Everything Else

Friday Grinds My Gears

The NHL always has an annoying, league-wide storyline going. Sometimes it’s head shots. Others it’s hits from behind. Sometimes it’s concussion protocol, or goalie gear, or TV show overdose, whatever.

But the one that’s annoying me the most right now, and has for a long, long time, is the uproar over how many games are going to shootouts. Add to that the silly OT proposals to try and remedy this, and I’m about ready to put on an Argonauts jersey and talking about oral sex (too soon?).

You know the problem. This season, the amount of games going to a shootout has risen, and it’s getting ridiculous. So the solutions have been thrown around. 3-on-3 in OT after 4-on-4, which sounds only slightly less gimmicky than the shootout. Have the teams switch ends for the long change. Whatever else.

It’s all stupid. Just end the fucking thing in a tie.


It’s at this time that I should remind everyone that ties were a part of the NHL for 85 years. Games ending in ties were not the reason that it was always very much the 4th sport of the four major sports.

Why did the NHL go to a shootout? One, it was a ploy after the 2nd Bettman Lockout to bring the fans back. It was a “sale.” It was a stunt. It was the free spa pass with a test drive. It wasn’t really installed to solve anything.

Remember, the NHL had adopted the point-for-overtime before the shootout. Too many teams got way too conservative in overtime and held out for their point instead of risking getting nothing by going for a second. So the NHL gave teams each a point if on level terms after 60 and hoped they would go for it with nothing to really lose in OT. The shootout came later.

The argument that you don’t know how to feel after a tie and thus will leave the stadium unfulfilled is pretty much bullshit. Say the Hawks score in the last minute to tie a game in regulation. Game ends 3-3. You’d still walk out exhilarated because the Hawks pulled out a point when they looked sure to lose. And vice versa, if the Hawks let a team back into it in the last throws of regulation or let some horrible team hang around and scrap out a point, you’d walk out disappointed just as if they’d lost in a shootout. Same thing.

If you get an action-packed game with chances, hits, big saves, and a couple of breathtaking goals and back and forth, very few people would say they didn’t get their money’s worth if it ended in a tie. Consequently, a dogshit 1-1 sludge-fest with very few chances or anything happening doesn’t suddenly become a contact high because it ends in a home run derby that arbitrarily gives you a winner. It’s about all of it.

Even MLS, which did lose some traction admittedly this past season in viewership and attendance, figured out it could have ties and no one would swear off the game.

I know the old problem arises without the shootout too. You could still have three point games, and if you got rid of the loser point you’d have teams seriously bunker it in during OT to save a point.

Simple solution: Three points for a win and one for a tie. Gaining two more points instead of one would entice at least some coaches to go for it. Gaining two points is worth losing one, at least to some. If a coach held out for one point regularly instead of going for three he would face quite the scrutiny from fans and the GM alike.

It’s so simple. Which is why it will never happen.

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