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Book Review: “Shoot To Thrill: The History of Hockey’s Shootout” by Mark Roseman & Howie Karpin

April 12, 2015 6 comments

There are not too many hockey fans without strong sentiments on the NHL shootout – one half lauds it as an exciting way to conclude a match-up, while the other half calls for it to die a quick and very painful death. At the moment, I personally am tempted to side with the latter, as my LA Kings’ abysmal 2-8 shootout record this season arguably cost them a playoff spot. But despite the disparity in mass opinion, both sides of the issue surely can agree that shootouts capture the full attention of fans when they happen, whether they’re at the rink or in front of a TV screen.

But why does the NHL use a shootout? And where did it come from? For fans seeking answers to those hockey showdown related questions and more, there is a great new book that goes above and beyond to not only satisfy your queries, but to provide you with further elucidation that you didn’t even know you needed. “Shoot To Thrill: The History of Hockey’s Shootout” by Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin is sure to smarten you Shoot to Thrillup when it comes to shootouts.

The authors tell of the shootout’s evolution from its introduction at the 1988 Winter Olympics, and details the differences between the Olympic version and the NHL’s incarnation. Furthermore, other sports appear to have influenced it as well. They contend it’s an offshoot from soccer, who adopted penalty kicks to determine game outcomes in the 1980’s (yes, even the world’s most popular sport had to evolve at one point). Roots even spread deeper to basketball, from a one-on-one competition that ABC aired on television in the early 1970’s, which NBC mimicked in return, airing a hockey version in the following years until the 1980’s. This “Showdown” as it was dubbed, was intermission entertainment, and draws striking similarities to modern day reality TV – eliminating competitors, and awarding prize money to the victors.

The shootout also seems to be the step-brother of the penalty shot, which was implemented in the 1920’s in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, and later adopted into the NHL in 1934. What began as a stationary shot, then morphed to a shot from a confined area, and all the way to the center ice breakaway version we see nowadays during both penalty shots and shootout attempts.

The book also provides Interesting statistics from memorable Olympic and NHL shootouts and penalty shots, detailing the shooters, the outcome of each attempt, and deeper trivia like who the first ever shootout shooters and scorers were, longest, players who have had two penalty shots in a game, two in a period, and who’s had a penalty shot goal disallowed because of an illegal curve.  You also get some insider intel from players and goalies on how they prepare for shootouts, and which goalies and shooters they themselves would pick. Nearly 100 opinions come out from former and current players, broadcasters and officials on whether they like the shootout or not. The book also includes a handy appendix of team shootout records, detailing each NHL team’s top three most successful shooters, and goaltender with the best shootout record.

Whether you’re a casual fan, hockey stats and history junkie, or somewhere in between, “Shoot To Thrill” is a real page turner that I’m sure you’ll enjoy and learn from.

You can find it online as a hardcover or e-book on Amazon, or at your local bookstore, with any luck.

Below is the official press release from Sports Publishing, and imprint of Skyhorse Publishing:

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Shoot to Thrill:

The History of Hockey’s Shootout

By Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin

Some maintain that hockey’s shootout erases a sixty-five-minute emotional roller coaster between two teams and that it’s wrong for games to be decided based on a one-on-one battle between a shooter and a goalie.

Others argue that shootouts provide edge-of-your seat excitement as two supremely skilled players go head-to-head for all the marbles.

“The anecdotes and notes [in this book] will enlighten any hockey fan and will give you a perspective into how and why this rule was added from those who were and are still directly involved.”  – from the foreword by “Jiggs” McDonald

In 2005, the National Hockey League adopted the shootout to settle ties in regular season games. Some rule changes are instituted without anyone’s noticing. Others shake the game to its very foundations. Ten years after its introduction, the shootout remains one of the most significant and controversial rule changes in all of sports.

Shoot to Thrill blends history, stats, and personal perspectives from players, coaches, officials, and broadcasters. Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin explore how players and coaches prepare forshootouts, what they think of them, and how shootouts have helped shape hockey history over the past decade.

Like the designated-hitter rule in baseball, hockey’s shootout has left no fan impartial to it.

Love the rule or hate it, no one stops watching when it’s time for a shootout!

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About the Authors

MARK ROSENMAN has been covering sports since 1979, as an on air talk show host on Cablevision, WGLI, and WGBB. He is currently the host and producer of WLIE 540 a.m. SportsTalkNY. He is credentialed with the NHL and covers both the Islanders and Rangers and is credentialed with MLB and covers the New York Mets. He lives in Commack, New York.

HOWIE KARPIN has been a sports reporter for more than thirty years and has covered everything from the World Series to the Stanley Cup Finals. He is an accredited official scorer for Major League Baseball in New York and is a contributor to Mad Dog Radio, MLB Radio, and NFL Radio. He lives in the Bronx, New York.

Sports Publishing hardcover, also available as an ebook

Pub Date: March 17, 2015

ISBN 978-1-61321-797-9

Price: $19.99

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*****Wanna win your own copy of “Shoot To Thrill”? Be the first to tell me in a comment who scored the most NHL shootout goals in the 2014-15 regular season, and I’ll send you your own hardcover version of the book!******

Hockey Talkie: 24/7, NYI, Kings Colors Contention, Price Pose, Langenbrunner Laud, Spin-O-Rama’s, Pro-tection, and Euro-League Relegation.

