I have just watched another catastrophic nightmare ending to a critically important hockey game, as Canada and Sweden went to a shootout in the IIHF World Junior Championships. Tied 5 – 5 through overtime, these two undefeated teams then subjected themselves to a skills competition, essentially a slightly more dramatic coin-flip, to decide who won the game.
Yes, I’m from Canada. Yes, the Canadians lost. That’s immaterial. I have this same reaction even when I’m watching a game where the outcome is of zero consequence to me or the teams I cheer for. The utilization of the shootout in ANY hockey game is a tragedy, and an irrefutably heinous marriage of convenience and short attention spans.
The shootout must be banned from any and every league and tournament across the entire spectrum of hockey, from the tiniest Mite house league up to Juniors, College, minor leagues, as well as the NHL and Olympic Games. This must happen without further delay.
Why? One simple and indisputable reason: it is not hockey. Hockey is a game played with five skaters and a goaltender on the ice for each team, a ticking clock, referees, and a puck. Shootouts have few of those characteristics, and in removing the primary elements from the equation it no more resembles hockey than it does a tuna fish sandwich. When fans go to a HOCKEY GAME, they expect to see HOCKEY. They expect the team that they cheer for to play HOCKEY. And most importantly, they want the decision of which team wins or loses to be determined exclusively by the outcome of a game of HOCKEY. It is becoming evident that actions must be taken to ensure that this is the only way in which hockey games are played.
What can be done? Lots. Countries should lobby the IIHF and other international governing bodies to remove the shootout from any sanctioned tournaments. If they do not, they should refuse to send their teams. Fans can call their local NHL and AHL teams and complain, then put their money where their mouths are and make it clear to the teams that their refusal to attend games is exclusively because of the shootout. Colleges and universities can petition the NCAA to abandon the shootout, and fans can vote with their pocketbooks there as well. Finally, parents with kids in hockey leagues should get involved at that level and make it clear that the shootout is an unacceptable way of determining the outcome of a hockey game.
I’m dead serious about this. Football, baseball, basketball, none of them end tie games with a skills competition on any level, amateur or professional. Hockey is disgracing itself merely by considering the possibility of such nonsense; the fact that it has actually been implemented at nearly all levels of the sport — most of whom look to the NHL for guidance in implementing such things — is a loathsome and humiliating disgrace for the sport.
The shootout must go, immediately, from all levels of hockey. If the leagues won’t do it, and the teams don’t care, it’s up to the people who are passionate about the game of hockey to make their voices heard and bring this issue to the forefront.
The fact that the game of hockey is tarnishing its long and storied reputation with such an execrable and treasonous display speaks to the vile nature of those running the sport. They should be ashamed of themselves, and passionate traditionalists should strive at every turn to let them know that.
There were 14 former featherheads which took the ice last night and of the 10 skaters there was only one point which was an assist. It came from a guy some people call Big Buff who is having a career season. The three goalies in action tonight all picked up W’s including the first of the year in the return game for the goalie we beat in the Stanley Cup finals last year. Oh and David Koci is still gaining on Duncan Keith in Ice Time per game. Just a couple more seconds and he might be within 26 minutes. Enjoy
Click the jump for highlights from the 12/30/10 games
If there’s one thing this team has been able to do in recent years, it’s fight through adversity. When faced with ugly circumstances, this team has faced each challenge head-on, often coming out on top, but never going down without a fight. Remember last season, when we fell behind to Calgary 5 – 0 in the first period, but fought back to win 6 – 5 in overtime? I hope we see that kind of who-says-we-can’t attitude tonight when the Blackhawks take on the San Jose Sharks at the UC. 12 of the players from that game will be on the ice tonight.
The Sharks are coming off a loss to lowly Minnesota, which follows being shut out by Los Angeles on Monday. Offensively San Jose is an open book. Their top-six forwards, plus defenseman Dan Boyle, are scoring threats. The rest of the team are no more useful than figure skaters in hockey gear. Keep those seven guys under wraps, and the Blackhawks can win.
Hey Kiddies, I’m back! Sorry for not having the Espo out the last couple of days. My mother bought me a trip to Vegas for my 21st birthday/Christmas present. So I’ve been out winning money for the last couple of days. As for the former hawks, if you haven’t heard Daniel Cleary broke his ankle and will be out for at least four weeks, AND James Wisniewski was traded from the Islanders to the Canadians. Last night there were eight former hawks which took the ice which combined a total of five points, all assists. Hope you enjoy!
Click the jump for updates from the 12/29/10 games
Let me know if I should keep doing this or not …
Well, it’s the regular season and that means Joe Thornton may actually be visible on the ice tonight. And unless you’ve been preoccupied with your plot to murder Nick Boynton, you know that Jonathan Toews won’t be suiting up for a couple weeks.
So, before the Blackhawks take on the Sharks for the third time this season after dropping the first two at The Tank, let’s breakdown the matchup with some statistics from the recent regular season history between the two teams.
