Making a case against the shootout…

All the talk around the NHL the past day or two has been the exciting Marik Malik goal to win the game on the 15th shooter for the NY Rangers. Almost everyone is talking about how exciting the shootout is and how, for that reason, it is here to stay. Some are even going to say that the shootout will soon come to playoff hockey. I say, let’s not get carried away.

Take it from the tired legs of people who were at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, stood at the start of the shootout, never sat down and were jumping when the Rangers won the thing in the 15th round. —Mark Herrmann

As someone who watched the whole shootout let me say that yes, it was entertaining. But just because something is entertaining, doesn’t mean it is a good way to end a hockey game. Watching a hockey fight is entertaining too but no one ever suggests settling hockey games that way. Why? Because entertaining or not it just isn’t hockey. It would hurt the integrity of the sport to resolve a game that way. The whole argument of deciding a hockey game one way over another because of entertainment value is just plain bogus. There are lots of things that I find entertaining, many much more entertaining than a shootout, but I wouldn’t ever suggest deciding a hockey game that way. Hockey is a team game, not an individual game. Hockey game should not be decided by a fight, or a shootout or any other individual skills competition.

But even if entertainment value is what we are going for, can anyone suggest that the 5 minute overtime was not entertaining? The Rangers had 6 shots in that overtime and they had to kill a full 2 minute penalty as well. Was that not entertaining? Having watched the overtime I can confidently say, yes, it definitely was. It was certainly more entertaining than watching Maxime Kondratiev and Tomas Fleischmann make feeble attempts at scoring in the shootout. I am sure no one out there is desperately waiting for the day when they can see these too guys take another penalty shot in the shoot out. And you simply cannot convince me that fans would be less excited had the Rangers scored in overtime than in the shootout to win. Had Malik, or anyone else, scored a between the legs goal like that in overtime, would still be talking about how amazing the goal was? You bet we would.

So what would be an appropriate way to end the game. Well, first off I think I need to say that ties aren’t a bad thing, so long as they are relatively rare. According to my count there have been 69 games that went to overtime with 34 of those decided in overtime and the other 35 decided in the shootout. What if we extended overtime to 10 minutes? Doing that I suspect we could get rid of the majority of tie games without attacking the integrity of the game by resolving the game by a skills competition. With the increased scoring in the NHL, I think a 10 minute overtime would result in relatively few ties and those can just go into the record books as a well deserved tie. There is nothing wrong with that and it certainly isn’t as bad as deciding a team game on an individual skills competition.

This article has 7 Comments

  1. I completely agree! Hockey is a team game, and, as entertaining as shootouts may be, they completely go against the heart and spirit of the game!

  2. Right now, the 5 minute OT seems like so little. I don’t know if it’s always been this way, but it seems like OT starts and then is over before you know it. I’d love to see a 10 minute OT and no shootout next year.

    Although if they do that, I’d hope they go to 2 periods, 5 minutes 5-5 then 5 minutes 4-4.

  3. What are you talking about? A ten minute overtime would make hockey games excessively long. A five minute overtime is all that is required whether you were deciding on ties or shootouts.

    If you are arguing against a shootout, then you are arguing against the new, offensively oriented game – I suppose you’re in favor of easing up on the clutching and grabbing too?

    And by the way, comparing a shootout to settling it with a fight is laughable. A bit too much of a stretch. Strippers are entertaining too, but you wouldn’t consider ending a game with those, becuase it would be illegal to have on the ice – like fighting, which is also illegal on the ice, which is why it results in a penalty. So a bit farfetched as an argument, I think. Is there really anything wrong with the showcase of skills in a shootout?

  4. Making the argument that it would have been more entertaining if Malik had scored that goal in overtime is a deceptive attempt to prove your point with an invalid statement. Malik probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to even try to score in general in overtime, much less have time to decide to use a trick shot like that.

    Were it not for the shootout, you wouldn’t have seen the shot at all. The length of the shootout put a sort of aloofness over the meaning of the game; Malik said “what the hell” and tried the shot. It is extremely unlikely he would have tried it in a regular overtime period, even if given the chance.

    No, I don’t think shootouts should decide playoff hockey games, but regular season games should be. As a matter of fact, I don’t think a team should get one point for losing in overtime or the shootout. Ties are stupid and so are “bouns points” for making it to overtime. Now, I would like to see ten minutes of overtime and a shootout, but that’s not going to happen (players wouldn’t like it, and neither would coaches, league officials, networks, etc). Adding an extra 5 minutes won’t decide a lot of games anyway, and then we would have to deal with the damn ties. There should be a winner, and the shootout is ok to decide it. Don’t like it? Win the game in regulation or the extra period. “It’s not fair” complaints are fairly weak arguments for teams that can’t get it done in a reasonable amount of time.

  5. Ken you make a good point and I agree with you for the most part. I feel that shootouts are good in regular season but should not be factored in post season play…as they probably never will be. In my opinion, the best way the NHL could make the game more exciting for fans and not have to see teams killing time in regulation or overtime so they can get to a shootout is too reward a regulation win with 3 points. Overtime/shootout win with 2 points and an overtime/shootout loss with 1 point. Teams would play much more aggressive and play for the win if 3 points is involved.

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