Nobody likes a whiner in hockey – and I don't like to accentuate the negative – but I've got a few pet peeves about the game. So, with the All-Star Game around the corner (it's Sunday, Jan. 25 in Montreal), here are some aspects of the NHL that definitely are not all-star worthy:
1. The shootout: Don't like it. Never liked it. Get rid of it. Here's a link to my most recent annual anti-shootout rant if you want to see the specifics of my argument. Basically, my point is this: The shootout is great. In the All-Star Game. Or in a road hockey game. Or in a video game. But not in the NHL. OK…that's it for me dumping on the shootout. Until next season.
2. Three-point games: On a basic, common-sense level, it just ain't right that some games are worth two points and others are worth three. Plus, it takes away some of the intensity out of the playoff stretch drive because it's that much harder to make up ground in the standings.
3. Points percentage: How can a team that has won 15 times in 40 games be a .500 team? If their record is 15-15-10, that's how. That might be 40 points in 40 games – but we all know it isn't really a .500 record. Nor is it indicative of a .500 winning percentage. It is, however, a "points percentage" of .500; as in, it represents 40 of a possible 80 points. Of course, a team could go 0-0-82 and be a .500 team; yep, a club could lose 82 overtime contests and still have a .500 record. I mean, .500 points percentage. Whatever the heck that is…
4. Offsides: Remember five years ago or so, when the American League tried out three-foot-wide bluelines (and center red line) in an effort to increase the size of the attacking zones and decrease the size of the neutral zone? Another perk was that the fatter bluelines made it easier to avoid going offside. But the real bonus was this: fewer stoppages in play and a lot more flow to the game. Bring in the big bluelines, NHL!
5. Icings: This isn't a request for no-touch icings (although, their time will come). This is just a general observation: Icings are boring.
6. Fighting: Talk about saving the best for last. I go back and forth on this one, but I do believe in the long view of history, fighting will be eliminated from hockey (at least, the penalty will be increased substantially, to the point that NHL teams will no longer save a roster spot for one-dimensional enforcers). To me, the last hockey fight worth remembering was the leader-versus-leader bout in the 2004 Stanley Cup final that saw Jarome Iginla throw down with Vincent Lecavalier. Pretty sure that one wasn't staged – unlike 95 percent of other fights these days. It's time to get rid of the sideshow, folks.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.
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