March 14, 2014

A solution to the NHL’s shootout “problem”

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Only the NHL would think that something that has an 80% approval rating needs to be fixed.

Earlier this week at what seems like the eight-times a year GM meeting, one of the bigger debates was about the shootout – something insanely popular among the league’s fans.

But while the vast majority of the league’s fans love the spectacle, the league’s general managers do not.

To be honest, I think that it’s a better option than infinite overtime in the regular season, but there needs to be less of an importance placed on it.

The more games that are settled before going to this exhibition, the better. So, isn’t the solution easy? Make shootout wins less important in the standings.

If wins in regulation were worth three points and wins in overtime and the shootout were worth two, teams would be more inclined to go all out for the regulation win.

You could even convince me to get rid of the consolation point for losing in extra time, but most would think that’s going too far.

While basically every international tournament uses this style of scoring system, the NHL does not for some reason.

This solution doesn’t necessitate any on-ice rule changes, which helps keep the game simple for fans. And after completely changing the division and playoff-seeding system this season, it’s not like ice hockey fans aren’t used to adapting to changes.

The one change that was suggested – and thankful was quickly shot down – was going an extra five minutes of OT and making it three-on-three. The solution isn’t to keep on removing players to open up the ice, that only makes things harder for young fans to understand. It also creates situations that don’t happen normally in a game – another problem with the shootout.

The GMs’ ultimately decided on having teams switch ends, making for longer changes in OT. While it’s a nice tweak, I’m not sure how many more goals that will actually lead too. I’m sure that games decided in OT would only have a marginal uptick.

What the NHL needs is to overhaul its standings system. Keep the shootout to settle things, just don’t let it carry as much weight.

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