Outing the Shootout

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In an attempt to be persuasive, some people go a little bit overboard. Maybe they’ll distort facts or use statistics selectively. Perhaps, instead, it will lead to an attack on a person’s credibility. Or simply an attack.

But in most situations of debate (heated or otherwise), there’s usually a kernel of wisdom that can be found with either side – as hard as that is to imagine when you’re pointing your finger and flinging yell-spit in your opponent’s face.

Such a scenario comes to mind when normally rational hockey fans discuss the shootout. On one side, there’s the hockey purist who cannot stop his or her blood from boiling when a team earns a win from a skills competition. In the other corner: the devil-may-care, shootout loving iconoclasts. Their battle is mostly full of snark but occasionally a little venom slips into the water supply.

One hockey blogger went as far as to disavow the palpable, obvious buzz that takes place before a shootout. Unfortunately, the memory of the precise puckhead escapes me, which is probably for the best. But basically the author claimed that the aforementioned buzz was a coincidence. That it was happening just because of the shared realization that the game was near an end.

Or some incomprehensible load of drivel shit.

Say what you want about shootouts, you’re just an unflinching douche if this goal didn’t make you smile.

Look, most hockey fans agree on two things: Gary Bettman sucks and a shootout win proves nothing. Facts like those don’t, however, change the fact that a lot of the ticket buying public enjoys seeing shootouts. Every time I’ve been at a hockey game with a shootout the audience was enraptured, engaged and delighted. All eyes were on that nervous forward and that beleaguered goalie.

Honestly, there’s only two GUARANTEED times when people will stop what they are doing and watch a hockey game: a fight and the shootout. Plenty of hockey fans/purists/stat heads struggle with this fact but the evidence is undeniable.

There are times in life when you simply need to make the best of a situation. We may not like that a winner is crowned by an arbitrary event, but at least that event can bring about the occasional moment of transcendence (and give players like Marek Malik and Jussi Jokinen a brief moment in the spotlight). Sure, it sucks balls that a true winner isn’t crowned and it sucks even hairier balls that some teams might make or miss the playoffs due to their shootout prowess or lack thereof. If given the choice, I’d abolish the shootout but there are worse injustices in the sport.

Like the great prophet Sean Connery would say, “Buck up, Chap.” And rub some dirt on it. Maybe you should let that frozen pond once known as your heart melt a little and learn to squeeze some enjoyment out of shootouts. Just this week we got the treat of watching Mike Ribeiro bamboozle a goalie with a one-handed deke and subsequently enrage literally hundreds of Kings fans in the process.

Honestly, is this THAT much worse than kissing your sister?

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