The Penguins lost yesterday. Normally, this would mean a great deal of rejoicing in the Hunter household; however; their opponent was the Rangers. I hate the Rangers with the fire of a thousand suns on a regular basis, as has been well documented. As the Flyers head toward the Olympic break, they are battling the Rags for a playoff spot, so this this game had me rooting against the Rags with JUST a tad more enthusiasm.
After 60 minutes, the Pens and Rags were tied 2-2. In the good old days, that would have been the end of things; each team would have taken a point and gone on about their business. Enter Gary Bettman, a clown unlike any other, with his carnival barker "Every game's a winner!!!" philosophy. The shoot out, a one on the goalie skills competition, was added because Bettman felt that the new fans he coveted would not like or understand ties. Seriously? If you don't appreciate or understand that two teams can fight for 60 minutes, punch and counter, and end in a draw, maybe hockey just isn't the game for you.
Bettman also removed, for all intents and purposes, the center ice red line. There was a time, boys and girls, when the red line was more that just decoration. Who else remembers the two lines offside pass? Yes, stretch passes are pretty and all, but I miss that game, when players had to work just a little harder to gain the offensive zone. Would Sid the Kid be as effective if this change had not been made? Is the game more exciting now? Perhaps...but again, if you need speed, speed, speed and consistent high scoring games, perhaps the NHL isn't the league for you. For me, a hard hitting, 2-1 defensive minded game is a thing of beauty.
All of Bettman's additions watered down a storied, tradition filled league. Yes, the NHL is making record profits, but at what cost? There are rumors that the shoot out is on the chopping block; I for one hope that I am some day writing a blog about the horrible shoot out of the past.