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Leafs beat Montreal in a shootout—but it’s time get rid of overtime in the regular season

Sure it was a fun night of hockey but I’ve said many times that these games are essentially meaningless. The Leafs are playing with zero pressure, other than the normal pressure to compete and supposedly “auditioning” for jobs for next year—though everyone knows the same competition begins in September.

I gave my thoughts on the roster yesterday—grading guys based on their actual play, and also against my early-season expectations. We know Kulemin, Bozak and Kessel will likely start as a line next season, and the defense is set (depending on Kaberle), as is the goaltending.

The truth is, as much fun as the Montreal game was for Leaf fans, it was way more fun for Hab fans, even though they lost. Why? The Habs are going to the playoffs, they’re fighting for a high playoff seed while the Leafs are playing for the last refuge of the non-playoff NHL’er: pride—which is something they always play for, anyway.

But there’s something else I wanted to address, beyond thinking ahead hopefully to next season: it’s time to get rid of overtime.

Is it entertaining? Yes, sometimes. The shootout is neat, I guess, if you like having dunk contests decide game outcomes.

It’s gotten old. Every night we have shootouts. It’s not fun. It’s not new. It’s a worn gimmick.

It’s time to make a tie a tie again. Neither team “deserved” to win that game last night. A tie was an absolutely acceptable and fair outcome.

Instead, for the umpteenth time since the lockout, we had a team walk away with a point based on an entertaining but silly concept—the shootout.

I know the league and most fans don’t want to go back in time. I do. Let’s get rid of these extra points. Only then will NHL standings make sense to me again. And getting 90 or 100 points in a season will actually mean something.

For the record, I also don’t favor the notion of continuing with overtime, but denying the “losing” team a point. That, to me, makes no sense either. Hockey has always been, in the regular-season, a 60-minute game. If a team earns a tie for 60 minutes, they deserve a point. You don’t take away a hard-earned point—you eliminate the “extra” point that is given gratuitously based on an outdated concept.

The game now is good enough. We don’t need gimmicks anymore.

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