On shootists and goofy analysts

Steven Ovadia, a much more accomplished blogger than I, made an interesting point worth responding to:

"You're really going to see hockey turn into baseball, with really specialized roles for players. I guarantee there will be a team with one guy whose only role is to shoot in the shootout."

So shootout specialists (dubbed "shootists" by some other guy) may start to appear on NHL rosters. Is that really so bad? In fact, the possible introduction of these players is one of the few good things about shootouts.

The skills emphasized by the shootout are stickhandling and shooting. If guys with these skills (and presumably a lack of size, checking or skating) crowd out the goons and other roster bottom-feeders, the game will be better for it. We'll be replacing low-risk, low-reward skaters with high-risk, high-reward types. If these players get icetime, we'll see more goals. If they see less icetime than the grinders they replace, the top-nine forwards will have to take up the slack and they will become more fatigued which will lead to more goals.

I love hard-fought draws and well-played defense as much as the next guy. I just can't stand "first goal wins" hockey. The team scoring first won all seven games of the Stanley Cup Finals in '04. Lead changes are fun. A glimmer of hope for a team down by a goal or two going into the third is fun. Having "shootists" on the roster is a step in this direction.

Finally, if shootouts were implemented 5-10 years ago, maybe we wouldn't have missed out on so many years of Martin St. Louis in his prime. Maybe a guy like Corey Locke will have an easier time breaking into the league. Something's not right when a CHL player of the year and two-time OHL player of the year is considered a long shot to make the NHL.

Mr. Ovadia also mentions ESPN re-signing Barry Melrose:

"That network's love of Melrose always kind of defined the reason hockey didn't totally work on ESPN. It's almost like they saw hockey as something goofy — all mullets and silly suits — rather than a serious sport... it sure didn't help having a caricature be the sport's face on a major sports network."

Yeah. I'm sure glad there are no silly caricatures on the face of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.


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