This is apparently Old Media VS Anything New week in the world of hockey. First it's the tired old "bloggers are stupid" rants from the hallowed halls of radio, now it's the "shootouts are stupid" rants from the newspaper columnists.
Before I go any farther, two disclaimers. 1) I don't usually post about topics that have nothing specific to do with the Colorado Avalanche, but this is worth it. 2) I'm not a huge fan of shootouts. With that out of the way...
John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal doesn't understand "the cow kick," a quick kick of the leg Sidney Crosby pioneered to fake out goalies during shootouts. It doesn't always work, but it is intended to make the goalie think a shot is being taken, when one isn't. Seems straight forward enough, right?
Not to MacKinnon. No, the cow kick and similar fake-out moves should stop being used by players during the shootout because they're not something those same players would try during regulation, with defenders crowding the ice. Apparently MacKinnon thinks they're inauthentic (as if the shootout itself isn't):
But nobody lifts the leg that way in the heat of battle. In fact, there is a whole welter of moves -- head fakes, shoulder shimmies, you name it -- no self-respecting shooter will unfurl when there are actual checkers out there.
Except that there aren't any checkers out there during a shootout. Which is when the moves are used. I think I'm missing something here.
Some of these other moves -- and Marek Malik's now-legendary stick-between-the-legs goal is the ultimate -- are entertaining, sure. But let's not over-indulge on such ice-bound cotton candy.
I mean, go ahead, try to picture in your mind's eye, say, The Rocket at full tilt, his famous piercing eyes aflame, collecting the puck at centre and steaming in on some terrified goalie in a shootout. And then executing that cow kick thingy? I don't think so.
Can you see Bobby Hull, the Golden Jet, or the Big M (Frank Mahovlich) "winding up," as Danny Gallivan used to say, and doing something similar? Nuh-uh.
The reason you can't "see" those guys doing those fake-out moves during a shootout is because those guys never participated in shootouts. Seriously, what am I missing here? How is this an issue? I guarantee that if Maurice Richard had to score goals in fifteen or twenty shootouts a year, like modern NHL players have to, he'd come up with some sweet dekes and fake-outs and try them to no end. Why wouldn't he? As long as the NHL says that a game can be won by scoring more goals than your opponent in a shootout, wouldn't you want to try to do whatever you could to score more goals in a shootout? If showboating scores goals (and it does, because Malik scored with that sweet move), then why on earth should it be off-limits?
If you don't like the fake-out moves, MacKinnon, lobby against the shootout itself, not the moves.
I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.
Hat tip to Kukla for the link.
ADDENDUM: Mr. MacKinnon took the time to respond to this post via email, and while I still think the column was pretty worthless, I appreciate his sense of humor and his appeal for me to have one, too. Cheers to you, John.