Ducks’ Vermette suspended 10 games for slashing NHL linesman Shandor Alphonso

NHL administers justice for Vermette slash on linesman Shandor Alphonso.

TheColorOfHockey

The National Hockey League suspended Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette 10 games Thursday for his two-handed slash of rookie linesman Shandor Alphonsoduring the Ducks’ Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

In addition to the 10-game ban, Vermette will forfeit $97,222.22 of his salary, based on his annual salary per NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Linesman Shandor Alphonso (Photo/Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) Linesman Shandor Alphonso (Photo/Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

With 12:30 to go in the third period, Alphonso dropped the puck Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a neutral zone faceoff between Vermette and the Wild’s Mikko Koivu.

What happened next has the hockey world shaking its head.

Koivu won the draw and Vermette stayed still, then turned to Alphonso and gave him a two-handed slash across the  back of his right leg. Vermette, 34, a veteran of 968 NHL games, was given a 10-minute…

View original post 190 more words

Ducks’ Vermette suspended 10 games for slashing NHL linesman Shandor Alphonso

Tags

, , ,

The National Hockey League suspended Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette 10 games Thursday for his two-handed slash of rookie linesman Shandor Alphonso during the Ducks’ Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

In addition to the 10-game ban, Vermette will forfeit $97,222.22 of his salary, based on his annual salary per NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Linesman Shandor Alphonso (Photo/Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Linesman Shandor Alphonso (Photo/Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

With 12:30 to go in the third period, Alphonso dropped the puck Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a neutral zone faceoff between Vermette and the Wild’s Mikko Koivu.

What happened next has the hockey world shaking its head.

Koivu won the draw and Vermette stayed still, then turned to Alphonso and gave him a two-handed slash across the  back of his right leg. Vermette, 34, a veteran of 968 NHL games, was given a 10-minute misconduct for official abuse and ejected from the game.

Alphonso wasn’t injured. The Orange County Register reported that Vermette had been miffed that the puck was dropped when he wasn’t set for the draw.

Alphonso was promoted to full-time status this season, ending a two-year apprenticeship that had him officiating 40 NHL games and 40 American Hockey League contest. He joined veteran Jay Sharrers, his role model, and the NHL’s only other black on-ice official.

Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette.

Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette.

The league had to decide whether Vermette would receive a 20-game suspension for intentionally trying to injure an official or the 10-game ban for the use of physical force against an official without intent to injure.

Ducks Head Coach Randy Carlyle told The Register that Vermette’s action “wasn’t really a vicious or any type of malice thing.”

“He wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,’ the coach told the newspaper. “It was more of a tap to blow-the-whistle-type of thing. Because usually what happens, if they do drop tje puck unfairly, the linesman or the referee will blow the whistle and reset it.”

 

The Color of Hockey’s Lew Serviss wrote this article.

 

 

 

Hockey fans open their hearts and wallets to help the Tucker Road Ducks

Tags

, , ,

Hockey fans, take a bow, dab, break out into a happy dance, or do whatever makes you feel good.

Your kindness and generosity upon reading about the plight of the Tucker Road Ducks, a predominantly black Maryland youth team plunged into hockey homelessness after a two-alarm fire severely damaged its rink in January, helped the team exceed its GoFundMe goal of raising $10,000.

Caring fans donated $10,130 as of Monday. The money will be used to help the Prince George’s County, Maryland, hockey team pay for ice rental time at rinks in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia area until the Tucker Road Ice Rink is repaired or rebuilt.

The team is still accepting donations in anticipation of having to rent ice time away from home during the 2017-18 hockey season.

These Tucker Road Ducks ducklings are all smiles after the hockey community stepped up and donated more than $10,000 to the team after a two-alarm fire severely damaged their home rink.

These Tucker Road Ducks ducklings are all smiles after the hockey community stepped up and contributed more than $10,000 to the team after a two-alarm fire severely damaged their home rink.

“We were only at maybe a little over $2,000 before the blog,” Koi Hamm, the secretary/treasurer of the nonprofit Tucker Road Parents Hockey Organization told me. “We’re just so excited. A few donations, people put their names so we had the kids sign cards just because we want them (donors) to know that we appreciate it.”

