And just like that the USA Men’s Hockey Team is gone from the Olympics after falling to the No. 2 seed Czech Republic in a shootout during the quarterfinal round of play. No medal, nothing to show for their trip to South Korea but whatever souvenirs they picked up along the way.
Honestly, Team USA deserved to win that game, or at least to have the game decided with actual hockey, and not a skill competition that is essentially a coin flip.
Now, to be clear it wasn’t JUST the shootout portion of the game that cost them, they had tons of chances on the power play throughout the third period and overtime, and still couldn’t find a winner. Had they been able to convert once on those chances, they wouldn’t have found themselves in the circus show, where they proceeded to go 0 for 5 and then packed their bags to return home or to their leagues or wherever it is they go after the Olympics are over.
But again, a shootout is a terrible way to end a game, even worse at an event like the Olympics where you are trying to determine who the best team in the world is. (Yes I know that this year’s winner isn’t the best team in the world, but the rules are the same even when the NHL players are there, so bear with me here.)
It’s not hockey. It is literally a 1-on-1 showdown of an event that happens in actual hockey once a month across the NHL if you’re lucky. You go from a team game and needing every guy or girl on the roster to pull their weight to help the team win to…95 percent of the roster sitting on a bench watching as one player from each team tries to determine the game’s fate.
And then in the Olympics if it is still tied after five rounds you can send out the same person over and over again if they’re good enough at it. Real great team event.
I can see the shootout being used in round robin play, or the regular season in the NHL so there are ties (which are a perfectly fine outcome for a game by the way), but for the actual tournament portion to be decided by it is insane. Honestly, there’s a good chance you could see the women’s gold medal game tonight end up in a shootout with how even Canada and the USA women are, I am not looking forward to that possible outcome.
Ask casual sports fans what the most exciting thing in sports is, and there’s a good chance that they say sudden death overtime in the NHL playoffs, not the shootout.
Imagine the outrage there would be, and how boring it would be, if the NHL decided its playoff games in a shootout, rather than playing actual hockey and scoring a legit goal? Twitter wouldn’t explode in excitement and we all wouldn’t be on the edge of our seats for two teams we don’t even care about.
Just think how dumb it would be if other sports did their equivalent of the shootout to determine a winner or champion. The NFL would have what, that QB skills contest you used to see at the Pro Bowl? MLB would obviously have a home run derby. The NBA likely is having a 3-point contest or slam dunk contest. And soccer, well soccer is dumber than hockey and has the literal biggest sporting event in the world decided by a shootout (penalty kicks for you hipsters), which is insane given how that is even more random than a hockey shootout.
So while the USA squandered chances it had to win the game playing real hockey, they still shouldn’t have been subjected to a shootout coin flip, let them lose, or win, while playing something that looks like the game they just spend 70 minutes playing.