Monday, March 10, 2008


It doesn't seem sporting to be against a once-a-decade phenomenon like having two hockey teams declared co-state champions after being deadlocked 1-1 after eight overtimes. Evidently, no one was meant to win.

Images like the Detroit Free Press photo of both teams in the Michigan state final, Marquette and Orchard Lake St. Mary's, gathered at centre ice for the traditional post-championship group photo, come way too close to pure sport to have any place in Gary Bettman's world. Eight overtimes? Go to a shootout, go to 4-4, have the players' moms do a chuck-a-puck, do something -- we can't expect our fans to have to wrap their minds around a tie!

The kids had played 109 minutes (what is that -- three 15-minute periods in regulation and eight-minute overtimes?). Player safety was probably becoming a concern.
"It's unthought of," Marquette goalie Jon Nezich said. "Both teams deserved it. Both teams worked so hard."

It kind of works as an existential burn on Bettman. It's been said you could show someone the tape of an entire hockey game without the goals and they'd be hard-pressed to figure out who won. Seemingly half the games in the NHL these would have been ties in the era before 4-on-4 overtime and the shootout. The kids in Michigan kept it real.

Take last Friday, when all five games in the NHL were either 2-1 or 3-2 and all but one went to overtime or a shootout (admittedly, that's a random example). After a while, this is sort of entertaining the same way that picking up Subway on the way in to work is sort of healthy. It's not terrible for you, but it's not terribly great.

For a Canadian, reading about an eight-overtime game and a shared state title is a rush. There's chance something similar could happen here, but it's not on your mind as much now that every league of consequence has copied the NHL's tie-breaking format in the regular season instead of thinking for themselves.

(Thanks to Michael Rand from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for sending along the link.)

Eight overtimes, two champions (Detroit Free Press; via Randball)


Anonymous said...

In my opinion this is a reflection of American society where we must be sure all competitors "feel good about themselves". It is ridiculous that a Championship be decided this way. This was not a routine NHL game and I think the analogy is weak. Two teams enter this State championship knowing full well the rules require playing to a winner in sudden death. Conditioning, player management during the game, and hydration during the game are all strategies to be managed by the coach in case of such a situation. There were opportunities for rest and hydration during the resurfacing that occurred periodically.

sager said...

You want to share your theories about hydration, go join a running club.

Keep it in perspective. Does the actions of 40 players and coaches really, honestly, reflect on a society of 300 million people, many of whom have never seen a hockey game?

The analogy was about enjoying hockey as a fan. It's a kick hear about eight OTs after watching so many NHL games where neither team deserved to win, but someone did in 4-on-4 or shootout. That's the comparison, no more, no less.

The fans who were there got entertained, the players gave it their all and everyone saw something they won't soon forget.. that cuts to what sports is all about more than "hydration."

New reality said...

As a fellow sportswriter (and yes, I saw the other "special" post but that's a different comment) and a hockey official, I would find this story a peach to write - even in hockey mad northern Alberta. Too bad it would never happen here.
The reasons - first, the rabid "my novice kid is going to the NHL" parents would kill the executive who did it, pay the rink attendant to flood the ice and force the kids to go back out and play;
second, the majority of coaches (yes, there are still a few non-idiots out there) would be saying "but you can't have a tie in baseball???" (opps, did I just say that??)
third, a lot of kids at any level higher than novice (and even that's a stretch around here) are taught that winning is everything and that anything less than almost killing the opposition means you are weak;
and lastly, despite all of the work on the "fair play initiative" or the "respect the game" program or even the new philosophy of Hockey Canada toward instructing coaches to not be so much of "a winning at all cost" attitude - - it's still an old boys network in a lot of areas to go along with that "must win" atmosphere in the rink
All of these reasons were in effect this past weekend in these here parts at the Atom AA provincials - where they even announced that the sportsmanship award included the conduct of the parents and fans - - too bad though...turns out they didn't even hand out the award....
i say good on Michigan....but there's still no ties in baseball???