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Why Hockey Is Illegitimate
Why Not?
Eugene Karlik
| October 23, 2008
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First confessionóIím not a hockey fan, so Iím not exactly objective. Second confessionóI watched some of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and enjoyed some of it. Game 5 of the finals in particular stands out as a memorable one. Still, when I watch hockey, I always have this feeling; itís like Iíve been gypped. Hockey lacks legitimacy. Hereís why: Imagine going to an NBA game, or even watching one on TV. Itís a playoff game, so it is extremely meaningful. Letís say the Los Angeles Lakers are playing. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant. Heís probably the best player in the world. So you go to the game and you expect to see Kobe carry the Cavs. You want to see him in crunch time, battling and doing the improbable. But imagine that instead of Kobe doing all that, instead of playing 45 minutes and scoring 40 points, he plays only 20 minutes out of the 48. To make it worse, scrubs like Chris Mihm and Josh Powell play as many minutes as him. Heck, Coby Karl plays nearly as many minutes as Kobe Bryant. Would basketball interest anyone if this was the way it worked? Of course not. But this exactly how hockey works. Even the best players in the NHL will only play about a third of matches. More egregiously, they donít even play in the clutch moments. For example, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which I enjoyed, the Penguins were down 1 goal, facing elimination, with time running out. They have the best player in the world, Sydney Crosby. Yet with 5 minutes left and his team chasing a goal, the guy was on the bench being rotated. Instead, some scrubs with names like Rustu were out there. What on earth? Could you imagine Kobe allowing himself to be taken out of a NBA finals game late in the 4th quarter with elimination on the line? Now, of course, thereís the excuse that hockey is fatiguing and itís hard to play more than 20-25 minutes, but thatís just an excuse. If you canít have the best players out there for a majority of the match, why play for 60 minutes. Have a 40 minute game, like in college basketball. The other excuse might be that hockey is a team sport, and itís not about the superstars. But that doesnít really fly either. The different lines that are paraded on the ice donít really need to have any chemistry with each other, so the only relation they have to teamwork is that the same guy writes their paychecks. As long as scrubs continue to see comparable time on the ice to stars, and continue taking time away from the stars in crunch time, hockey will not be an entirely legitimate sport. Thatís what I have to say.
Originally Aired: Thursday, October 23, 2008. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
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