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Loose Change: Oh shoot

This NHL shootout thing is turning into a real Pandora’s Box (For the record I have no idea who Pandora is and why his or her box is so difficult to get into - or out of – but, like all lazy writers, I’ll cite the 1927 case of The People v. Pandora as proof of my incredible knowledge/BS base).

The shootout idea was implemented as a (frivolous) way to appease the (fickle) hockey fan by ridding the sport of one of its (many) apparent annoyances. Tie games are as attractive to fans as proverbially kissing your sister, although if say, Molly Sims was my sister I’m sure I could fight off the pangs of guilt and strange looks I’d get from the general public enough to fight through any apprehension I might have.

Still, ties are evil. Yes, they seem to work in soccer and have worked for some three hundred years and soccer is the most popular sport on the planet but hockey, as we know, is more caboose than locomotive so the I-think-we-cans beat out the leave-it-alones.

So, it was decided by the Gods of Hockey (two Jersey lawyers at a Hooters) that, after 60 minutes of regulation time and five minutes of overtime the game would go to a penalty shootout (assuming the game was either still tied or excruciatingly boring) to determine a winner. Seemed simple enough.

The ice would be resurfaced in a pattern reminiscent of a landing strip (airline sponsorship tie-in, possibly) and the teams would send one skater at a time in an Old West style showdown with the opposing goalie (no guns allowed but holsters would be permitted making Jaromir Jagr, and his legendary invisible pistol, very happy).

Then the questions started.

Who starts the shootout?
How many shooters will shoot?
When does the coach have to submit a list?
Does it need to be notarized?
Is it tax deductible?

For such a simple venture as having one player shoot at another player, this had started to become very complicated. There were questions on the logistics of stick measurements; how much physical leeway was allowed; and what sound effects to play following a goal or a save (love the boink).

Now the question being raised is one about player eligibility, specifically whether a player, who takes a penalty in the overtime, should be allowed to shoot in the shootout. The logic here being that a player who commits a foul has somehow forfeited his right to participate in the fun and educational extra-curricular activities.

So, it’s now come to this. The National Hockey League, in an attempt to simply spice up its product in a terribly hokey creative move, has now turned the simple endeavor into a complete civil rights question. That being: Is a player (a human) still considered a player (a human) after he’s committed an act against his society (the other team)?

A player, down-graded and non-eligible because of his past wrongs, suddenly in the grand democracy of this sport has become sub-human and is cast out (likely to the showers for physical and emotional cleansing) by his peers. He is ineligible for the shootout. His rights have been removed. It is segregation of the highest (OK, fairly minimal but still crucial) order.

I ask you this: Do prisoners lose their right to vote? Hell no.

I, for one, cannot sit idly by and watch The Constitution (Bill of Rights, Owner’s Manual) so shamelessly abused.

If a simple stick infraction at an inopportune time is enough to remove the basic participatory rights of a human being, then I cannot continue to support such an unjust game. We must stand up to this sort of oppression or be crushed by its creeping presence.

Cross-checkers are people too, you know.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on thehockeynews.com. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at charlieteljeur@hotmail.com.

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