The original concept of the shootout was sound: Take a dull, predictable product and spice up the ending with a little bit of show.
Only the National Hockey League doesn't seem quite so dull or so predictable anymore.
There is no need for gimmicks in this compelling new NHL. This is hockey worth watching. This isn't a game we remember -- because so much of it is brand new. This is the rare sporting invention that actually works.
Only the shootout looks out of place. An unfamiliar ending, completely empty for the losers, coming after 65 minutes of often great hockey.
The original concept was to end tie games with something better. But the way this hockey is being played, assuming it continues, ties may be an acceptable regular-season result. More acceptable than losing in a penalty-shot contest.
THIS AND THAT
The truth can be told, it was Phoenix assistant Rick Tocchet who incorrectly filled out the Coyotes gamesheet. And it was supposed to be checked over by assistant Barry Smith. Both guys messed up. Wayne Gretzky messed up for not checking their work in the early season ... Now we know why the Leafs re-signed Alexei Ponikarovksy: Somebody has to score the ninth goal in a 9-1 win ... One look at Pat Quinn's face and you figure it was him going into the boards Friday night in Atlanta, not Darcy Tucker ... Now coaching the appropriately named Thrashers: Paul Newman ... Anybody seen Martin St. Louis, MVP? Anybody? ... As a new subscriber to the full NHL Centre Ice package, I now comprehend why Americans don't watch hockey on television, aside from the fact they hate the sport. The broadcasts, for the most part, are terrible ... Ryan Miller is playing so well in goal for the Buffalo Sabres that it's not a stretch to suggest he'll be the U.S. Olympic goaltender in February ... The next move for John Ferguson Jr. should be to lock up Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle with long-term contracts. They way they're playing, the time to get them signed is now.
HEAR AND THERE
Only in the CFL can Mark McLoughlin go from player to team president of the Stampeders, back to Calgary kicker, to retired, to kicking today for the B.C. Lions, while maintaining his position as vice-president of Olds College ... So who gets fired first? Joe Paopao or Greg Marshall? ... The Minnesota Vikings are in trouble again. Somewhere Tommy (DUI) Kramer has to be smiling ... And all this comes after getting rid of Randy Moss ... The New Orleans Saints would have sold more tickets at a higher price playing at the undersized Rogers Centre than they will this weekend playing in San Antonio. Toronto made the offer: The NFL declined ... This is how long it has been since the White Sox won the World Series: When the Sox won in 1917, Robert Borden was prime minister of Canada ... Not a word from Joe Torre since the Yankees were eliminated. Not a press conference. Not like him ... Canadian Larry Walker, who needs cortisone shots just to remain active, actually is hinting he may play another big league season. The man must love pain.
SCENE AND HEARD
I see where NHL players are being asked to vote on whether visors should be mandatory for players. In the past, the most complicated decision most players had to come to grips with was window or aisle? ... True story: An NHL player once asked me, "What's a mortgage?" ... Have to believe Barry Bonds will be the designated hitter for the Yankees next season ... Never mind that the umpire, Doug Eddings, blew the call, asserts Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, but what was Angels manager Mike Scioscia doing with his third-string catcher playing in the ninth inning of a playoff game? ... A tentative Blue Jays schedule is out for next season. Their final eight games are against the Red Sox and the Yankees ... Another Yankees note: The team invested $46.5 million US in pitchers who were either released, traded or unable to pitch in the post-season. That, for the record, is almost $1 million more than the entire Jays payroll.
AND ANOTHER THING
Whenever Jalen Rose talks about Jalen Rose he always refers to Jalen Rose as Jalen Rose. Just in case we didn't know ... My all-time favourite Raptor is again out of work: Mengke Bateer has been released by the Cleveland Cavaliers ... This is new: Nik Antropov was cut Friday night by his visor rather than protected by it. This is what happens when you don't strap up your helmet properly ... I don't know why but I find it impossible to warmup to the Houston Astros ... Sidney Crosby gets all the covers, Alexander Ovechkin scores the highlight film goals but somebody named Marek Svatos has seven goals in his first seven regular-season games with the Colorado Avalanche ... There is no tradition in the Leafs using the Marlies name for little more than the marketing of overpriced American Hockey League tickets. The Marlies are in our memories. They are Bruce Boudreau and Paulin Bordeleau and Jim McKenny and Steve Durbano. It just doesn't seem right to cash in on an old name for a new team ... Sunday debate: Is Miika Kiprusoff another of those one-year wonder goaltenders? ...You can make a case that Dominik Hasek is the most unique athlete in professional sports history. Never has a player performed so unconventionally at such a high level ... And hey, whatever became of Warren Young?