As Harrison so adroitly pointed out over the weekend, the Canucks have been a target of some biased journalism throughout the playoffs. Whether it’s Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre being criticized for their “classless” play, Roberto Luongo being ripped for giving an honest and insightful answer to a question, the Sedins having the existence of their Y chromosomes called into doubt, or Aaron Rome being labelled the worst human being since, well, Raffi Torres, the criticism is flying from all quarters.
The general consensus from these purveyors of printed putrescence is that the Canucks are not winning the right way and that if the Canucks do indeed hoist the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of tonight or Wednesday night’s game, they won’t have earned it. Clearly, the Canucks have not been winning games by scoring more goals than their opponents. No, they have embellished, bit, elbowed, trash-talked, and concussed their way to victory and no other team in the history of the NHL has won a Stanley Cup in this way.
The truth is, of course, that it doesn’t truly matter how a team wins the Stanley Cup, though I might object if the Canucks began wielding chainsaws and dismembering their opponents. If the Canucks win the Cup, people will remember Burrows more for his overtime gamewinning goals than his biting incident. Lapierre will be the player who scored the only goal in a crucial Game 5 victory. Luongo will be hailed for his 2 (or more) shutouts in the Final, Henrik will be praised for being only the second European captain to lead his team to the Cup, and it will be revealed that Kesler was playing with 72 separate injuries.
It doesn’t matter how you win; there are no style points in hockey.
But maybe there should be.
Let’s compare hockey to sports that feature judging, such as figure skating, ski-jumping, and diving and see if there is some way we could institute an impartial panel of judges to assess artistic merit and style. Each of these three sports has a few elements that we can draw out and apply to hockey. Each has a relatively impartial set of standards for assessing how well the competitor did: figure skating has required elements to a routine as well as a technical score that is closely scrutinized to be as impartial as possible. Ski-jumping has a simple impartial standard — how far did the competitor jump — but then also judges how well he jumped. Diving assesses each dive a degree of difficulty, which is then multiplied by the judges scores.
So let’s apply this to hockey. First, we’ll say that the actual score of the game is the technical score or the “actual distance jumped” in the case of ski-jumping. But this score alone will not determine the outcome of the game. Let’s say that each hockey game has some required elements: obviously there need to be hits, shots, and saves, but those are so numerous that requiring them would be pointless.
So let’s get more specific: required elements will include one breakaway (both offensively and defensively so teams will have a reason to allow a breakaway), one powerplay, one penalty kill, one hipcheck, and one fight. Each of these elements will be assessed a degree of difficulty: a player that attempts the famous Bure kick-move or a Malik-ian between-the-legs goal will be assessed a higher degree of difficulty. Likewise, a goalie that makes a particularly difficult attempt at making a save will have a high degree of difficulty. A player that picks a fight with George Parros or Matt Carkner will have a high degree of difficulty, while fights picked with Kyle Wellwood or Christian Ehrhoff will not. Failure to complete any of the required elements will result in a major deduction in points. In this way, fighting will actually contribute to a victory and goons will have job security once again.
A panel of judges, one from each country represented in the NHL, will preside over each game and judge each of the required elements for technical achievement and artistic merit. A particularly fluid powerplay, with crisp puck movement, excellent traffic in front of the net, and booming point shots will receive high marks, potentially helping a team win the game even if it does not result in a goal. A hipcheck that results in a perfect parabolic arc of the opponent’s skates is ideal. A breakaway move that includes a flawless Triple Salchow – Double Loop combination: perfect.
Ideally, the judging would eventually break down into an overall score out of 10. This score would be added to the number of actual goals scored during the game to produce an aggregate score. Then every game, no matter whether the score is tied or not, will end in a shootout, with each shootout attempt given a degree of difficulty and judged according how well the move is carried out just like the required elements in regulation. A score of 0-out-of-10 will be awarded upon a complete failure, while a 10 will be given only if the attempt is aesthetically pleasing. Actually scoring a goal with the shootout attempt will result in a slight increase in the technical score. The resultant scores will be added to the results of the game to produce the final outcome.
I’m sure that there will be some people who object to the inclusion of the shootout at the end of each game, arguing that it belittles the judges’ scores during regulation time, but fans like the shootout, and with a victory on the line, the creativity of the shootout attempts will surely increase. With the added entertainment value of more creative and artistic shootout attempts, ESPN might start paying more attention.
Any classless play will result in points deducted from a team’s overall score. Any embellishment will receive a harsh deduction, though two-handed slashes will be considered gamesmanship and will be judged on a case-by-case basis. Any taunting motions made with fingers will result in a loss of points, unless it’s hilarious.
With this system in place, teams will have to play the right way in order to win the Stanley Cup and we would never have to face the indignity of a dirty player getting his name on the Cup. Clearly, this is the best possible solution.
Tags: Brilliant ideas, Bruins, Canucks, Dirty Players, featured, I'm super-serious you guys, playoffs, Questionable Comedic Content, Stanley Cup Final