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Should going to the box mean losing the game?
by Howard Fienberg, Correspondent
A youth hockey organization in British Columbia has come up with an innovative way to repeal the rule that "nice guys finish last." But it has as much use in the NHL as renaming the Southeast Division the "bad teams finish with a third seed in the playoffs" Division.
It's pretty neat. It's called the sportsmanship point system. Each team that finishes a match below a certain number of penalty minutes gets an extra point, counting the same as a goal, which can tie or decide a game.
Junior A, B and C level hockey, according to anecdotal evidence, is supposed to be a lot cleaner since the introduction of the rules. What do the statistics show? Unfortunately, that doesn't really matter.
Which brings us to the Christian Science Monitor's suggestion that this rule has a lot of merit for professional hockey (i.e., the NHL). In "A way to end hockey fights" (Jan 28), staff writer Ruth Walker implies the wonder of this system.
But the problem remains the same as it has always been: penalties awarded are wholly subjective, and insipidly inconsistent. Penalty minutes are at the whim of referees who insist on "balancing" their calls - they feel guilty calling too many penalties on one team, so they whip back with equalizer calls on the other. Not because they are deserved, or anything like that.
In essence, penalty minute statistics do not denote much at all. And with the NHL's lackadaisical approach to calling penalties, the most skilled divers will win games. The team with Greg Louganis up front rather than Keith Tkachuk suddenly seems a contender.
Capital's Marketing Machine Dropping the Bag
General orthodoxy in sports television marketing runs along these lines: televise the away games, not the home ones. Someone forgot to mention this to the esteemed Capitals' marketing squad and the think-tank at HTS. Why do they insist on flying in the face of this most basic logic?! Space goats from Saturn have been seen circling their offices this week.
Let's face it, who wants to go to the MCI Center to watch their team get steamrollered for the gazillionth time? At least we don't need to wear paper bags on our heads in front of our own television sets.