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Are TV timouts ruining the game?

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  • Joe Pelletier
    I like this article, some good thought behind this http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040723/TIMEOUTS23/TPSports/TopStories
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2004
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      I like this article, some good thought behind this


      Television timeouts enervating the NHL

      ANALYSIS: Interruptions disrupt flow of the game and kill offence, TIM
      WHARNSBY reports


      National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman convened a meeting with a
      few players, some league executives and a couple of members of the media in
      New York yesterday to discuss the decline in interest in the professional
      game in the United States.

      They likely thrashed about the rule changes being contemplated by the
      league's general managers. You know, the tag-up offside rule, the moving
      back of the goal lines, no-touch icing and the continual picking on

      Here's hoping one of the members of this purported blue-ribbon panel had the
      temerity to tell Bettman to stop picking on the size of the goaltender's
      pads and whether they can play the puck behind the goal line. Instead, let's
      hope someone convinced Bettman to deal with a more serious issue
      --television timeouts.

      Goaltenders were asked to reduce the width of their pads to 12 inches (30.5
      centimetres) in the late 1980s, yet players such as Brett Hull (86 goals in
      1990-91), Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny (76 goals each in 1992-93) and
      Luc Robitaille (63 goals in 1992-93) managed to find room to score.

      The league wants to lop off another two inches.

      Last year, the goaltenders had their knee boards taken away. Was there any
      coincidence that the lack of shock absorbers for goaltenders resulted in hip
      injuries to Sean Burke, Robert Esche, Jocelyn Thibault and Tommy Salo?

      The tag-up offside rule, no-touch icing and the moving of the goal line back
      closer to the end boards are steps in the right direction. But another key
      issue that should be discussed is the lack of flow to the game. Television
      timeouts are killing the NHL game. It disrupts the flow of the game and
      kills offence.

      "The key for us as players is to have a strong flow to the game,'' St. Louis
      Blues defenceman Chris Pronger said. "You saw how no TV timeouts in the
      Olympics restored that flow, and we see it every spring in the playoffs
      because there are no television timeouts in overtime and there is tremendous
      flow to the game in OT.

      "TV timeouts are momentum killers. One team benefits and the other team does

      The focus on the lack of offence in the game today has been laid at the feet
      of the defensive-first systems that teams employ these days, as well as
      goaltending and expansion. But the statistics also indicate television
      timeouts have played a role in the decrease in the number of goals and
      quality scoring chances.

      Before the 1992-93 season, when the league introduced four 70-second
      timeouts for television a period (later changed to three 90-second timeouts
      a period), an average of 6.91 goals were scored a game in 1991-92, when each
      game had a barely noticeable seven 30-second commercial breaks a period.

      In the first season of regulated television timeouts, goals a game topped
      out at an average of 7.24, but as the league's coaches became more
      accustomed to using the timeouts to slow down the game, the number of goals
      have steadily decreased. The better players are on the ice more as a result
      of the timeouts, and this may have resulted in too much ice time for these
      players and more injuries.

      The number of goals bottomed out this past season when only 5.13 goals a
      game were scored on average, a 48-year low. The problem will be convincing
      the league that the Olympic style, in which there were no television
      timeouts, is best. The league has to kowtow to the networks because of
      revenue the local deals bring in and, of course, the Hockey Night in Canada
      contract in Canada.

      "Unfortunately, we're in a situation unlike other leagues that we need every
      dollar we can squeeze out of television deals, local and national,'' said
      Hall of Famer Bill Barber, who is also the Tampa Bay Lightning's director of
      player personnel. "Would we like to have them out? Sure we would. It would
      put the flow back in the game.''

      Barber believes the tag-up offside rule will help put some flow back into
      the game. The rule was in effect from the 1986-87 season for about a decade.

      Pronger would like to see the enforcement of the hurry-up faceoff returned.
      "What happened to that rule?'' Pronger asked. "It sort of disappeared.''

      After the hurry-up faceoff was such a success at the Salt Lake Olympics in
      2002, in which teams had only 15 seconds to line up after a stoppage in
      play, the league implemented an 18-second hurry-up faceoff for the 2002-03
      season. The players felt it was a huge success, but the enforcement of the
      rule dropped significantly last season.

      So, could we see no television timeouts in the NHL? Hockey Night in Canada
      executive producer Joel Darling said it is unlikely because advertisers want
      their commercials shown during the period because "that's when the most
      people are watching.

      "Television timeouts have almost become a part of sport,'' Darling said.
      "The only option I see is go back to the seven 30-second stops. I would be
      happy with that.''

      So would the players. And in the long run the game would be better.


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