Why the NHL Should Do Away with the Shootout and Bring Back Ties
Excited crowds, motivated players and stellar goaltenders are on display every time an NHL game goes into a shootout.
It is a decisive and clear way to end a game once two teams have battled on even terms for 60 minutes of regulation hockey and five minutes of four-on-four play in overtime.
Exciting as it may be, the shootout turns the game into a skills competition.
It's not that the shootout does not have a place in the NHL. It should be one of the most dynamic events at the annual skills competition during the All-Star weekend. Or it could be a fantastic between-periods feature on NBC's national broadcasts as the best and most creative players in the league show off their moves and offensive skills against the league's best goaltenders.
During the 1970s, ABC did this with a one-on-one competition when it broadcast NBA games.
However, the shootout has no place in deciding the outcome of regular season NHL games.
Here's what the NHL should do. If a game remains tied at the end of the five-minute overtime period, play five more minutes of three-on-three.
If nobody scores in either overtime session, we will honor tradition and call it a tie.
There is nothing wrong with a tie. The NHL allowed for ties through the 2003-04 season. After the 2004-05 lockout season, the shootout concept was introduced and the tie was eliminated.
There's nothing wrong with it and it is entertaining, but it is not a fitting way to dole out points that decide who makes the playoffs.
There's no argument that the shootout is not a fit way to decide games. The league makes this point itself in its official standings.
In the column directly to the right of points, NHL.com lists "ROW." This stands for regulation or overtime wins. It does not include shootout wins.
If the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins are tied for first place in the Northeast Division at the end of the season, but the Bruins have a smaller number in the ROW category, the Canadiens would earn first place because they won more games in regulation or the five-minute overtime period.
These wins are more important and "better" than shootout wins.
So a win is not necessarily a win.
Shootouts are exciting and they do involve some individual skill, but they have nothing to do with the team concept of the sport. The shootout bastardizes NHL hockey and cheapens it.
Ties were considered a fair and honest way to end games through 2003-04. Nothing has changed. They should be brought back and each team should get a point.
Take away the point for teams that lose overtime games.
Return fairness and team play to the NHL.
Retire the shootout.
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