’ve resigned myself to the idea that there won’t be a reasonable outcome at the ends of the games.

    • ZigZags82

      Point was I think that hockey doesn’t have to be high scoring to be exciting, no?

  • Harry Longwood

    Kill the shootout and bring back ties #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion

  • Hags

    Ideally there needs to be expansion and relocation happening all around the same time. Moving the ‘Yotes and Panthers to real hockey markets is going to help everyone involved. I would like to see Vegas and Seattle get expansion teams, with relocation of the Panthers and Coyotes to Quebec City and Markham/Toronto. Have the new Toronto team join the Western Conference to balance everything out.

    • Jhary Kenshura

      That’s been my problem with the entire expansion idea. Owners and the NHL have been whining about losing money while having lockouts and trying to get new arena deals in more than a couple markets. Um, then relocate Az, Florida, Carolina and any other team that constantly says it’s losing money before you expand to any markets.

  • Cluster_Puck

    I have a fear that sole purpose of expansion is to allow for an increased cap. from what I hear, without the escalation the cap would have gone done this year.

    The Canadian and US TV contracts are not up for renewal anytime soon, so this could just be a life line as the only way to raise league revenue to increase the cap and prevent the embarrassment of having the cap decrease?

    Yes, expansion fee’s don’t going into the pot, but two new teams bring more to the table. This could be a dreary sign on the health of the league and if that is the case, expansion can backfire on them when in 5 years Vegas, Phx and Miami have nowhere to go?

  • 334Rules

    As for the 3 on 3, it’s just another gimmick, agreed. But I do think this is one that may actually benefit the Hawks. Name 3 other players on the same team anywhere in the league that can defend against – or score against – a lineup of 88-19-81?

    • Jim

      This is what I’m talking about. Or, 20-19-88 works as well, or better. And don’t forget that Crow is nails against breakouts.

  • DJ

    Banner Night — Wednesday, October 7. Against the Rangers.

  • HawkVision

    “But all the other mean people made fun of us that our sport has TIES! We HAVE to listen to them so they don’t make fun of us anymore!”
    That’s pretty much what I understand from the league as to why the stupid shootout exists and why 3-on-3 is being considered instead of going back to ties and/or a 3-pt system.

    • Black JEM

      Arguably the two most lucrative and powerful leagues on the planet – EPL and NFL have ties. EPL doesn’t even have OT.

      Its BS – go to a 3 point system.

  • Cluster_Puck

    I think they should keep it 5v5, but play with two pucks. Then every 2 minutes drop another puck until someone scores.

    • Sopel the catfish
    • DJ

      Rollerball rules?

    • Bob in EP

      That sounds a little like my idea for making NASCAR more interesting by putting some old lady in a Hummer on the track for the second half of the race.

    • HawkVision

      Or like in Sport Goofy Hockey where the ref is hit and pucks explode everywhere? If we’re gonna get gimmicky, let’s go ahead and get silly at the same time too.

  • Bannerman

    Edzo must really hate the 3 on 3 because the forwards won’t have the D and the D won’t have the forwards.

  • TitanTransistor

    I think, sometime in the future, we’ll be so entrenched in digital media that we won’t need the shootout.

    Cable is dying. Eventually we’re all going to be streaming hockey straight to our tvs through one of the rights holders, if not the NHL itself. Once the market hits a large enough percentage, I think we’ll see two phases:

    Phase 1: The game goes to OT, 5v5, For however long NBC or CBC or whoever is willing to take it (5, 10 minutes, whatever). And then the broadcast will end and say ‘the game will continue and end on ‘insert streaming service/website/app of choice”. It won’t affect anybody actually AT the game, and most of the hardcore fans will probably already be signed up anyway, and by that point these services will be so integrated anyway, it will be as much of a hassle as flipping the channel. 5v5 OT finishes.

    Phase 2: Enough people have cancelled their cable and get their media via other sources , streaming content, what have you, that there is no cut off. The game goes 5v5 OT until it ends. Then you turn off your roku/itv/media center and go on with your life, amused that we used to actually cut regular season games off prematurely for the sake of cable companies that are long dead.

    • DJ

      Do you honestly think a rights holder would agree to a system where, once the broadcast window is reached, they end their coverage whether or not a winner has been determined?

      • TitanTransistor

        Yes, if they were directing it to the NBC website, or app, or whatever.

        Frankly, I don’t think rights holders are going to have a ton of leverage by the end of the next decade.

  • Porter

    All teams should be required to play at 4v4 in OT but with at least one very fat man and one stick thin man.

    • Jane Doe

      Nintendo had great success with that and I second it. Let’s put it to a vote!

  • Jane Doe

    Instead of 3-on-3 I was hoping for popsicle eating contest or a unitard speed skating contest, only because the Hawks are ready for that shit.

    • Kristy Lane

      I was hoping for a super aggressive round of Rock Paper Scissors. But I really like the idea of unitards.

      • Sopel the catfish

        RPS can solve any conflict, although the pros are hardcore about it. Seriously, there are championships and strategies and the whole 9 yards. Tip #1, men are far more likely to throw rock and women usually lead with scissors.

      • Jane Doe

        If I were a more confident man, I’d rock a fucking unitard daily.

        • Brandon Murray

          Amen, if I was a few years younger and a few (30) pounds thinner, unitards would be my outfit of choice.

  • rilo0912

    I agree that 3×3 does not seem like the same sport. It might be exciting, but it is a completely different game than the first 60 minutes. I wouldn’t mind seeing overtime being 5×5 or 4×4, but with a shortened bench and a running clock. Once a player leaves the ice he’s done. There could be variations on this theme as well. Maybe the players aren’t done once they leave the ice, but you have a shortened bench. I would expect that this would expedite a goal in sudden death play.

