a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

09/23/11 67.0 Fixing the Shootout

There's been a lot of debate about the shootout since it was introduced. Purists hate it. "It's a team game," they cry from their aged plaid recliners. "It should be decided in overtime or not at all!" Others love the shootout and its excitement. "Penalty shots are hockey's greatest play," is these people's refrain; usually hollering from their skateboards. "The shootout is like a ton of penalty shots! What could be bad?"

The fact is that both of these arguments are true. The shootout really is exciting, and it also keeps us fans from having to endure the worst outcome in any game - the tie. Every time there's a tie, you can't help but feel cheated. What if it's a tie at zero? Thanks to the shootout, you didn't watch 3 hours of men skating around for nothing. There will be an exciting penalty shot derby to decide the winner. Shootouts also keep us from having to stay up all night watching endless playoff-style overtime games. You can have a life outside of hockey; if, for some reason, you wanted one.

But it's also true that a shootout doesn't decide which is the best team in a particular evening, or even in an entire season. Plenty of teams have made the playoffs on the strength of shootout wins, and that doesn't seem right either.

Bob McCown suggested that the NHL go to a different points system; one in which a regulation win would be worth 4 points, an overtime win worth 3 points, a shootout win would be worth 2 points and an overtime or shootout loss being worth 1 each. Needless to say, that would require a complete restructuring of the points system.

Instead, the points could be awarded like this:

2 points for a regulation or overtime win, 1 point for a shootout win or overtime loss, and 0 points for a shootout loss. The 'Shootout Loss' column would be changed to 'Shootout Wins.' A team's record would be Wins-Losses-OT Losses-SO Wins.

Nobody would play just to get to the shootout because to do so would mean sacrificing at least one point and possibly leaving with none. There would be much greater importance placed on winning the game in regulation or overtime, while still allowing for the excitement of the shootout without rewarding it too much.

Teams that can get it done in regulation would always have the best records, while shootout teams - like the Oilers were a few years ago - wouldn't have ridiculously inflated records.

Everybody happy?

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