The NHL’s GM meetings in Boca Raton, FL., have concluded—and while the debate about “headshots” reigned supreme, the shootout found a way to rear its ugly head.
The shootout is regarded as one of the most entertaining events in pro sports. However, the league’s general managers feel that the shootout’s days may be numbered.
“I don’t think any of us, when we approved the shootout, envisioned the role it would occupy in our game,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke told the NHL Network earlier this week. “No one would have projected or predicted that so many games would be decided by a skills competition. So I think that’s a sensible change.”
Nobody doubts the excitement that comes along with a shootout, but to have a very valuable point resting on the sticks of just a few players is a problem with most general managers.
“Hockey’s a team game and I think we need to decide games as a team,” Florida Panthers GM Randy Sexton told the NHL Network.
The shootout may not disappear completely, but the GMs are certainly trying to limit the role that it plays in the final standings.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson even drew up a proposal that the first tiebreaker for the regular season’s final standings be changed from "most wins" to “most wins in regulation and overtime.”
Howson’s proposal would eliminate the shootout from being such a major factor at the end of the season.
Don’t think it would be a problem? Well, it would have helped the Florida Panthers get into the playoffs last season over the Montreal Canadiens.
Each club finished last season with 41 wins. However, Florida had three shootout wins, as opposed to Montreal’s seven.
According to Howson’s proposal, the Panthers would have found themselves in a first-round matchup with the Boston Bruins. Instead, the Canadiens won the head-to-head tiebreaker and grabbed the No. 8 seed.
The GMs agreed to send the proposal to the competition committee, which will have the final say on whether it becomes a rule.
If the shootout does disappear, what to replace it with would only create a larger debate.
Should there be an extended, 10-minute overtime? Should that overtime be five-on-five? Should the league go back to ties?
I’m not touching any of those issues with a 40-foot pole—at least not until the offseason when another team loses out on the playoffs because the Bruins, with their ridiculous nine shootout wins, find a way to sneak into the playoffs.