People donated what they could – $5, $10, $30 a pop. Some big checks came, too. The Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals  contributed $5,300. The Ducks also received an anonymous donation of $1,500.

“We are extremely grateful to the Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation for helping us exceed our fundraising goal,” said Tucker Road Parent Hockey Organization President Alexandria Briggs-Blake. “The generous support we have received from our community, other organizations and people from around the country, means that the Ducks Ice Hockey Team will be able to afford precious ice time at other rinks while Tucker Road is closed for repairs.”

The Ducks are also hoping for an outpouring of support in the the Kraft Hockeyville “For the Love of Hockey” contest, urging folks to go online and nominate their rink to receive $150,000 in upgrades and an NHL preseason game.

Meanwhile, the Ducks rink misfortune has brought some much-needed major media attention to their plight.

“That blog post actually had people calling us from ESPN, FOX 5,”  Ducks Coach Rahman-Rahim “Coach Rock” B’ath told me. “That blog put us above and beyond on everything that we needed, and we fully appreciate it.”

Coach Rock was interviewed by ESPN News on Friday and a crew from Washington’s WTTG, FOX 5,  attended the Ducks’ game Saturday night at the Herbert Wells Ice Rink in College Park, Maryland. A segment about the team should air on the station in a couple of weeks.

The Tucker Road Ducks are still playing despite their home pond being damaged. The team doesn't know when the Tucker Road ice rink will reopen.

The Tucker Road Ducks are still playing despite their home pond being damaged. The team doesn’t know when the Tucker Road ice rink will reopen.

“People are interested, the word is out, and I’m really glad about that,” Hamm said. “I think this will help push them in not dragging their feet in doing the repairs for with rink. It’s going to be a tremendous help because now I think we’ll get a lot of traction in making sure that they don’t put it on the back-burner. We don’t want this to take five years to rebuild.”

The Ducks players, parents, and coaches have vowed to keep the unique program – which makes hockey accessible to minority and low-income families by providing players with free equipment and charging only $200 in team fees annually – alive despite the devastating blaze closing its home barn for what’s likely to be a long time.

Officials from Prince George’s County and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission met with concerned patrons of the badly damaged rink last week, Hamm said. The county has put a Tucker Road Ice Rink update page on the Prince George’s parks website.

A crew from Washington's WTTG, FOX 5, reports on the plight of the Tucker Road Ducks.

A crew from Washington’s WTTG, FOX 5, reports on the plight of the Tucker Road Ducks.

“They showed us pictures of the rink – there’s a lot of structural damage,” Hamm said. “The’re still awaiting the engineering report to really determine how much damage. But there’s damage to the roof, to the beams. I don’t anticipate the rink being open any time soon.”

She said officials are “looking at solutions for us to have some type of ice team closer to our home rink.”

Since the blaze, the Ducks have been embraced by the Washington-area hockey community, with teams offering to share practice ice team and set up games.

But there’s no place like home, and the Ducks players and parents can’t wait to return to theirs.

“We’re hopeful because they do say they want to make Tucker Road better than what it was,” Hamm said. “But the children are just devastated that they can’t go to their home rink – they got so much ice time there. We just want our rink back.”

 

s

UAE hockey star Fatima Al Ali wows Washington

Tags

, , ,

Fatima Al Ali, a member of the United Arab Emirates women’s national hockey team, has mad stick-handling skills and a shy personality.

Both were on display this week as the Washington Capitals, and Emirates  airlines, brought her to the Nation’s Capital to meet All-Star forward Alex Ovechkin and to drop the puck at the start of the Caps’ 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.

Ali called her time this week  practicing with the Capitals’ and watching them play at Washington’s Verizon Center against the Carolina Hurricanes and Red Wings a dream come true.

After she dropped the puck at Thursday night’s game, Ali showed off another slick move, whipping out her phone and taking a selfie at center ice with Ovechkin and Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.

Rink fire can’t extinguish the hockey desire of Maryland’s Tucker Road Ducks

Tags

, , ,

This is a story about fire and ice, hockey homelessness, and black players in pink jerseys.

