Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 04/08/07 at 03:04 PM ET
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
The guaranteed-point, four-on-four overtime was introduced by the NHL in 1999-2000 to give teams an incentive to open up and go after victories in the extra five minutes of play. It was meant to provide a reward to fans who more often than not were sitting through 60 minutes of clutch-and-grab hockey sanctioned by the league so expansion and low-payroll operations could compete with high-payroll, marquee clubs.
The concept (Gary Bettman’s, by the way) was a good one within the league’s warped lowest-common-denominator environment. Overtimes did provide singular, sometimes breathtaking, entertainment. Coaches often used three forwards and an offense-minded defenseman in non-conference games. The extra five minutes (or less) often were a treat for the players and for the fans.
But the implementation of both the new officiating standards and the shootout has made the concept obsolete. Four-on-four is now generally a bore. Coaches approach overtime playing not to lose rather than to win. They’d just as soon get the game to a shootout. Defensively suspect players don’t get on the ice. For example, Petr Prucha might do wonders with the additional space created by four-on-four, but the sophomore sniper got a total of two shifts - two! - in the Rangers’ 22 overtime periods.
Brooks has a point: if teams can’t win outright in the first 1:30-2:00 of overtime, they tend to shut down their offence and play a four-man trap. What one does to rectify the situation depends on who you ask. Brooks is for a 2-1-0 system; I’m all for the three-point win. What do you think?
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