Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shutting out the shootout

Eric Duhatschek calls for the end of the shootout and posits a solution to the NHL's unbalanced standings that I can definitely get behind:
Extend four-on-four overtime to 10 minutes (it wouldn’t take much longer to play an extra five minutes of OT compared to running a shootout anyway). If you win, you get two points; if you lose, you get none — and if the game happened to end in a tie anyway after 10 minutes, so be it, one point goes to each team. That way, every game is worth the same number of points (two); the possibility of a tie exists (but it’s remote, in the same way that the possibility of a tie exists in NFL football but rarely actually occurs) and if you lost, you at least lost in a reasonable facsimile of hockey (four-on-four play as opposed to a penalty-shot contest). But the best news of all is we could consign the shootout to the NHL scrapheap, as an idea whose time came and went in an awful hurry.
Personally, I never found ties all that horrible, but it was the fact some teams were piling up as many as 20 of them in a season that was really troubling. A 10-minute overtime seems a great way to limit the number of ties, fix the league's standings and get rid of the shootout.

Not that it'll happen anytime soon.



At 1:11 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

Get rid of 4-on-4 altogether and get rid of shootouts.

Add 5 feet of ice to all 4 sides of the rink to open up shooting lanes, and play 20 minute overtime periods until someone scores.

At 1:37 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

The shootout is very much a BETTMAN item, which means it's not going away any day soon. Extending OT to 10 minutes would likely result in many more true OT winners, but it's still not as good as just putting in a 3-point system.

At 1:57 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Duhatschek is my hero. The shootout is a horrible way to win or lose a game. I keep hearing everyone say they will never get rid of the shootout because the fans love it. Hog wash. The reason shootouts are entertaining is the anticipation of winning and the anxiety of losing. Yeah, there are some skilled saves and goals but no one would pay just to see a shootout.

As for ties, I don't have a problem with them. I don't understand why anyone does. But hey, since the game is ties lets do a test and see how exciting shootouts really are. Any games that end in a tie each team will get a single point. Now, just for fun and to make those fans that hate ties feel better lets have a shootout. Teams won't get an extra point or anything, it's just for fun. How many of the 18,000 fans do you all think will stay and watch the shoot out?

At 2:02 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Bad idea. I hate the 3 point game, but I hate boring hockey more. Ten minute OTs equals ten minutes of snoozeville, especilly when there is zero incentive to win. Four on four, five minutes. Shootout afterwards, for all the marbles. Two or zero.

At 2:52 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger BlackCapricorn said...

I really like the shootout and the finality of thing because of it. And a 10 minute OT does not mean anything. PItts vs. the Flyers took 5 overtimes to decide...

At 3:25 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger PDO said...

Here's the SO:

It can be fun to watch if I'm watching two teams play and don't care about the outcome.

That's it. That's the only time I've ever enjoyed it. Every other time I hate it and find it to be the dumbest possible idea.

What's so bad about ties anyway?

At 3:49 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger rob said...

agree w/ PDO above. I don't like the shootouts at all. As a Buffalo fan, I'll admit to enjoying a shootout if it's between say Columbus and Chicago. meaningless outcome to me on a fan level.

Even as a Sabres fan, when/if they (usually) win the shootout, it still feels hollow. There's absolutely no comparing the joy of watching Briere roof a shot top shelf in OT as opposed to a Ryan Miller save to end the game. guh.

I agree completely with the Hat, but - and no disrespect to him whatsoever - it's not exactly an original idea going to a 10 minute overtime. I know I've personally lobbied for it (to nobody in particular outside of my humble group of friends/collegues, of course!) since the inception of overtime over 20 years ago, and have heard it many times over the ensuing years. I can understand the need to end overtime at some point for regular season games - travel, endless scheduling, etc. Yet a mere 10 minutes seems like such a small extra sacrifice to make to potentially end a game in an official manner.

Having said all that it's here, the shootout will never go away. I would be more than willing to accept a compromise: we can keep the shootout while making OT 10 minutes. Everyone wins. (literally)

At 3:49 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Wasn't the whole problem with ties in the first place was that teams entered into an unspoken gentleman's agreement during overtime? That is, "You don't try too hard to score on us, we won't try too hard to score on you, and we'll both walk away with a point."

So it wasn't so much the tie itself that was the problem, just the plodding waste of time that overtime had become.

That's why they made losing in OT worth one point, so teams had every reason to cut loose in OT and try to win.

How about making ties worth -1 points? :-) How about, if no one scores in OT, then whichever team registered more shots in OT gets the win? :-)

At 3:54 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I'm all for the elimination of shootouts, but can we keep them around only for Dallas-Minnesota games?