The Tucker Road Ducks, a three-year-old team  made up of African-American boys ages 11 to 14, had a healthy slate of games this season, its first ever road tournament coming up in March, and tons of practice time at the Tucker Road Ice Rink, its home barn in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Then an electrical spark ignited a two-alarm fire that raged through the roof of the rink on January 4, severely damaging the building, ruining  thousands of dollars worth of donated hockey equipment down to the team’s signature pink and black jerseys, and leaving a fledgling minority youth hockey program wondering how it will go on without a place to play.

Proud and pink. The Tucker Road Ducks of Prince George's County, Maryland are practicing wherever and whenever they can after a January fire severely damaged their home rink.

Proud and pink. The Tucker Road Ducks of Prince George’s County, Maryland, are practicing wherever and whenever they can after a January fire severely damaged their home rink.

The rink remains closed more than a month after the blaze. Prince George’s County government officials say it will be rebuilt, but haven’t given a timetable for repairs. In the meantime, Ducks players are among the hockey homeless – nomads in search of ice whenever and wherever they can get it.

The team appears to be down, but they are by no means out. Resolve has kicked in, from players to coaches to parents.

“Tucker Road is the place I call home,” Ryan Hamm, a 13-year-old Ducks center/defenseman told me recently. “I see the fire as obviously emotional,…it’s kind of tragic but it’s also motivation for me to get better at hockey.”

Team Coach Rahman-Rahim B’ath, borrowed a line from the sage Bluto Blutarsky, the John Belushi character in “Animal House,” when he described the  Ducks’ fate: “Nothing is over until we decide it is.”

“It’s not going to be ‘Oh well, Tucker Road burned down and that was the end of their program,'” B’ath, also known as Coach Rock, told me recently. “When everything is cut and parents are, like, ‘Alright, we’re done,’ then we’re done. But right now, the kids are pushing, the parents are pushing, the coaches are pushing. We have their backs – no matter what.”

The Tucker Road Parents Hockey Organization, a nonprofit 501c3 entity, started a GoFundMe page to raise $10,000 to help with the sudden expenses that the program dedicated to helping make hockey affordable and accessible to families now faces.

“We’re hanging in there, doing what we can,” parent organization president President Alexandria Briggs-Blake told me. “Our kids don’t know what to do with themselves now on Saturdays and Sundays. They’re, like, ‘Is Tucker Road fixed yet?'”

Ducks player Ryan Hamm, 13, can't wait for Maryland's Tucker Road ice rink to be repaired so the team can have its home rink back.

Ducks player Ryan Hamm, 13, can’t wait for Maryland’s Tucker Road ice rink to be repaired so the team can have its home rink back.

The Washington, D.C.-area hockey community has pitched in to help. When word spread about the fire, the Knights – an Arlington, Virginia, youth hockey team  – offered to share some of its ice time at  The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Maryland.

The Georgetown Titans also opened its practice ice at the District of Columbia’s Fort Dupont Ice Arena, to Ducks players.

With a tournament in York, Pennsylvania, looming next month, Ducks coaches hope to supplement the donated ice with rented ice time – if they can find any in the youth hockey-mad D.C., Maryland, Virginia area.

“The times they have to practice are going to be pretty horrible for the rest of the season – 10:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. or like 6:30 a.m.,” Coach Rock said.

A Tucker Road Ducks player ready for action.

A Tucker Road Ducks player ready for action.

Still, Koi Hamm,  Ryan’s mother and Secretary/Treasurer of the parent organization, is grateful for whatever the team can get and is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the local hockey community.

“We’ve just received so much love from our neighboring rinks…people have been really embracing us,” Hamm said. “It’s just a testament of how closely-knit hockey families are.”

Local rinks and opposing clubs love what the Ducks have accomplished in giving minority and low-income kids the opportunity to play hockey. The team is an offshoot of the Tucker Road rink’s “Give it a Shot” initiative, which provides equipment to kids interested in learning how to play hockey.

The initiative created a critical mass of players three years ago, enough to field a pee-wee/bantam team under the tutelage of Coach Rock and a cadre of parents like Hamm, who skated at Tucker Road in her teen years.

The team makes hockey accessible by making it affordable, charging  parents $200 a season, a fee that includes gear. Other youth teams in the area charge two or three times that amount for a season.