  • To Saad be the glory

    Bettman’s nhl reminds me of the satellite companies. “we will give you this great deal for signing up,but fuck you if you’ve been around for ever,we’re not giving you shit. I miss the old 5v5. You played 60 minutes,busted your ass,played 5 minutes of O/T,if no one won,oh well,you took the point and moved on. Some teams actually made the playoffs because of all those ties.I guess if 3v3 means less shootouts I can learn to live with it. Only problem is 3v3 and then a S/O makes things seem even worse.

    • DJ

      Eh. You still get the point if you take a game to OT, but the audience (TV and in-person) gets whatever satisfaction there is in seeing a “winner” determined (whether in the more true-to-the-game OT period, or the arbitrary skills competition).

      Downthread, it was suggested that three points should be awarded for a win, as in most soccer leagues. That might be a way to encourage teams to go for it during normal (or OT) play as opposed to “(taking) the point and (moving) on.” With the latter system, you got five minutes of marking time.

      As the players didn’t want a split OT (some portion of OT 4×4, the rest 3×3), going to straight 3×3 should make for fewer games heading to a shoutout.
      So I’d suggest:

      Regulation or OT win — 3 points
      Shootout win — 2 points
      OT or shootout loss — 1 point
      Regulation loss — no points.

      OT, as agreed to by the players, 5 minutes of 3×3.

      That gives the teams the incentive to play to win in normal play, plus the audience the certainty of a guaranteed “winner.” Plus, if the game is decided in OT or a shootout, the loss is mitigated slightly.

      • See what about the following:

        Reg/OT win – 2 points
        Shootout win – 1 point
        Loss – 0

        Right now teams are rewarded for getting it to overtime. Take away that incentive. You get it to overtime you aren’t guaranteed anything. Secondly, you can earn a consolation point if you get to a shootout and win

        • DJ

          I think positive reinforcement (3 points for a win) works better. You’d rue it the first time your team played a blinder of a game only to lose in a skills competition and get bupkis.

          • To Saad be the glory

            I could agree with any of the above,save for the fact that teams would probably need 120 pts to make the playoffs(just a rough number off the top of my head). Where does it all end? Guess I’m just old fashioned.

  • HawkIPA

    Just bring back the damn tie. Now get off my lawn!

  • T.M.

    how about just keep playing till somebody wins at 5 on 5. that’s what they did until wwii.

    • DJ

      Well, with chartered flights and all, it’s not like the teams will miss their travel connections. But it’s quite likely during the season that one or both teams will be playing somewhere else the next night. Not a situation you see in the playoffs. Accordingly, you have to end regular-season games within a somewhat reasonable time period.

      • T.M.

        then it should be a good incentive to win without gimmics.

        • DJ

          But it’s still entertainment.

          You have to balance the interests of the game as a game (minimize “gimmicks”) with the fans (they’d like to see a winner, and it not take TOO long, because school and work beckon tomorrow), with TV and radio (blocking out a 3:00-3:30 window on a regular basis is better than the crapshoot of indefinite OTs all year long), with that of the players (they’ll go to the wall to win a playoff game, but an OT game in November or around Christmas?). It’s a multi-variable issue, and I’m not sure you can satisfy everyone.

          • guest

            Not to mention wear and tear on the players themselves. The NHLPA would never stand for it so it won’t happen, but if it did you’d see a ton more injuries.

            Sure, yeah, they did it in the 30s, but they also lit up a cigarette and had a steak in between periods in the 30s. The speed and athleticism of the game have totally changed. Duncan Kieth is probably the only player alive who could survive a season where every game might go to multiple OTs.

    • GoldenJet

      You, sir, have earned one face palm.

  • derlemke

    Ah man I live in North Carolina (grew up in Crown Point, IN). Yep college basketball is huge, but NC big cities are not all that different from Northern big cities. Charlotte is a lot of fun and so is Asheville. There is a pretty big cultural war, Urban vs Rural, going on. I live in Asheville and it’s full of Illinois transplants and Cub hats are abundant around the city. Plus our beer is amazing.

  • cza

    Not going to lie, I am sure I will love 3-v-3 once we start rolling Kane, Teuvo, and Saad out (occasionally swapping Panarin in for Saad).

  • The_Cheeb

    Naked goalies in overtime !

  • To Saad be the glory

    Bergeron won the Selke again,guess Toews will have to settle for the Stanley Cup.

    • jordyhawk

      Bergeron is nails. Nothing wrong with losing to him (and they don’t name lakes after you for winning that one).

  • The_Cheeb

    Why is Sam tweeting that he hopes Oshie goes to the Red Wings?

  • jordyhawk

    I was all for giving Runblad a shot but I gotta say I am with Q on this one. He just didn’t impress; he has the nice shot and can move the puck some but the rest is below standard. I don’t know if this is Stan wanting to save face, but I just don’t see him bringing enough to stick.

  • Brandon Murray

    Hans Fucking Gruber is the greatest villain of all time. “Shoot the glass”

  • Jane Doe

    I understand I’m biased and the Hawks didn’t have the greatest regular season but……in what universe does Duncan Keith finish 7th in the Norris? The fuck?!

    He’ll just have to settle for the Conn Smythe and The Cup.

    • The_Cheeb

      Obviously not a big deal overall. Maybe more shocking though, is that something like 150 voters give first through 5th place votes, maybe 800 votes overall, and not a single vote got earned by Hammer.

    • Joe

      It’s a regular season award. Hammer would have to step up his offensive game to win one.

  • Chuck Miller

    I’m so glad you mentioned 3 points for regulation wins. It’s obvious that it would make many more games end in regulation which benefits everybody.