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.
Not the same treatment as a shootout win.