The BLACKHAWKS are …
… 20-15-3 (2nd, Central)
… 12-9-0 at home
… 6-4-1 in December
… 6-3-1 in their last 10 (Lost 1)
… 6-2-1 against the Pacific Division
… 16-7-2 when scoring first
… 16-3-1 when leading after 2nd period
The SHARKS are …
… 19-13-5 (3rd, Pacific)
… 9-8-2 on the road
… 8-5-1 in December
… 5-4-1 in their last 10 (Lost 2)
… 5-4-1 against the Central Division
… 13-2-3 when scoring first
… 15-2-2 when leading after 2nd period
POWER PLAY: Blackhawks, 24.6% (1st) ; Sharks, 23.1% (6th)
PENALTY KILL: Blackhawks 79.0% (26th) ; Sharks 82.3% (13th)
» The Blackhawks are 0-for-20 on the power play in the last 7 vs. the Sharks
» The Sharks are 7-0-2 in their last 9 visits to the United Center
Click the jump for more STATS
NOTE: Sorry, but there won’t be any Boxing this morning. My usual box score I use through my big-boy job wasn’t accessible because of a system error and I didn’t want to use another one. Boxing will return Thursday.
Welcome back, Patrick Kane. Goodbye, Jonathan Toews.
There hasn’t been an official word as of 8:33 a.m. regarding the status of the Captain, but it’s hard to imagine having Tazer suit up Thursday after watching him go down clutching his shoulder. It pains me to say it, but I’ll stick by my stance when I mentioned last night on the Facebook fan page that Matt D’Agostini’s hit wasn’t dirty.
Unfortunately, the Toews injury has to be the story after that shitshow that was a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that dropped the ‘Hawks to eighth in the conference. When the whole squad is finally healthy and then Toews goes down, it’s starting to look like Lady Luck wants to be a fucking bitch this season.
Marty Turco’s performance in net is the only goddamn reason the Blackhawks didn’t lose 10-1. I don’t know what it is about the ‘Hawks, but when No. 30 gets between the pipes they forget how to play hockey. At one point, the Blues were out-shooting the ‘Hawks 25-8 and were dominating in a fashion I haven’t seen in quite some time.
Oh, and this was on a night when the Blackhawks got what we thought was a belated Christmas gift when Ty Conklin got the nod instead of Jaroslav Halak. Unreal.
During the filming of “Meet Me In St. Louis,” Judy Garland was so pissed off at the depressing lyrics to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” that she went to her director (and not long after, husband), Vincente Minelli, and told him that she wasn’t going to sing it. They changed the lyrics at her request to something less dreary, and the song endures today.
Later in life, Garland proceeded to knock boots with any and every male co-star or singing legend she came across, tried to kill herself about three hundred times, and eventually died of an overdose of barbiturates. The Jordin Tootoo of her age, apparently.
What, too soon?
The Blackhawks are about to “Meet me in Saint Loo-EEEE, Loo-EEEE”, though something tells me the organist at the Scottrade Center won’t be playing any Judy Garland songs. Though if he is, it would probably be, “Strike Up The Band.” This outing will be the meeting of two winning streaks. Something’s gotta give.
Before Corey Crawford’s bandwagon breaks an axle, I’ll get it out of the way that this post isn’t me clamoring for Marty Turco to get more starts in net. However, this is me solidifying my position when I state fans shouldn’t immediately gasp when he gets the nod.
Turco’s 26-save effort in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win against the Columbus Inappropriate Acronyms won’t earn him any Vezina votes, but I also have a strange feeling it won’t get him any more beats from the fading hearts of his naysayers. It’s unfortunate, though most likely true.
While Turco sat on his ass as Crawford won over the fanbase in a city so fond of the “backup,” he maintained his stance of being a consummate professional in every sense of the label. He’s said and done all the right things while he watched a kid outplay him and take a job he specifically came here to do and succeed at.
That may not seem valuable to those who kill themselves with each loss and resurrect with the smallest glimmer of hope. What’s lost is that Turco’s professionalism, patience and team-first attitude specifically led to his performance in net Sunday night. That, and a better defensive effort in front of him.
Keep in mind, Turco has face 107 more shots than Crawford in only three extra starts. Though Crawford has indeed played better than Turco, being outplayed isn’t so bad considering the facts.
Click the jump for more recap and Boxing with ‘Hawks/Inappropriate Acronyms
Merry Christmas, Chicago. Santa brought us some healthy wingers.
Though sniper Patrick Kane is still a few days away from returning from an ankle injury, wingers Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa have been cleared by the doctors and will be in the lineup tonight. Stalberg has been out since December 15th, when Ryan O’Byrne lived up to his pugilistic Irish stereotype and laid a hit on Stalberg worthy of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Hossa, believe it or not, is returning from an undisclosed injury resulting from his collision with Nick Boynton during a practice session in late-November. The initial prognosis of a 2 – 3 week recovery period was obviously off by a factor of at least 50%. We’ll have to talk to the team doctors about that shit.
Lots in store for todays edition. There were 13 games last night in which 24 former Hawks take the ice. There were a total of 5 points scored, 3 of them goals the other 2 assists. I am not going to make this overview long because I have some long comments in analysis. Hope you enjoy. No games on the Schedule for tonight or tomorrow so there will be no Espo tomorrow. Also I will be on vacation in Las Vegas (Hopefully) Sunday till Wednesday so Bartl will have your Espo updates next week till Wednesday. Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy this edition of The Daily Esposito.
Click the Jump for updates from the 12/23/10 Games