The NHL’s general managers are on vacation playing golf attempting not to giggle when passing Garth Snow in the hallway having their meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. through Wednesday, with one major topic on the agenda: overtime and minimizing the shootout.
Of the 967 games played in the 2013-14 regular season through Sunday, 122 have been decided in a shootout. That’s 12.6 percent of the regular season ending in a skills competition, which is actually down from the average since the shootout began in 2005-06: 13.3 percent of all regular-season games.
The momentum has been building to do something to reduce the number of shootout games.
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s 4-on-4 then 3-on-3 OT format may be the most radical, which is why it probably won’t be ratified without a season or two of lab-ratting in the AHL. (The Southern Professional Hockey League, by the way, has both 3-on-3 OT and a female goalie. Your move, NHL.)
Another option is to bump up the overtime to something north of five minutes, increasing the chances that a shootout would be averted as two exhausted teams get all sorts of sloppy. (Because, you know, exhaustion leads to so many goals in those multi-overtime playoff games we love so bad.)
Either of these options would be an improvement over the current format, but both would require a leap of faith by general managers that rarely take one that isn’t instigated by a catastrophic injury or a work stoppage.
So then, perhaps, we get a baby step for overtime instead.
In November, the New Jersey Devils’ Lou Lamoriello proposed the simplest tweak (and the one most likely to be adopted) – that teams switch ends for overtime, so that they are required to make the longer, more challenging on the-fly-line changes using four skaters apiece. Theoretically, such a change could create more confusion on the benches, more open ice in overtime and thus more scoring.
Glancing at the scoring totals for the second period of games this season … yeah, it makes a difference.
So while we have visions of 3-on-3 OT dancing in our heads, this is probably the likeliest result from the GM’s confab on overtime.