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CHAD: NHL has its problems

Devils goalie Cory Schneider reacts after giving up goal Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly during shootout Thursday Denver. | David Zalubowski/AP

Devils goalie Cory Schneider reacts after giving up a goal to Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly during a shootout Thursday in Denver. | David Zalubowski/AP

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Updated: January 18, 2014 12:02PM



I already have broken the only New Year’s resolution I made: Respect the NHL. Heck, I broke it less than 24 hours into the New Year while watching the Winter Classic go to a shootout.

Shootout? What is this, an arcade game?

OK, let’s review all the aspects of the NHL I cannot abide:

◆ The fighting, which I will not discuss any further today because, well, I’m not in a
fighting mood.

◆ The nearly year-round schedule, which I also will not discuss today because, well, life’s too short to complain about hockey taking up too much of our calendar.

◆ The two intermissions per game, which I have complained about before and will complain about again today.

◆ The point system, which rewards teams for losing in overtime.

Before we get to any of that — and I’m already dealing with social-media yapping about my anti-NHL bias a mere 125 words into this column — let me point out that I saw a photo on Deadspin capturing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dozing off during the Capitals-Blackhawks game on opening night.

Uh, if the commissioner himself can’t keep his eyes open on site while watching the defending Stanley Cup champions, what
are our chances of staying awake at home?

I’ll give Bettman the benefit of the doubt and assume he fell asleep during one of the intermissions. Fans sitting nearby probably thought it would be rude to awaken a napping power player.

(Column intermission I: Odds I will be watching the first Pro Bowl draft Wednesday on NFL Network: 1 in 7.2 trillion. Odds the world will explode because of draft hot air Wednesday on NFL Network: 1 in 7,200.)

Two intermissions? That’s one too many. Everything in sports already takes too long. The NHL needs to shift from three 20-minute periods to two 30-minute halves.

Who among us doesn’t prefer two acts to three acts? Spike Lee always has third-act problems. He doesn’t know how to end his movies (see ‘‘Jungle Fever’’).

Tragically, Shakespeare plays were five acts. Five acts! Some, I believe — ‘‘King Lear,’’ for example — were five acts and a shootout. Trust me, there often was a beeline for the exits after the second or third act of ‘‘The Taming of the Shrew’’ and ‘‘Hamlet.’’

(Column intermission II: Springbrook High boys basketball is now 9-1 in what might be a title-season-in-progress. Here are the principals: the sublime Robinson twins, Andrew and Aaron; point guard Tavon Ngangum; East Carolina-bound-on-a-football-scholarship Alex Evans; and, of course, Stepson of Destiny Isaiah Eisendorf, joined by super-sub Jermaine Ukaegbu. The coach is sage Tom Crowell, a two-time Mid-Atlantic Curmudgeon of the Year.)

(P.S. I know some of you are thinking: If the NHL shouldn’t have two intermissions, how come you can have two? My column, my rules. Plus, my intermissions take maybe 10 seconds.)

The NHL used to award teams two points for a victory and one point for a tie. They eliminated ties in 2005, and now it’s two points for a victory, one point for an overtime/shootout loss and no points for a loss in regulation. Theoretically, you could lose all 82 games in overtime, make the playoffs with 82 points and capture the Stanley Cup after going winless during the regular season.

Folks, I don’t care if you lose 9-0 or 1-0 or in a shootout or by court order, you shouldn’t be rewarded for the quality of the defeat. What is this, the BCS? All wins are wins and all losses are losses — I believe Archimedes first said this — and we shouldn’t be weighing results on some kind of a sliding scale.

But if you’re going to do it that way, I have run a complex metric through my abacus and determined that teams should get 2.75 points for a victory in regulation, 2.33 points for an overtime victory, 0.92 points for an overtime loss on the road and 0.78 points for an overtime loss
at home.

All this two-intermission and overtime stuff reminds me of the reason I love air hockey: There’s a time limit. You pay your 50 cents, and you have a winner three minutes later. And if there’s a tie, you just live with it. NO SHOOTOUTS.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Starting to tire of the ‘‘not in our house’’ spiel by home-team players before every game. Was wondering if you ever heard that speech from current or former wives? (Bob Whitson, Greenwood, Ind.)A.

You’ve assumed, somewhat incorrectly, that any of my current or former wives ever spoke to me.

Q. Looking at Andrew Bynum’s body of work, can you explain the fact that eight NBA teams contacted the never-ready-to-play center after he was cut by the Bulls last week? (Dana Byrne, Houston)A.

Keanu Reeves still gets acting work, no?

Q. Here’s a layup for you, Slouch: How do you view sportswriter Dan Le Batard giving away his Baseball Hall of Fame vote to an eight-letter Web site? (Dave Erickson, Charleston, W.Va.)A.

Highly questionable.

Q. Did the Rooney Rule require that the Redskins interview at least one Native American for their head-coaching position? (Neil Shawen, Falls Church, Va.)A.

Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com. If your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



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