Here's why NHL should consider eliminating shootouts, changing rules


Here's why NHL should consider eliminating shootouts, changing rules

In NHL history, four of the top 10 shootout contestant teams (Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes) come from the Pacific Division.

This always has decided and clouded where the Sharks finish in the standings, even though San Jose doesn’t regularly find themselves in shootouts nearly as much (ranked 19th all time with three shootouts this year and 13 total attempts against). Other teams, however, are getting those extra points via skills competitions instead of real wins. 
It’s not affecting the Sharks this season for obvious reasons, but it does have the Pacific Division stacked tight once again. 

The novelty might have run its course

The NHL might have needed the shootout when introduced back in 2005. This was on the heels of missing an entire season due to the lockout, and a way to appease fans who didn’t approve of ties as a final result. Shootouts back then were flashy, new to the league and capable of starring on the nightly highlight shows.

Nearly 15 years later, does anyone still feel excited or intrigued by them?

Important team results are being decided by individual skill competitions

We know how tight the standings will get by April, where every single point gained or lost matters drastically. And when you consider the NHL’s current parity, should a 6-0 drubbing count for the same two points as winning a three-round shootout? Should an entire hockey team really leave the rink feeling like they won or lost on a given night, because a 1-on-1 battle (with no defender) was the ultimate decider?

All wins (and losses, for that matter) are not created equal and should not be rewarded as such.

Have you seen what 3-on-3 hockey looks like?

It’s competitive, fast paced, exciting … and usually ends the game in a relative team fashion. I’d propose having two five-minute overtime periods, rather than just the one right now. Some players already find 3-on-3 “gimmicky," but it resembles team hockey with strategy and elements far more than a shootout does.

Coaches would have to employ a little more restraint as it relates to shortening the bench, but all of that adds to the gamesmanship.

Are you not entertained? 

If entertainment value is part of the shootout equation, then why prevent the most thrilling potentials? Why not allow the same shooter attempts in sequential rounds (as the Olympics do)? Why not let the opponents pick your shooters? Or, why ban a move like the “spinorama” as the NHL did in 2014?

The avoidance of gimmicks is understandable, but if you’re going to commit to entertain, then it’s time to add some spice.

The final point(s)

If there’s no logistical way to eliminate the shootout, then the NHL could easily alter its points system around it. Three points could be earned in a regulation win, and zero for a loss. If the game goes past 60 minutes, the winning team receives two points, and the loser earns one. That way precisely three points are distributed after every game -- overtime or not, and the regulation win earns the full value it deserves.

[RELATED: How Sharks improved after making Boughner interim coach]

Not the same treatment as a shootout win.

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Mario Ferraro has surpassed the wildest of expectations in his rookie season with the Sharks, and it hasn't exactly been an uneventful one.

Since making the jump straight from college to the pros, the 21-year-old defenseman has witnessed a mid-season coaching change, the acquisition and eventual trading of a franchise legend, a seemingly endless string of serious injuries to roster cornerstones and -- oh yeah -- an indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Not exactly your average rookie year.

Technically, Ferraro's rookie season hasn't come to an end -- at least not yet. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that there currently is too much uncertainty for the league to be able to determine when the season might be able to resume, though he hopes to "know more by the end of April." In any case, even if San Jose was able to play out its remaining games, there are only 12 left. Considering the Sharks fell to the absolute bottom of the NHL standings right before the season was paused, an additional playoff run is entirely out of the question.

So, for all intents and purposes, we can't really consider Ferraro a rookie anymore. He has 61 career NHL games under his belt, so, really, that has been the case for a while.

Ferraro flew back to Toronto shortly before the Bay Area's shelter-in-place orders went into effect, and has been doing his best to stay in shape while living at his parents' house. In a recent discussion with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil, he described an important lesson that was crucial to his development as a rookie.

"I think one small thing that's actually not small at all when you really look at it," Ferraro said, "is just preparation and that mentality of staying even-keel the whole year. What I mean by that is not getting too high on the highs or too low on the lows. You have so many games and so many important games that if you have a good game one night, you better forget about it because you gotta do the same thing the next night. Or, vice versa, if you play poorly, you really gotta forget about it and bounce back strong.

"And it's not just from game to game -- it's from shift to shift. You're playing in a league that has really fast players, strong players. You can get exposed, and it's going to happen. People are going to make mistakes. I'm a defenseman, so I feel like you're more bound to make mistakes ... they're more glaringly obvious. From a mental perspective, you really have to learn to just kind of say, OK, it happened. Move on. Let's get back to my game and play hard."

While Ferraro is correct that no player is exempt from making mistakes, he didn't have too many glaring errors throughout his first season in the NHL -- or at least, he did a good job covering them up. He earned the trust of the coaching staff and was rewarded with additional opportunities, which he proved capable of handling. Over the last eight games before the season was paused, Ferraro averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per night.

[RELATED: Leonard reunited with college roommate Ferraro on Sharks]

In terms of mentors on the team, Ferraro specifically mentioned fellow defenseman Brent Burns as someone who has been tremendously helpful to him. And like seemingly everyone else in that locker room, Ferraro is a big fan of Joe Thornton. But ultimately, it has been a team effort in supporting Ferraro throughout his rookie year. It takes a village, after all.

"Nobody's counted out on this team," Ferraro explained. "They're all great guys. They've all taught me a ton this year, and we're really close. It has been a good learning curve for me."

While we're all focused on flattening the curve, it has long been evident that -- as a rookie -- Ferraro's wasn't very steep.

Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart


Gary Bettman says NHL examining 'all options' for coronavirus restart

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday there is too much uncertainty for the league to determine a target date to return amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and that they hope to "know more by the end of April."

“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options," Bettman told NBC Sports' Mike Tirico on "Lunch Talk Live" on Tuesday (via Pro Hockey Talk). "We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light -- and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can.

"We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”

The NHL suspended its season on March 12, a day after the NBA did the same following Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test. Eight NHL players -- three on the Colorado Avalanche and five on the Ottawa Senators -- have tested positive.

[RELATED: Matthews, Marner detail how bromance with Marleau began]

Bettman said reports of the NHL looking into playing the remainder of its season at neutral sites -- including North Dakota, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman -- reflected how "extraordinarily competitive" the teams were as they tried to ensure a fair finish to the regular season. The commissioner said the "best thing" for the NHL would be to finish the season as they normally do, but Bettman said the league understands that might not be possible.

"[That’s] why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is," Bettman said. "Again, it doesn’t even pay to speculate because nobody in any of the sports knows enough now to make those profound decisions.”