“Hockey is one of the most expensive sports, so you don’t see too many low-income kids playing the sport,” said Max Levitt, executive director of Level the Playing Field, a program that’s provided donated equipment to the Ducks over the years. “Tucker Road (rink), like Fort Dupont, is in a unique situation in that you don’t see sheets of ice in generally minority communities. Anytime you go to an ice rink and see 10 African-American players on the ice at one time, it’s pretty unique.”

Ducks players learn about the game of hockey, but they also learn life skills through the sport. They must maintain their grades or they can’t set foot onto the ice. They also learn to interact with others beyond their neighborhoods.

“Hockey’s a predominantly white sport, but I try not to think of it so much as color because when the kids play, they don’t think of it that way,” said Briggs-Blake, whose 17-year-old son, Antonio, skated for the Ducks. “My son, he’s the only African-American on his junior hockey team now, and these kids don’t even look at that. They love each other, talk to each other, hang out, go to each other’s houses.”

Briggs-Blake dreams of the day the Ducks go back to their house – the Tucker Road ice rink. Parents are bird-dogging the Prince George’s County government, trying to insure that the rink is a front-burner issue and will be rebuilt sooner rather than later.

And while the construction workers have their hammers out, Briggs-Blake has one suggestion.

“What about building two sheets of ice?” she said. “We have dreams and visions.”

 

 

It’s Wayne’s World for Simmonds as he’s named NHL All-Star Game MVP

Tags

, , ,

The 2017 NHL All-Star Game proved to be Wayne’s World, and not because former Edmonton Oilers great Wayne Gretzky was behind the bench coaching.

Flyers' Wayne Simmonds goes back to L.A., takes home NHL All-Star-Game MVP honor.

Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds goes back to L.A., takes home NHL All-Star-Game MVP honor.

Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds was the star of the game played at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Simmonds scored 3 goals, including the game-winner that gave the NHL’s Metropolitan Division a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division in a three-on-three format.

“It’s all pretty surreal,” Simmonds said after the game. “It’s awesome. It’s definitely an honor. There’s so many great players in our game today, to be recognized as an All-Star is pretty special to me.”

Simmonds is only the second black player in NHL history to be chosen All-Star Game MVP. Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr – a  2003 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee – received the honor in 1986.

“I think if you look around the game now, you;re starting to see different ethnicities, not only black, but it’s starting to open up a little bit, and that’s the goal here,” Simmonds said. “Hockey is for everyone, so it’s a great sport. I’m trying to be a good ambassador and stuff like that, so it’s great.”

Simmonds serves on the board of directors of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation which was created by the late Flyers owner, Ed Snider, to build lives, unite communities, and teach life skills through hockey.

The All-Star game and the MVP honor was a Hollywood ending of sorts for Simmonds, who was traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Flyers six seasons ago. Simmonds wasn’t considered the centerpiece of that deal –  center Bryaden Schenn was.

The Flyers knew they were getting a rugged forward in Simmonds, a reliable player who could chip in a few goals, play on a defensive line, and fight. But he evolved into is the Flyers’ leading goal scorer over the last two seasons.

He tops the team in goals so far this season with 21 and is third on the team in overall points – the combination of goals and assists – with 38.

Simmonds is regarded as one of the NHL’s best close-in scorers, using his wiry-but-solid 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame to screen goaltenders and his quick hands to tap in rebounds or tip in shots from teammates.

Former Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette knew he had a diamond in the rough in Simmonds and knew exactly where to put him on the ice when he arrived from L.A. in 2011.

“I just remember Coach Laviolette just putting me net front on the power play from first practice when I got to Philadelphia,” Simmonds said. “From then on out, it was kind of just something that I relished, and I just tried to make the best of my opportunity. We’re sitting here right now, so so far, so good.”

Simmonds has become a prototype for the NHL power forward position. At NHL drafts, several young forwards chosen – particularly players of color – have said that they model their game after Simmonds’. And some NHL general managers talk about looking for Wayne Simmonds-like players in the draft.

 

 

 

 

Edmonton Oilers’ Jujhar Khaira scores 1st goal, makes hockey history

Tags

, ,

Congratulations to Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira for scoring his first National Hockey League goal on Monday and making history by becoming  only the third  Indo-Canadian player to pot a goal in the league.

Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira.

Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira.

Khaira, Edmonton’s 2012 third-round draft pick, took a pass from teammate Mark Letestu and fired the puck by Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in the second period, giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 win at Edmonton’s Rogers Place.

We introduced Khaira to Color of Hockey readers in 2014 when he was a member of the Western Hockey League’s  Everett Silvertips, which had two other players of Punjabi descent on the roster at the time.

With his goal Monday, the Surrey, British Columbia-born Khaira joins Robin Bawa  and Manny Malhotra in the record books. Bawa, a right wing, scored 6 goals and 1 assist in 61 games for the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and San Jose Sharks in the late 1980s and mid-1990s.

Malhotra, who was chosen by the New York Rangers with the seventh overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, tallied 116 goals and 179 assists in 991 games for the Rangers, the Sharks, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Khaira, who is Sikh, told Canada’s Sportnet that his first NHL goal was a dream come true.

“You think about it, at the back of your mind, always,” he told reporters after the game. “Growing up as a kid, playing street hockey, you always picture it in your head as you’re playing. It’s a reality now, and it feels good.”

And it felt great for Canada’s South Asian community, which has grown so much in size and hockey interest that Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts in Punjabi.
“Because this community has had to endure and sacrifice, our parents and grandparents, it’s really rewarding when you see young people achieve success in new areas,” Bhupinder Hundal, a member of Hockey Night in Canada’s Punjabi broadcast team, told CBC. “A hundred years ago people would come here and they couldn’t bring their families. They didn’t have the right to vote and they couldn’t own property. Now Jujhar Khaira can play hockey for the Edmonton Oilers.”

 

Lightning draftee Bokondji Imama goes from bare-knuckled brawler to bar down scorer

Tags

, , , ,

Saint John Sea Dogs left wing Bokondji Imama has gone from scrapper to sniper.

The rugged 20-year-old, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s sixth-round pick in the 2015 National Hockey League Draft, has a reputation as one of the fiercest fighters in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

But these days, Imama is scaring QMJHL goaltenders as much as opposing skaters. He has 27 goals and 10 assists in 40 QMJHL regular season games, up from 7 goals and 19 assists in 47 games during the 2015-16 season.

“I always try to prove to everyone that I’m not just a fighter, I’m also a player” Imama told me recently. “I consider myself as a power forward. This year, I’ve had a chance to prove it with the ice time that the coach gives me.”

Thanks to summer work on his shooting and skating, Saint John Sea Dogs forward Bokondji Imama a scoring threat this season (Photo/St. John Sea Dogs).

Thanks to summer work on his shooting and skating, Saint John Sea Dogs forward Bokondji Imama is a serious scoring threat this season (Photo/David Connell/St. John Sea Dogs).

Imama is the Sea Dogs’ top goal-scorer this season, one ahead of right wing Mathieu Joseph – a Tampa Bay 2015 fourth-round draft pick who played on Canada’s Silver Medal-winning team at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship –  and center Matthew Highmore.

Imama’s 37 points – the combination of goals and assists – makes him the team’s fourth-leading scorer. Highmore’s 65 points – 26 goals and 39 assists  in 42 games- tops the team. Joseph, who signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Lightning before the World Juniors, is second with 26 goals, 24 assists in 31 regular season games.

Imama’s  evolution from a bare-knuckled brawler to bar down goal scorer is also reflected by fewer trips to the penalty box. He has 62 penalty minutes so far  this season.

He collected 86 penalty minutes last season and probably would have had more except for a 15-game suspension  in December 2015 for leaving the bench to defend an under-age 15-year-old rookie teammate against an experienced enforcer and a seven-game suspension in April 2016  for a hit on then-Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defenseman Tobie Pauquette-Bisson.

What’s most striking is that Imama is fighting less this season. The website hockeyfights.com  notes that he’s fought only three times in QMJHL games so far this season. He had one scrap for the Lightning in a September 2016 preseason game against the Nashville Predators.

Imama had five fights in 2015-16 and a whopping 15  bouts in the 2014-15 season, according to hockeyfights.com.

