As a player in the ECHL and AHL, it was only natural that I would occasionally be on a team or two that came out on the wrong end of a shootout. If I learned anything from that experience, it’s this: the team reaction is ridiculous.
In most cases, you have three shooters going, and they (along with the goalie) fully control the outcome of the game at that point. Your “team” – you know the actual group of 18 skaters and two goalies – have just battled for 65 minutes against your opponent. The outcome of the game was a tie. That’s what the reaction should be in the dressing room.
Not up, not down, but “hey, today was a tie.” That, as opposed to the curious amount of gear-tossing and silence.
Sure, there are different games where you’re bummed with a tie – maybe you tied a team way below you in the standings, or maybe you blew a lead like Maple Leafs did last night (ouch), but still, those are the things that should shape your “tonight was good” or “tonight was bad attitude.”
But I swear, from the coaching staff to just about every dude on the team, the mood is no different than when you actually lose a game.
Personally, as a guy who used to shoot, I’d feel justified in slamming my helmet in my stall and thumping down my shoulder pads if I missed and we lost. You feel like you contributed to costing your team a crucial point (you did), and that’s a loss. Everyone counts on each other, the team put their faith in you, and you failed.
But the big 6’3″ defenseman who wouldn’t be called upon to take a penalty shot if the rest of his team had been actually shot after overtime….I could never quite figure out why he was tossing his helmet around.
It’s an odd quirk, the shootout, but I really think teams are too outcome-based. You can see it in the mood of coaches in press conferences and player interviews if you watch close enough. Everyone’s puppy ran away.
You want win, you try to win, but if you lose in a shootout, hey – tie game. Shouldn’t guys be reacting to that?