The NHL is awesome. Full disclosure: I am a bit of a hockey enthusiast! However, there are some things that just make you so mad you have to write a completely negative article about them, so, preamble over. Here’s a list of things about the NHL I don’t like.
1. Games Worth Different Numbers of Points/ Points for Losing
3 point games are ridiculous, and 2 point games are preferable, but the NHL needs to pick one and go with it. It is so minor-league to have games worth different amounts and it skews the standings in all sorts of ways. Giving out loser points is even worse. I am happy there are no ties, but at least points rewarded for ties made logical sense. With the way things currently are, most teams have the appearance of a good record, .500 is meaningless, and teams can make the playoffs with less wins than teams that don’t just because they were able make it to over-time a bunch.
2. The False Logic About Making it to Over-Time
I can hear you saying, “But Jim, the Shoot-Out is a coin-flip and so if you make it to OT, you deserve something.” Well, I would agree with that, except, have you ever seen the last five or ten minutes of a tied regular season game? It’s excruciating. Both teams just want the point so badly that they shut it down and make sure they get their point.There is not much worse (about hockey) than watching teams play a no-risk style.
3. Calling Nashville Smashville
Whether it’s my anti-Movember stance or my antipathy towards celebrity, my five dollar aviator sun-glasses or my disgust at the use of catch-phrases, I am often accused of being too-cool-for-stuff…..and it’s true, I am an insufferable hater of societal minutia, and you can add my hatred of when people call Nashville “Smashville” to the list of things I am just too cool for.
4. People Who Hate the Trapazoid
Come on guys, you know it barely affects play at all.
5. The Fact You can’t Hit a Goalie
If he leaves his crease, he should be just another player.
6. The Lack of Bench Clearing Brawls
Call me a Neanderthal, but I love a good 5 on 5 rumble.
7. The Instigator Penalty
Few rule changes have had a worse effect on the game. Only politics prevents the NHL from dropping this rule that is unanimously hated.
8. Hating on Bettman.
You know Gary Bettman is perhaps the best commissioner this side of Vince McMahon, so cut him some slack – his accomplishments are frankly astounding and he deserves a little respect, though I do concede that he is a total fat-cat, and if you know me, you know I don’t like fat-cats any more than I like Yuppies. Which, speaking of…
9. Yuppies in the Front Row
If you aren’t going to cheer like a normal human being, give your tickets to someone who deserves them. Nothing worse than seeing some suit on the phone during the game. And you know what? Just in general, no phones in the arena, no exceptions.
I don’t hate the shoot-out, I just hate how many of them there are. Since the result of a shoot-out is almost totally random, I think OT should be ten minutes long and go to 3 on 3 after the first five minutes.
11. The Wild Card System
It’s really dumb. It makes for terrible match-ups. In an attempt to compensate for relative divisional strength, the NHL has gone too far the other way. Now teams that rank 3rd in one division can make the playoffs over teams that miss the playoffs (potentially at least) and I just don’t think any division is so weak or strong that this much manipulation is worth it. I think teams should be ranked 1 to 16 and seeded accordingly. That way there will be no more Chicago/St.Louis or San Jose/LA first-round match-ups, which completely sabotage the value of playing an 82 game regular season.
12. Ex-Players as TV Analysts
It’s become apparent from their refusal to move beyond talking about plus/minus and low-frequency/high-profile events that ex-players do not have the analytical skills to break-down the game. Now, I am not saying that there shouldn’t be any ex-players, because they played the game at the highest level and can provide a unique insight, just that it shouldn’t be ALL ex-players. The networks should seek out some smart people who maybe are just good at breaking down and analyzing information and put them into the mix. I am not saying me, don’t get me wrong. I am just saying that the intermission stuff could be a bit more progressive.
13. The Way TV Talks About Advanced Stats
Every time they mention something about them, they add in all these qualifiers and dumb jokes. You would think that someone was asking them to explain complex mathematical formulas, rather than what are very simple to understand ideas that can absolutely revolutionize the way you see and understand the game.
14. The Worst One: The Way We Micro-Judge Every Play and Mistake
I really wish we could get past this. Twitter is great for hockey. Having every game on TV is too. BUT, we have step back from this instant analysis, micro analyzation that leads to blaming someone for every goal. The fact is, virtually all NHL games end 3-2, on average, and that means that your team will allow 2 goals per game, no matter what. Occasionally, a game is mistake free and those end up 1-0, or 2-1. But those are the exceptions. Hockey is a fast game, Have you ever tried to sprint all-out for 45 seconds? then sit down for 3 minutes and then go all-out again for 45 seconds? Even if you’re a professional athlete, it’s physically and mentally taxing.Add in the games high-speed and the fact it’s basically a cage match played on ice, and it’s a wonder there aren’t more mistakes made. Furthermore, the only way to score enough to win regularly is to take risks. Add in a cultural bias towards defense and ‘old-time’ hockey, and you have a recipe for terrible analysis.
Every game it’s a sub-game of ‘blame the guy who caused the goal.’ It gets tedious. Especially when people are focusing on one single play and don’t properly put it into perspective with the rest of the game. By the time the game is over, if Jake Gardiner lost his man in the corner and that man walked out unattended and scored an easy goal, you would have seen it ten times, maybe more. The Glen Healys would talk about it constantly, never the once pointing out to the viewing audience that the opposing team had to eventually score, that Gardiner drove the play all night and that the Leafs were statistically superior when he was on the ice. This in turn leads to him getting a rep for being terrible in his own zone that is as annoying as it is false, as well as a refusal by people to acknowledge the other much more important and positive facets of his game.
Anyways, that’s all that’s bugging me today. Thanks for your patience, and let me know what bugs you in the comments section.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.