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The Winnipeg Jets lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night in the 3-on-3 overtime, as Ondrej Palat scored 36 seconds into it for the game-winner.
Dustin Byfuglien was on the Jets bench watching the play. And by “play” we mean an “abhorrent affront to all things that are hockey,” according to Dustin Byfuglien.
"It’s terrible. It’s a terrible part of hockey. It’s not hockey," Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien said this morning after his team lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning here Friday night.
"It ain’t hockey. It’s ‘Just let the kids play.’ It’s stupid.
"Just keep it four-on-four, five-on-five. Let’s just play hockey."
We’re sure this has nothing to do at all with the loss or the idea that a 260-pound guy is going to have to haul-ass chasing breakaways for three minutes every few nights…
Look, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and the 3-on-3 is hardly perfect, either in execution or as a mechanism for determining who deserves the extra point in what’s essentially an NHL tie. (But Americans hate ties, so...) I'm rather fond of it, but I'm also not seeing my 24 minutes of skating pissed away in 26 seconds by the other team in a 3-on-3.
Two important takeaways from criticism like this:
1. We could have had 4-on-4 overtime before we had the 3-on-3, but Byfuglien’s Players Association spiked the idea because they had safety concerns for the players. So, I guess, take it up at the next union meeting, sir.
2. The “it ain’t hockey” argument is a non-starter because the NHL has decided that regular season games that go to overtime are going to end with “ain’t hockey.” And the only thing we can hope for is that the ultimate example of “ain’t hockey” (i.e. the shootout) is reduced to the point of extinction by the lesser of two apparently necessary evils.
And as Kevin Dupont notes, four of the five overtime games on Saturday night ended before the skills competition.
As Byfuglien’s teammate Bryan Little said about the 3-on-3: "It’s a tough way to lose but the shootout is an even worse way to lose.”
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