The shootout was introduced in the wake of the 2004-05 NHL lockout to enhance excitement and bring fans back to the game. But after eight years, the novelty has worn off. Shootouts are simply not indicative of the better team and they play too great a role in the standings each season.
You may be surprised to learn that over 13% of all NHL games go to a shootout. Although fans don’t want to see games end in a tie, the league should implement new rules to make the shootout more difficult to get to and shootout wins should not earn a team as many points as a regulation win.
The current points system also impacts the quality of play late in tie games, as teams often play defensively down the stretch to maintain the tie score and ensure they earn at least a point. Why not change the rules to incent teams to play more aggressively late in regulation? This would enhance scoring late in regulation and in overtime and make the game more exciting for fans.
We have two suggestions to fix the current overtime system:
1. Make regulation and overtime wins worth 3 points, shootout wins worth 2, and overtime/shootout losses worth 1 point. This would give teams more incentive to win during regulation, instead of playing passively to get to overtime and earn a single point.
2. Our favorite—and the most radical suggestion—was made by Detroit GM Ken Holland: after the first 5 minute 4-on-4 period, play an additional 5-minute session at 3-on-3. If neither team scores, then go to a shootout. Playing 3-on-3 would result in several odd-man rushes and provide fans with breakneck end-to-end play.
Changes must be made to ensure shootouts are used more sparingly and to lessen the impact they have on the playoff race. These suggestions would lead to faster conclusions to games, while maintaining the fundamental aspects of the sport.