Mon Nov 16 03:19pm EST
Ari Baum-Cohen of Illegal Curve has an op-ed on Hot Dog Hockey regarding the current state of the shootout, a gimmick whose existence we're obviously on record as loathing. But we're realists, it's here to stay, so why not make the most of its shallow appeal, right?
Baum-Cohen looks at how teams are faring -- the Atlanta Thrashers are 7-1? -- and proposes a few changes that would increase the fun factor in the NHL's shootout, like expanding to five shooters like the AHL has.
Shootouts in many European leagues have three shooters for each team followed by sudden death. Unlike the NHL, after the third shooter the same shooter can shoot as many times as he wants. This format would allow, in a tied shootout, Ovechkin and Crosby to battle until one player scored and one was stopped. It would also prevent a situation where players such as Brad May(notes) and Brooks Orpik(notes) shoot to decide the game.
What's interesting about Baum-Cohen's "let the stars shoot" proposal is that it's going against the grain for shootouts in North American hockey. Before this season, the AHL would allow teams in shootouts that went beyond five skaters to use those same five skaters again in "extra rounds." But the League changed its shootout rules over the summer, ensuring that "no player may shoot twice until all eligible players have gone once," like in the NHL.
(The AHL told us today that the tweak in their shootout format hasn't dramatically altered the length of their overtime sessions, although it's still a small sample on which to judge.)
For entertainment value, does a fan want to see Sidney Crosby(notes) twice or Tyler Kennedy(notes) once? The altruistic format that gets all players involved is attempting to give a shameless exhibition some semblance of competitive fairness. Hell, there might even be more drama to see a player who failed in the first cycle seek redemption in the second five.
If we're going to artificially finish games with skills competitions that are made for tidy conclusions and made-for-TV highlights, then have the best players decide it. Two questions:
1. Pass or Fail: After the initial rounds, the NHL should allow players to have multiple attempts in the shootout at the coaches' discretion and without restrictions.
2. What is your ideal format for the shootout? (Note: "Not having one" is not an acceptable answer.)