It's the best time of year!
One of the hottest topics over the last week or two has been the status of shootouts in the NHL. Should they stay or should they go? We debate it with a point/counterpoint…
Time to eliminate the shootout
By Patrick Hoffman
When the NHL came back from its lockout in the 2005/06 season, the league did many things to help generate more interest for the sport.
One of the additions was the shootout. Fans were sick and tired of seeing games end in a tie and were looking for something to fix that problem. For the league, the shootout was the best solution.
I'll admit that at first, I loved it. In fact, I was at the longest shootout in NHL history back in November of 2005 when New York Rangers defenseman Marek Malik ended it with a nifty between-the-legs shot past Washington Capitals netminder Olaf Kolzig.
However, while I still find it to be exciting after five seasons, I think it's time for the shootout to go. Maybe I'm being selfish because one of the reasons why I want it to go is because of how the Rangers ended their season and playoff hopes this past year: with a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, who as we all know, advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
Hockey is a team game, not an individual sport. Sure, each player has their own skill set but in the end, they mesh them with their teammates to help determine the outcome of a game. In the shootout, it's up to one person to score or make the save.
Secondly, in a case such as the Rangers back in April, it is no way to decide a make-or-break kind of hockey game. Yes, it's exciting but I'm sure teams would rather have the fate in all of their hands rather than just one individual. If you're the Rangers, did you really want Olli Jokinen deciding the fate of your season? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Having a game decided in overtime whether it's 4-on-4, 3-on-3 or 2-on-2 is the way to go. This gives the teams a chance to decide the game for themselves and work together towards a common goal: winning the hockey game.
Obviously, the 4-on-4 method doesn't always lead to an outcome but imagine if the league put it to 3-on-3? That's a lot of open ice and a lot of scoring opportunities for the taking. More importantly, for the fans, it'd be really exciting.
Again folks, I'm not saying that the shootout isn't exciting because believe me, it is. However, since hockey is a team sport, I'd rather see a game decided with more players on the ice rather than just one player and a goaltender.
Keep the ‘skills competition’, but tweak it
By Ryan Porth
Why did the NHL install the shootout? To do away with the ties, which grew more and more unpleasant with the fans before the lockout. So after the work stoppage, the league decided to bring in the shootout to add excitement at the end of a tied game.
In the five years since, the shootout – or what some people refer to as a ‘skills competition’ – has had its up and downs. For the most part, I believe the fans have liked the shootout.
It doesn’t take too much longer after the preceding 65 minutes to complete the shootout; all it takes is a quick scraping of the ice by the zambonis and they are ready to go. The fans all rise to their feet in anticipation, cheer for a save, roar for a goal, and it can be heart-pulsing for some. It’s fun.
Where else do you see the spin-o-rama to fake out the goaltender? Where else do you see a defensive defenseman go between-the-legs for a winner? Where else do you see a one-on-one battle with the game on the line? Any moment in the shootout has the potential to make a fan’s jaw drop. Shootouts do not lack suspense, that’s for sure.
The biggest reason why I like the shootout is because ties are no longer involved. I hated them! However, changes need to be made to make it better.
First of all, I don’t like how there are only three shooters to start… that numbers needs to increase to five. Like Patrick said above, it’s a team game. Adding two more rounds would make teams have to use more shooters to get the win.
Also, they need to adapt a point system that makes overtime/shootouts wins less valuable than regulation victories. Shootouts are nice and all, but this is when the ‘skills competition’ argument comes in. Teams are rewarded equally with a shootout or regulation win, when it shouldn’t be that way.
And, as Patrick said, when it’s a situation where a playoff spot is on the line (i.e. Rangers/Flyers, Game 82), the game shouldn’t be decided by a shootout; instead, a continuous overtime period should commence.
Shootouts aren’t perfect and act as a way to decide a game virtually by default. But I can live with it because it breaks ties, brings suspense, shows off player’s skills, and the fans seem to love it. A few tweaks here and there and it will be a better product for the league.
What do you think the NHL should do about the shootout?? Keep it... tweak it... get rid of it?
Photo credit: Getty Images
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