“It was a good game,” Vancouver defenceman Keith Ballard said. “I think everyone who watched it was fairly satisfied. Both teams had good [scoring] opportunities and it was decided by a breakaway contest, which fans like.”
Is Ballard being sarcastic here? I've never heard anyone refer to the shootout as a "breakaway contest" without soaking the phrase in ridiculous sarcasm. When he says, "which fans like," I feel like he's being exclusionary on purpose. Fans, not hockey players, and not Keith Ballard.
It would make complete sense if Ballard was being sarcastic. He has no interest in the shootout. We both know that he has no place in proceedings. You can't hip check a goalie, and you definitely can't bludgeon him. If there's anybody who recognizes the shootout has no place in real hockey games, it's a depth guy like Ballard, whose skills are only on display in a team setting.
I know I wasn't alone in thinking that holding a shootout to decide a sawoff between the best two overall teams in the league was a complete travesty (maybe not a national travesty, but still highly travestous). It has nothing to do with the fact that the Canucks lost, either. It's the simple matter that the game is over, and a "breakaway contest" is a completely different fish. It'd be like if you forced two Old West gunslingers to settle a dispute shooting tin cans. Or forced Zoolander and Hansel to settle a dispute racewalking. It's not the same.
With this quote, I'm getting the distinct sense Ballard felt the same way, but his tone was lost when the sentence went to print.