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Hawk Talk: OT or Not OT

by Jesse Rogers / Chicago Blackhawks

For some reason, I've soured on almost everything overtime related.

I like the 4-on-4 play, but that's it. The 'three-point game' is most annoying. I know it has kept a lot of teams in the race, but in my mind it has diluted the perception of the product. And I've turned toward the purists when it comes to the shootout. It's an arbitrary way to determine a winner.

On the radio a few weeks ago I asked listeners if they liked the OT as it is currently constituted, or if they would prefer another method. By a slight percentage people preferred the way it is over a couple of other choices. But I remain unconvinced.

I know the crowd gets to its feet when the shootout begins, but it's not as climactic as first imagined. In fact, I believe it's the opposite, and I think the reason is that the 4-on-4 OT period is more exciting. I'm for expanding that to ten minutes. And if no one scores after ten, then we can go to a shootout... or... a TIE!

I prefer a tie. First off, it eliminates the three-point game, and doing a shootout AFTER 10 minutes of OT would prolong the game back to the three hour days. The NHL has done a nice job of keeping the games right around 2:30 (or under).

Now, I don't like 'kissing my sister' anymore than you do, but I don't think there'd be that many ties. 4-on-4 for ten minutes will be exciting, produce more power plays, and test the stamina of both the skaters and goaltenders. The goals will come.

As of this writing, if you can believe it, only 67 out of 165 games (that have gone to OT) have been decided in the overtime period. That's 98 games so far that have been determined by the shootout 'gimmick'. That's too many.

Add a lousy five minutes (no commercial or extra timeout breaks) and we can assume to double that number from 67 to more like 134. I think the number would be even higher because as that period moved along there'd be more power plays called due to fatigue and maybe even more softies allowed for the same reason.

Even if we stick with 134 out of 165, that's only 31 games that would be called a tie. Divide that by 30 teams, and what do you know, at this point in the season teams would be averaging one tie. Big deal.

Now, I know there are some of you out there are wondering why we should play 4-on-4 in OT if hockey is a 5-on-5 game. If we're going to be pure, then let's be pure. That's fine if you have no problem with a lot of ties, because, as we know from the past, that's what you're going to get.

Plus, 4-on-4 hockey isn't a gimmick like the shootout. It can happen in the course of the game when there are penalties on both sides, for example. I realize penalty shots are part of the game too, but that's for one person on a rare occasion.

The bottom line is that deciding a game 4-on-4 is a hundred times closer to a 'real' finish than the shootout.

All it takes is 5 more minutes. No more. No less.

Email pre- and post-game radio host Jesse Rogers at: Listen to "Inside the Hawks" with Jesse and special Hawk guests Thursdays from 8-9 pm on WSCR 670-AM.

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