Hockey would be a great sport if they could only do one thing. Well, actually, there are a lot of things they could do, like get Wayne Gretzky to fight Tie Domi. But one thing really, really bugs me: it's late in a close game, the teams are battling back and forth, the tension is building, the goalie is getting ready to skate to the bench, and then suddenly... it's time out.
Yes, those dorks who run the NHL decided that the right thing to do at the moment the game is most exciting is call all the players over to the bench and just chat about things for a bit, while two million fans (or, in the U.S., two million fans) sit in front of their TV sets and grind their teeth.
This is the stupidest rule in pro-sports, or maybe the second stupidest, if you count "field goals" in football, or football itself, which consists of large, well-paid, mobile appliances running across a grass field and bumping into each other.
Of course, everything is relative. When I mean "stupidest rule in pro sports", I mean, of course "stupidest rule in hockey" since most other pro sports--except for real football (soccer)--do exactly that all the time. American football, in fact, consists entirely of time-outs interrupted briefly, occasionally by short bursts of action. It takes how long to play the last two minutes of basketball? How many times may a batter step out of the batter's box to adjust his batting gloves?
There is one thing they could do which might make the 30-second time-out a little interesting. They could put one of those mini-cameras with a microphone on the coach and let all of us in on the discussion. Better yet, we should be able to phone individual players and make suggestions like, "Mats, you gonna try and get a goal, or what?" or "Hey, Wayne, I hear that Tie Domi said some awfully crude things about your mother last night".
And don't do it like baseball did during the World Series. They let us in on the conversation, all right. It was apparent to everyone that the players and coaches were told before-hand when they would be on the air. What's the fun in that? "Hey, Kenny, you gonna try and steal a base or what."
I think they should have done it without warning anybody. Wire everyone on the field and let the broadcasters choose who to broadcast at any given moment.