What’s Wrong With The NHL? Shootouts Must Go, And A New Point System Is Needed

A 3-on-0 in NHL overtime action

In the previous article, we discussed the idea that Canadian NHL teams seem to be in the low rent district of the NHL. There are a number of other improvements to the NHL that I would like to present to you for consideration. So here goes…..

All Games are NOT equal in Value in the NHL

I am starting with one of the easier problems to resolve in the NHL. If a team wins an NHL regular season game they are awarded 2 points in the standings. But if a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams play a five minute overtime and if still tied there is a shootout. In either case, the winning team gets 2 points while the losing team gets 1 point. Therefore, the game has awarded 3 points. That makes the basic value of the overtime game 50% more than a game won in regulation.

So what’s wrong with this concept. It leads to teams playing for a tie. You will frequently see teams in a tied game heading into the final minutes of the third period, playing a very cautious game, to ensure they get into overtime, where they are assured at least a point.

By the way, I am not against the overtime format of 3 skaters and a goalie for each team. It is truly exciting hockey. All I am saying is this:

A regulation win should be 3 points for the winning team. This will encourage teams to fight to the bitter end of regulation to get the extra point.

  • 2-points will be awarded to the winning team in overtime
  • 1-point awarded for the losing team in overtime.
  • 0-points for the losing team in regulation.

This concept has been embraced by the IIHF. So the World Junior Championships, the World Cup of Hockey, the Olympics and son on use this method. It would be easy to implement.

Shootouts aren’t Hockey to Hockey Fans

While we are on the subject of overtime, which everyone loves, the shootout portion of overtime seems to many loyal hockey fans, like a bizarre event. Yes, it is something like hockey, but hockey is a team game. Penalty shots seem like an odd way to end a game. If you like the shootouts, perhaps I could suggest some other peculiar ways to end the game:

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(i) Each goalie takes a turn taking a penalty shot on the opposite goalie until a winner is determined.

(ii) A relay race around the rink with 4 skaters from each team. Fastest team around the rink, while controlling the puck, wins.

(iii) Each team selects a combatant to fight at centre ice. The fans can vote for who won the fight, and that determines the winner.

(iv) Each team selects a player to operate the Zamboni machine to resurface their end of the rink. The team that resurfaces the ice quickest, wins!

I know what you’re thinking. These ideas are all gimmicky. Well, so is the current shootout!

A Solution to this Problem Worthy of Consideration

(a) The game ends in a tie and each team is awarded one point. I know, this contradicts what I said in the first segment of this article, but it could work

(b) Leave the current 5 minute overtime as is. It’s fun, it’s exciting. If its still tied after five minutes, each team must pull their goalie. That’s right! Three skaters and no goalie for each team until one team scores, with some conditions:

  • The attacking team must score from within the opponents blue line. That is to say, the attacking team must have successfully entered the offensive zone. So you can’t ice the puck into an empty net. If you do, it is simply an icing call.
  • (ii) There is no time limit on this, because how long will it take to get a shot on met?

This strikes me as being a lot more like hockey than the current shootout. But, maybe you have some creative ideas to settle overtimes in an efficient and exciting manner. Why don’t you share them with us!


By Garth Vanstone

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