Not only are those two of the best shootout teams in the business, but also manage to play some of the dullest regulation play I've seen in a while.

In those matchups, let's drop regulation and just skip to the good stuff.

At 4:28 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger Mark said...

What's the *real* problem with the 3/2/1/0 scenario? Is it that it messes up the record books since regulation wins have always been worth 2 points? The NHL honchos just dismiss it without giving any reasons, in the articles I've read. Anyway, that's what I'd like to see. Each game should absolutely be worth the same number of points. If I had the power to negotiate, that would be non-negotiable to me. I could accept a lot of other scenarios like shootout/no shootout, ties/no ties, but the current situation is ridiculous since it makes some games worth more than others, and there is the possibility of exploiting the system (conspiring to split OTLs in home and home series) to the detriment of other teams, while both playing .750 hockey and keeping ahead of the playoff pace.

At 4:33 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

99% of the people who watch hockey games love the shootout. That's why everyone is on their feet. It's only those who enjoy incessant NHL-bashing that deplore the shootout. If Bettman eliminated the shootout, these poeple would just whine about something else. The problem is with you, not the game.

At 5:13 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous ken said...


Did you initially type in your name, and then chicken out before submitting? Or had you decided to post an insult anonymously all along?

Just curious.

On to your point, you're undoubtedly accurate with some people. Others, however, may sincerely dislike the shootout, just like some people dislike onions on their pizza. Personally I don't care either way (about shootout or onions).

At 5:28 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous Dennis Prouse said...

The shootout, while unpopular with us purists, is gold with young and casual fans. (My ten year old son, for example, who is a player and a huge fan, absolutely loves it.) Therefore, it's staying, whether we like it or not. The only reason why they don't extend it to playoffs is that they know we would storm the league office with pitchforks and torches. :-)

At 5:48 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger John Fischer said...

I actually like the shootout because it does yield a final result. Let's face it, I do not want to watch 65-70 mintues of two teams who don't want to take the lead and win. More to the point, I'm not going to be paying quite a bit of money to go to games in Newark next season to see teams try and turtle against NJ to salvage one point. With the shootout, there is a winner and a loser in every game; and I don't see why ties should be brought back. No, I will not accept "because it's how the NHL did it for X years" as an answer to that.

In a perfect world, the NHL would play continual overtimes like the NBA until someone wins; but for a whole host of reasons it's not practical and quite a daft idea. The shootout is the closest way to ensure that all games have a final result instead of a tie.

At 8:47 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger JavaGeek said...

If there are currently 50% OT ties, then there would be 25% OT ties under these new rules... "but it’s remote, in the same way that the possibility of a tie exists in NFL football but rarely actually occurs" [There were 0 NFL ties in 256 games..]

It appears like the guy said: well 5 min OT = 50% no tie, 10 min OT = 100% no tie, by that logic 15 min = 150% no tie...

At 8:50 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous Rob Visconti said...

The shootout is ridiculous. Anything that leads to its demise is OK in my book. And the sooner, the better.

At 9:05 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

I actually like the shootout because it does yield a final result. Let's face it, I do not want to watch 65-70 mintues of two teams who don't want to take the lead and win.

Of course, the current system doesn't cure the problem of teams not trying to win; it just changes when they do it. Now, instead of making for a boring OT, you see teams doing everything they can to avoid being scored on in the last 10 minutes of regulation, to make sure that they get that first point. You also inferior teams play boring in OT anyway, since they'll have a better chance in the shootout than they do actually playing hockey.

There is no way to prevent the occurence of teams playing simply not to lose than to win except for infinite OTs to determine a winner. Since this is not feasible in the NHL, it is an insoluble problem. Justify the shootout if you must, but find something else, because this argument holds no water.

At 9:41 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous SabreMark said...

This whole idea is stupid, because the shootout isn't going anywhere. Anyone who is been in an NHL barn while a shootout is happening knows that 99% of the fans love it, and the 1% (who seem to dominate here) don't turn their TVs off when it's on.

And can someone please tell me when was the last time the NHL, or any other league for that matter, adopted a major proposal from some sportswriter?

At 9:53 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Ties are horrible. I can't believe anybody would defend them. At issue is how to prevent them or break them.
Three points for a regulation win and a 2-1 split for an extra-time game would mean all games are three pointers and there would be a huge incentive to win in the first 60 minutes. The alternative is two points for a win at any time and zero points for a tie, errrr, extra-time loss. A team that never beats anybody shouldn't have even the theoretical possibility of an 82-point season. It should have zero points.
Oh, and why 4x4 isn't adopted for the entire game is beyond me. It's so obviously more entertaining than 5x5 that only the NHL could experiment with it for 10 years and not realize it's the solution to half of what ails the league. Instead, we get a carnival game deciding who wins and lose. Next year: Wack-A-Mole.