The change in Imama’s game is part of a plan to show that the Montreal native, the son of immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa, is more than just a pair of fists as he completes his final QMJHL season and embarks on a professional hockey career.

“It started from my summer training, pretty much. I hired a skills coach, working on my offensive side, working on my power skating, working on my hands, working on my release,” the French-Canadian Imama told me recently. “The Saint John coach (Danny Flynn) has given me more responsibilities, putting me on the power play, putting me in different places. I’m doing great going to the net, putting puck on net.”

Lightning officials were impressed with what they saw of Imama offensively at the team’s development camp in Florida June 2016. He led a camp  3-on-3 tournament with 8 goals and tied Sea Dogs teammate Joseph for overall points in the tourney with 10.

Saint John Sea Dogs forward Bokondji Imama is putting the puck in the net more and fighting less, per instructions by the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo/Saint John Sea Dogs).

Saint John Sea Dogs forward Bokondji Imama is putting the puck in the net more and fighting less, per instructions by the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo/David Connell/Saint John Sea Dogs).

Still, Tampa Bay cut Imama during September’s training camp and sent him back to Saint John, the largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. But the ‘Bolts organization gave him to-do list for his return to the Q.

“From the first day they released me from camp, it was clear: they don’t want to see me fight,  they don’t want to see me get suspended,” Imama said. “They want to see me on the ice, working on my game, scoring goals obviously, making some good plays, being an effective hockey player for my team.”

By following their prescription,  Imama says this has been his most rewarding season in the QMJHL.

He hopes that it ends with the Sea Dogs – currently in first place in the Q’s Maritimes Division – winning the President’s Cup league championship and later capturing the Memorial Cup as the top Canadian Hockey League team.

But  the 6-foot-1, 217-pound forward has no illusions about what will be expected of him in his pro career, whether it’s with Tampa Bay or its farm teams  in the American Hockey League or the ECHL.

“To be realistic, when I’m going to pro level, I’ll have to come back to myself, to be more of a grinder, more of a fighter,” he told me. “Right now, as a 20-year-old, I have the chance to play a more offensive dimension. So I’m pretty grateful and I’m having a lot of fun. But once I start playing pro, I have to get back to the old me, if I can say that.”

To that end, Imama looks to Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds and Edmonton Oilers left wing  Milan Lucic  – tough customers who are also elite goal scorers – for inspiration.

“Those kind of players, I love to watch them play,” he said. “They’re big guys, tough players, they bring  size and meanness to their team. But also, the coach will put them in different situations.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights out for the shootout in championship games?

Tags

, , , ,

There’s still an afterglow on this side of the border following the United States’ dramatic 5-4 comeback win over Canada in one of the greatest International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship gold medal games ever played.

But there’s still also a bitter taste – even among some Team USA  fans – that such a thrilling, entertaining, dramatic, and excellently-played championship game was decided by a five-round shootout after an overtime session.

 

From 1980 U.S. hockey Miracle on Ice Gold Medal Olympian Mike Eruzione to newly-forged hockey fan Tony X  deciding a championship game with a duel between a shooter and a goaltender was about as satisfying as the final episodes of “The Sopranos,” HBO’s “The Night Of,” or the Bobby Ewing dream sequence on “Dallas” in the 1980s.

Of course, some folks say that complaints about Thursday night’s shootout are merely sour grapes from fans who didn’t like the outcome of the game.

I have mixed feelings about shootouts. I don’t think any championship in any sport should be decided by any sort of shootout.

Can you imagine the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Caveliers deciding an NBA championship series on free throw or three-point shootouts?  Or a deadlocked Super Bowl being settled by a field goal kickers duel from 50-yards out?  Or a tied World Series baseball game being won or loss in a home run derby after the traditional nine innings?

Still, I understand the excitement that hockey shootouts can produce. I was at the U.S.-Russia game at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie scored four shootout goals in an unbelievable, pressure-filled exhibition of skill.

The National Hockey League started using the shootout for regular season games in the 2005-06. But the league doesn’t use it for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The IIHF has used the shootout to decide deadlocked world championship and Olympic games since 1992.

What do you think? Should the shootout stay or go in championship games?