The NFL currently is trying to convince at least 24 owners to reduce regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, primarily to eliminate one of the poopfest-based arguments against Thursday Night Football. The Competition Committee has argued that the number of maximum minutes needs to shrink from 75 to 70 because of the possibility that one of the teams will be playing again only four days later.
Meanwhile, hockey players play playoff games that can last an unlimited amount of time, often with another opportunity to do the same thing coming only two days later. And no one ever says boo about it.
Yes, it’s rare that overtime in playoff hockey results in a practical doubleheader. But it’s not unprecedented; it’s happened four times since 2000. (On May 4 of that year, the Penguins and Flyers played more than 150 total minutes.)
Football is a rough and tumble sport, and the league, teams, coaches, and players should be concerned about player health and safety. But watch a game tonight if you don’t think playoff hockey is every bit as rough and/or tumble.
Last night, all four playoff games went to overtime. For the Maple Leafs and Capitals, overtime came two nights after double overtime.
The point here is that, for whatever reason, the hockey establishment (including the players) has no qualms whatsoever about the strain that up to 28 playoff games — any, some, or all of which could result in overtime — after 82 regular-season games can have on the men who skate, shoot, check, hit, fall, fight, etc. The football establishment has become increasingly skittish about potential overuse of players.
Yes, regular-season hockey has up to only five extra minutes and then a shootout (football should use a shootout of sorts, too, to settle regular-season ties), and NFL playoff games in their can go on indefinitely, too. But no football game ever has resulted in 30 extra minutes of play following the original sixty, and NFL teams play up to only four playoff games per year.
For hockey, the playoffs amount to a second season that stretches nearly two months, with games typically happening every two days and teams susceptible of playing two full games or more in order to secure a winner.
Good, bad, or otherwise, hockey will continue to do what hockey does. And you can marvel at it tonight, coincidentally, as the Rangers host the Canadiens (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the Blue Jackets host the Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC), and/or the Sharks host the Oilers (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).