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Is Stanley Cup Overtime in Danger?

From Stu Hackel over at Slapshot:

The Ducks-Red Wings game, settled early in the third overtime period on Todd Marchant’s goal, won’t go down in history as a Stanley Cup playoff classic. But it did raise a discussion on Montreal radio’s Morning Show over the Team 990 about long OT’s.

Co-host Shaun Starr, who is a huge hockey fan (he spoke later in the show about looking forward to watching this afternoon’s Canada-Finland qualifying-round game in the I.I.H.F. World Championship tourney), confessed during a segment with TSN’s Bob McKenzie that he had trouble staying with the game, that he’d get up walk around his house and then return to the game and say to himself, “This game is still on?”

That sparked McKenzie to relate something we’d never heard before, that the N.H.L.’s Competition Committee was apparently one vote away “in the last year or so” from recommending a change in Stanley Cup play. This change would have had the teams go to four-on-four hockey after the first overtime period.

In fact, the proposal, which McKenzie said was strongly supported by Brendan Shanahan, got a majority of the votes in the committee but needed more than a majority to pass and fell one vote short of the number needed to come out of the committee.

For complete story click here.

This is unbelievable news.  Shocking really!  I cannot imagine something more iconic within hockey than playoff overtime.  Why eliminate what is likely the best part about the playoffs?  Perhaps we should just go and add a shootout to the playoff games. 

I’m not someone who is totally against change.  If the game calls for it (i.e. elimination of the 2 line pass rule) then I am all for it.  But some things are just too sacred to mess with.

I mean Overtime is one of the most memorable experiences that people often talk about years later.

Courtesy of Jamie Fitzpatrick at About.com here are some of the longest playoff games the NHL has most recently played:

May 4, 2000: 92:01 of overtime
Philadelphia Flyers 2 – Pittsburgh Penguins 1
In the 5th overtime period, Keith Primeau’s goal ties the second-round series at two games apiece. The Flyers win the next two games, but blow a 3-1 series lead to New Jersey and lose the Eastern Conference Final.

April 24, 2003: 80:48 of overtime
Anaheim Ducks 4 – Dallas Stars 3
Petr Sykora scores less than a minute into the 5th overtime period, and the Ducks win Game One of the second round series. Anaheim goes all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to New Jersey.

April 24, 1996: 79:15
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 – Washington Capitals 2
Petr Nedved’s goal in the 4th overtime ties the opening round series at two games each. Pittsburgh will win the series and eventually lose to Florida in the Eastern Conference Final.

April 11, 2007: 78:06
Vancouver Canucks 5 – Dallas Stars 4
The Canucks open the playoffs with a win, courtesy of Henrik Sedin’s goal in the 4th overtime period. Vancouver will prevail in a seven-game series, and be eliminated in the second round by the eventual champions from Anaheim.

May 4, 2008: 69:03
Dallas Stars 2 – San Jose Sharks 1
In the 4th overtime period, Brenden Morrow’s clinches game six for the Stars, eliminating San Jose and sending Dallas to the Western Conference Final.

Personally a few games will always stand out to me;

I was at Game 6 in the 2004 playoffs in Calgary when a shot by Tim Taylor which had been re-directed by Brad Richards was tapped in by Martin St. Louis early in the 2nd OT frame.  Of course this disregards the ‘phantom goal‘ scored by Martin Gelinas in the 3rd period which for some reason was never reviewed on the ice.

I was out at the lake with about 20 guys watching Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals (Buffalo/Dallas) when in triple OT Brett Hull scored his controversial goal giving the Stars their first ever Championship.  Now perhaps that game was memorable because every guy in the room had put a little $$$ in the pot and everyone took a player but I like to think it was the excitement of watching 3 overtimes for the chance to win the Stanley Cup.

I couldn’t imagine what would be the rationale behind this move?  Perhaps its motivated to ensure that games don’t drag on for hours and cost television stations advertising revenue.  In fact later in Stu’s article (and as Kyle reported in his Afternoon Delight) Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy thinks;

Doing something about long OT’s is a good idea, mostly because, it seems, he also wants the N.H.L. to make its U.S. TV partners happy.

When will the NHL stop chasing the phantom US television deal?  (cue the Drew Mindell rant).  Is it really worth destroying the product on the basis that there is a chance you could somehow increase revenue?  Whatever the motivation is, speaking from a fan’s point of view, I cannot possibly understand the justification for it. 

Leave OT alone.

What do you think about this proposal?  As always, comments are always welcome to add to the discussion.

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Thanks very much for joining us on our 14th anniversary edition of the Illegal Curve Hockey Show.

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