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Should Games Be Decided By Shootout?

Posted By Michael Waterloo On Oct 13 2011 @ 3:35 pm In NHL | No Comments

First off, let me say that as a sports fan, I love the shootout.  I like the excitement of the one-on-one competition and the atmosphere it creates.  However, as a hockey fan, it just doesn’t make that much sense to me.  After the NHL lockout of 2004-2005, the league adopted the shootout to determine the winner of the game should the score remain tied after regulation and one overtime period.  The NHL first experimented with the shootout in the 2003 All-Star game after the game was at a 5-5 tie.

When I think about the shootout deciding games, I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder how it makes sense.  People for the shootout will say that the NHL needed to win some fans over and the shootout helps create that excitement.  However, deciding a regular season game with a one-on-one skill competition doesn’t do the sport justice.  The MLB, NFL, and NBA, hockey’s biggest competition, don’t have these rules.  Baseball and basketball you play until there is a winner.  In the playoffs, hockey is the same way.  Who can forget Brett Hull’s famous goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals against the Buffalo Sabres that won Hull’s Dallas Stars the Stanley Cup?  No shootout was needed to add excitement to that game.  The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in game 4 of last year’s playoffs thanks to James Neal in Double Overtime which was an amazing game for hockey fans to watch.

My argument is that it doesn’t make that much sense.  Hockey is a team game and should be decided by the team as a whole.  Not whether or not Miikka Kiprusoff is able to stop Alexander Ovechkin or Brad Richards on a breakaway attempt.  The NHL is looked at as the fourth major sport in our country and is looking for ways to compete with the other three major ones that I have listed above.  What if those other sports adopted a similar approach to decide the games that the NHL does?  In the NBA, it would come down to a one-on-one game to five or a slam dunk contest if the game is tied after one overtime period.  In baseball, they would grab their best sluggers for a home run contest if the game was tied after 10 innings.  For football, the equivalent to a shootout would be seeing how far your quarterback can throw the ball or dare I say a field goal kicking contest?

What’s wrong with just letting the game end in a tie?  With the shootout, the scoring column now has a fourth column (Wins, Losses, Shootout Wins, and Shootout Losses).  If the NFL, the most profitable sport in America can end in a tie, why can’t the NHL?  If you don’t want the game to end in a tie, then make it like the playoffs and have them play continuously until there is a decided winner.  The shootout is exciting to watch, but to allow a meaningful game and a team’s chance of making the playoffs to hinge on if a goalie can stop a breakaway doesn’t do justice to the game.

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