Tocchet doesn't like the shootout
I report this only because I now feel a lot better about my rant a few weeks back about how the shootout is a gimmick, a terrible way to decide a game and a disservice to the players who have knocked themselves out for 65 minutes.
"I know the people who don't know hockey that well, they sit in the stands and they love it," Tocchet said. "We're a sport that needs people to come and we have to market it. That part, yeah. But as an old, traditional guy, I don't like that part of it. But I understand the marketing part of it. It's an entertainment business."
It also is an aspect of the game at which the Lightning needs to be better. It is 1-4 this season. So the team had a breakaway contest at practice today. Out of 19 skaters (Gary Roberts sat out with an upper body injury), only Jussi Jokinen, Radim Vrbata, Marty St. Louis and Andrej Meszaros scored in the first round.
I thought Tocchet's take on how players view shootouts also was instructive and adds to the incredible weight on the side of shootouts being a terrible gimmick.
"I know when I had a breakaway or a penalty shot years ago, you're nervous," Tocchet said. "I don't think guys are nervous now. I'd like to create some kind of urgency 'We have to win this game.' It's now like guys aren't trying. But it's like, 'It's a shootout.' I don't think there's that overtime feel that if I screw up we're going to lose two points. There's not that urgency."
Asked if that was because a shootout really isn't part of the game, Tocchet said, yes.
"It's weird," he said. "I've seen coaches joking, 'Who do we put out?' like it's a fun thing. So we need to create that urgency."
One method he mentioned: in practice, if you don't score, you skate.
Tocchet said he might try Vrbata in the shootout rotation to replace one of the three who have been staples: Vinny Lecavalier, St. Louis and Jokinen.
"You want to give the proper guys the ball, but there's got to be a time when you say, 'Okay guys, sorry, we have to get some fresh blood in there.' "
Other stuff: Looks like left wing Ryan Malone will play tomorrow against the Predators. ... Evgeny Artyukhin will play left wing with Lecavalier and St. Louis. ... Rookie Steven Stamkos will start at center between Vrbata and Vinny Prospal. Stamkos played so well with Vinny and Marty Tuesday against the Panthers, seemed a bit curious. But Stamkos also played some with Prospal and Vrbata and Tocchet said showed a lot of jump. Generally, though, the changes are Tocchet still trying to find permanent lines. As for Artyukhin, Tocchet said Arty's starts have been slow and wants to put him with linemates who play a fast game to get him involved sooner.