Shoot outs, New Year's, and My Dad

Shoot outs. I will get to those in a moment or two. In the meantime, it is New Year’s Eve and I would like to wish all hockey fans a very happy New Year. New Year’s Day, like most holidays, brings its own trip down memory lane. Mine is of my dad, Walter Hutcheon, aka, Hutch. New Year’s day was a fun holiday for Dad because he loved to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade and reminisce about the year he and my Mom, Barbara, attended the parade and the Rose Bowl football game. Incidentally, the year was 1956. No, I did not go with them. I did not make my earthly appearance for another 5 years.Year after year, we would watch the parade followed by any, and all, college football games. In the my mind, as a boy, spending the day in front of the TV with my Dad, in Billerica, Massachusetts,  was what New Year’s was all about.

On January 1, 2008, New Year’s Day took on a new meaning. That was the date of the first NHL Winter Classic outdoor hockey game. Played in Buffalo between the hometown Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was an instant classic. 2009 saw the game played at Wrigley Field in Chicago followed by the 2010 game at Boston’s Fenway Park. The Winter Classic brought a new tradition in my home as we never miss a minute of the action. When I say we, I am talking about my son, Jonathan, and I. We lost my father in 1995 when he lost his battle with cancer. He never saw a Winter Classic game which saddens me. He would have loved it, as mentioned, he was a football fan but I chose to play hockey instead of football when I was 8 years old and he immersed himself into learning everything possible about hockey. Everything from the sport’s history to the rules. My father helped coach my youth teams and also became a certified referee and officiated youth hockey for many years. I could go on and on with story after story about the bond that existed between my father, myself, and my son, all thanks to hockey but suffice to say, if he were here to have his choice of watching football or the Winter Classic, I am extremely confident Dad would not only choose to watch the hockey game, he would be first into the living room so he could have the best seat in the house.

The Boston Bruins lost to the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, last night in a shoot out and more than a few fans have a problem with that. They do not have a problem with how the Bruins played. The B’s carried the play for most of the game. The black and gold consistently tested Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec by putting 44 shots at him. Pavelec showed why he is second behind Bruins goaltender, Tim Thomas, in save percentage and third in goals against average in the National Hockey League. Games between these two teams have quickly become exciting, competitive, affairs highlighted by the two best goaltenders, statistically, in the NHL. In this writer’s humble opinion, a 2-2 tie would have been a testament to the outstanding play by Pavelec and Thomas but the NHL thinks you want to see a great game decided by a skills competition. The shoot out. At the inception of the shoot out, a majority of fans liked the concept. It was new and exciting to see if the best shooters could score against the best goaltenders but people are realizing this is not the best manner to decide a hockey game. The shoot out has lost it’s luster. Fans are becoming increasingly frustrated when their favorite team plays a great game only to see it “lose” because the other team’s shooters had a better night in a competition that really has nothing to do with the game. Sure, breakaways occur during games but not often. It is time for the shoot out to go the way of the the two line, off side pass. Let’s say good bye to it and hello to a ten minute overtime instead of the five minute overtime that exists now. If no one scores in the overtime then the game ends in a tie. There is certainly no harm in watching two evenly matched teams play to a tie on a certain given night. The better team will win on another night.

Happy New Year to all of you. Saturday’s Winter Classic will see Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in, what could be, the best Winter Classic of them all. Enjoy every second of it. I know my Dad, Walter Hutcheon, would.

Remember, you have just 3 days remaining to go to http://vote.nhl.com/ and vote for Tim ThomasPatrice BergeronZdeno Chara, and David Krejci, for the 2011 NHL All Star Game.

For all news pertaining to the NHL in general…..please visit  Too Many Men on the Site – Fansided`s excellent coverage of the Greatest Game on Ice !

Shawn Hutcheon can be followed on twitter by going to www.twitter.com/@shawnhutcheon. He will be tweeting throughout the Winter Classic. See what he has to say as it happens.

You can also become his friend on facebook by going to www.facebook.com/shawnhutcheon.

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Tags: Alexander Ovechkin Atlanta Thrashers Barbara Hutcheon Billerica Boston Boston Bruins Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Chicago David Krejci Facebook Fenway Park Heinz Field Jonathan Hutcheon Massachusetts National Hockey League New Year's Day New Year's Eve NHL NHL Winter Classic Ondrej Pavelec Patrice Bergeron Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Penguins Rose Bowl Shawn Hutcheon Shoot Out Sidney Crosby Tim Thomas Tournament Of Roses Parade Twitter Walter Hutcheon Wrigley Field Zdeno Chara

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