At 10:35 p.m., February 22, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Ties are horrible. I can't believe anybody would defend them.

Hey, there are nights when both teams play just as well as each other. Forcing a result misrepresents what actually happened.

This also seems to be just a North American thing. Not only are there plenty of ties in soccer, but in cricket, playing for a draw is a perfectly respectable tactic in test matches. Admittedly, in cricket, a draw and a tie aren't the same thing, but the principle holds.

At 11:59 p.m., February 22, 2007, Anonymous Nick said...

I have a problem with rewarding failure. If you lose at any point in the game you shouldn't be awarded anything. Also, I don't find 4 on 4 all that exciting. I certainly don't think it is "the solution". Besides, the NHLPA would never agree to eliminating that many jobs.

At 5:03 a.m., February 23, 2007, Anonymous jeff adams#2 said...

to whom it may concern,

this solution has the ability to reward merit for a regular seasom nhl game fairly, for all parties involved.

win in regulation time
= 2 points

win in 10 minute 4 on 4 overtime
= 2 points

win in 5 player shootout
= 1 point for each team
= tie breaker for team catagory

. 2 points are rewarded for every game

. there is a defined amount of time in which a team must outscore there opponent to earn two points

. point spread distrobuted evenly between teams

. periods and overtime are played for the reward of strength in the final standings

use this next year if all parties agree.

jeff adams#2

At 6:06 a.m., February 23, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Maybe my issue with the shootout isn't its decisiveness, but rather the way it cheapens what was formerly known as "the most exciting play in hockey"--the penalty shot. They turned a rarity into a game show, of sorts.

Maybe I would have less issue if it were more hockey-related, in the sense that it is something of a team aspect and something I see more often within the context of an NHL game.

Just throwing an idea out there, but why not just exchange 1-minute power plays until one team scores? Teams work on power plays and penalty killing all the time, and generally those attributes correspond with good and winning teams.

I'd find that more interesting than a shootout, at least.

At 8:52 a.m., February 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shootouts are a gimmick to ensure a win (of sorts), but having too many of them makes them boring. To be exciting, they should happen less often.

The problem is that defense and conservative hockey will dominate as long as it is an advantage to play safely and go for a point instead of a win. This will not change, because coaches will do what is necessary to stay employed. You need to change the environment to force each team to try for a win near the end of the tie games to make exciting hockey. Indefinite overtimes will not work in the regular season, as not only do the teams need to travel to their next games, but multi-use arenas need to be readied for a basketball game the evening after a matinee hockey game, for example.

So, how about:
No shootout, or even overtime--save that for the playoffs.

Each team receives one point after a regulation tie.

The team that can actually win a game in regulation receives three points, while the loser gets zero.

I don't see any real difference between conjuring an extra third point in some games to reward a team that wins in regulation time and giving a point to the loser. And imagine the last ten minutes or so of a tie game if the winner can pick up three points, and the loser gets nothing.

At 3:11 p.m., February 23, 2007, Anonymous hockeytowntodd (gramps) said...

10 minutes of 4 on 4 should have been the rule from the start. The problem with 5 minutes is you only see the same 7 players for the 5 minutes and the rest of the bench might as well go to the dressing room.
Ties: award no points, just give a point for a win and that is that. No points awarded and neither team is willing to play for a tie. You will see some great hockey that way in the regular season.
Scrap the shootouts, you want to excite the fans, have a doorprize drawing.

At 5:44 p.m., February 23, 2007, Anonymous Lammy said...

If the main concern here is to make the game more exciting, switch to 3-2-1-0. I think that teams would really go for it in the last 5 minutes of regulation, and again in OT, especially in the last quarter of the season when playoff berths/seeding are at stake.

To me, hockey is a team sport, so I hate the shootout. If we're gonna keep it, let's at least make it relevant and/or logical.

Ideally, I would scrap OT as well, as the last 5 minutes of regulation would provide the needed excitement factor for fans. Games/the season are already long enough as it is.

At 5:45 a.m., February 24, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

I'm telling ya, play OT without goalies. It's more team oriented than the embarassment that is the shootout and games will never end in a tie.
I wrote more about it on my own blog already, so i won't repeat my own rant here.

I'm 95% serious though with that suggestion.

At 6:05 p.m., February 25, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Take the goalies out, and turn the nets around so you have to bank the puck off the back boards in order to score.


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