With the Flyers in the midst of a club record four consecutive games decided by shootout, you may have noticed that I've aired a few of my grievances with the NHL's
method for breaking tied games. However, we recognize that many people
do enjoy a shootout, and even more despise a game ending in a tie. Last
April, I met Flyers play-by-play announcer Jim Jackson
on the field at Citizens Bank Park before the Phillies were to host
the Nationals in their 2010 home opener. The night before, the Flyers
had clinched a playoff spot after beating the Rangers in a shootout,
and I couldn't help but ask him what it was like to call that game. I
was glued to his every word about calling the clinching save by Brian
Boucher, as well as how much he enjoys the shootout's place in hockey.
So today, we have asked JJ to share why he loves the shootout. These
are his words. --Matt P.
THUMBS UP FOR THE SHOOTOUT
By Jim Jackson
Ahhh, the shootout. It’s been
around now for nearly six full NHL seasons, and still, its mere mention
can stir the most intense argument. It has become to hockey what the
designated hitter has been to baseball for so many years—an absolute hot
Count me in support of shootouts. The most basic reason for this is
because evidence suggests, despite all of the debate on the subject,
that fans, in general, like it. What evidence you say? For one,
observations at rinks during shootouts. I have yet to witness one where
fans aren’t standing and fully engrossed in the one-on-one competition
between shooter and goalie.
More evidence? Take a look at television ratings. There is almost
always a significant spike in viewership when a game goes to the
shootout. It seems even the marginal hockey fans are attracted to them.
In addition, shootouts make for great video clips on all the sports
shows at the end of the night in local markets as well as nationally,
which gives our sport more exposure.
Yes, it seems, the shootout generates plenty of interest. Yet, there
are the sometimes boisterous detractors. The most common complaint I
hear is that it’s a gimmick and not really part of the game. Thus, it
shouldn’t decide the winner of a hotly contested battle between two
I don’t buy it. The basic object of hockey is for a shooter to beat a
goalie. Yes, when at full strength, teamwork and pretty passing plays
are things of beauty. But in the end, it’s about a player getting the
puck past a goaltender. In the shootout, it’s one-on-one for everyone to
see. How much more of a “hockey play” is a shot that deflects of a
player’s backside in front of the net than a brilliant move by a player
going in on a breakaway?
Having said that, I enjoy overtime hockey as much as the next person.
The sudden death nature of it creates tremendous drama. If it were
feasible, allowing games to be played to their conclusion in overtime
would be great. But with travel schedules and the like, regular season
games have to be completed within a certain timeframe. A five-minute
overtime period gives teams one last chance to wrap things up in game
action. The shootout, to me, is an exciting and appropriate way to put
an exclamation point to a game after that.