January 15, 2011 3 comments

So I, seemingly like every hockey fan, loved HBO’s 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic mini-series. I touched on it a couple of blogs ago already, and the topic’s generally been beat to death and forgotten by now, but there’s two points I still want to discuss: First, as cool as the series was, the build-up was for a gimmicky mid-season game. Doesn’t the series seem tailor-made for the passion and emotion behind the pursuit of the Stanley Cup in the playoffs, and for specifically, the Cup Finals? Wouldn’t your eyes be glued to your TV watching the triumph of winning and heartbreak of losing the toughest trophy to win in sports? The boyhood dream storyline, first and last shots at the Cup… can you imagine seeing Marian Hossa backstage at any point of losing 2/winning 1? It blows me away that Americans need hockey to be put in a football stadium (where I can’t imagine fans at the game can see any of the action on a playing surface that’s ¼ the size of the football surface, unless they’re watching the jumbotron the whole game, in which case why didn’t they just stay home and watch it on TV?) in order for them to flock to it. Part of me thinks someday they (Americans)’ll get our game, the other part thinks the US sell is a big waste of time and the NHL should just milk the Canadian loyalist audience for all its worth.

On a lighter note, one of, if not the funniest segment of the whole series was Capitals’ coach Bruce Boudreau Christmas shopping for his wife, getting distracted by a Haagen Daaz ice cream store, saying “it’s never too early for ice cream”, getting turned away because the store didn’t serve ice cream that early, getting rattled, and then leaving the store with a shoes for his wife that were admittedly the wrong size and color. I mean, fat guy hypnotized by ice cream? The comedy writes itself. Enjoy:

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In an ongoing effort to not be poor, I was seriously considering betting against the New York Islanders for the rest of the season to make some money; and it seems good that I didn’t follow through on the notion, because they started beating top teams like Detroit and Pittsburgh. Someone tell the Islanders they’re not supposed to play “spoiler” until the playoff push. Good for them frustrating top teams lately, as well as my interest in gambling.

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If the LA Kings were better in their earlier years, do you think they would have stuck with the purple and gold jerseys? The LA Lakers win titles, and they look good in those colors; yet the Kings were bad, and got mocked for them. Coincidence?

Same colors: One is adorned in rap songs, the other ridiculed through history.

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I really enjoyed Carey Price’s crossed arm pose after stopping Pittsburgh in a shootout recently, mostly because of the heat he’s taken in Montreal for so long; it was good to see him have some success and win some favour back.  I’ve secretly been cheering for him to shake the Halak-ian curse, and I think he’s pretty well done that, finally.  Then of course, the Habs lost to Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury jammed it down his throat by doing the same pose. Hmm, oh well, so much for that.

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I was surprised to see Jamie Langenbrunner not only traded from the New Jersey Devils recently, but also traded for so little. A guy that’s won 2 Cups, captained an NHL and Olympic team, and always put up consistent, steady point production seems worth more than a 3rd/2nd round pick. But there isn’t much value in anyone from the Devils these days. I think NJ got hosed in that deal; at least Langenbrunner gets to play for a good team.

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There’s been lots of talk about spin-o-rama goals in shootouts these days. My thought is I’m fine with them. My only potential beef is with goals like Mason Raymond’s ; I think he might have stopped moving forward, which is the only real shootout rule, besides the idiotics of Kovalchuk losing the puck and Stamkos falling (seriously, of all players, those two both f’d up clear, uncontested breakaways?).

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Ovie demo'ing the 2012 Oakley visor

I’ve never understood why pro players insist on things like wearing no helmet in warm-up, taking the earguards of their helmets, and wearing visors that are not approved by any standards association in the world. I just don’t get wearing less protection at the level full of the biggest and toughest players in the world, that theoretically could damage you more than anyone else in the sport. Did anyone see Scott Gomez a few years ago take a puck in the head during warm-up that ricocheted off the post and into his melon and bust him open? At literally every level of hockey besides pro, you have to wear approved equipment (minor, junior, college/university, & minor pro), so why do players shed all the gear they’ve gotten used to over their entire playing career to be less safe? It’s gotta be all aesthetics, right?  From a business standpoint, it’s a really dumb move — the pros wear all this special gear, and young minor hockey players want to wear it, but when they go to buy it, they find out it’s not approved by the safety standards that regulate equipment use at their level (The Oakley visors are the prime example, they’re illegal in every level up to pro).  These kids are the major market for equipment manufacturers because parents will buy their kids whatever they want, in contrast to the junior or college player who gets all their gear provided to them by their team. 

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And lastly, do you think European-League relegation theory would ever work in North American hockey, specifically the NHL–AHL and maaaaybe ECHL? The process is this: If you win your league, your team ascends to the league above and receives an inflated budget. If you finish dead last, you go down and lose money. Sure, this could introduce a lot of problems, most notably probably the last-place/first-draft-pick system, but it’d make for a little more competitiveness and exposure to unknown teams, don’t you think?

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