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Calling (again) for an end to overtime and the shootout

Back in March, I posted a column on my desire to see the NHL go back in time.  Specifically, I mentioned at the time that I was strongly of the view that, if it ever had its place, the time for— and usefulness of—regular season overtime had long lapsed.

I may be alone on this one, and I’m certainly open to opposing points of view.  But I just can’t abide much more in the way of these extra  points.

Now, where I look at this issue probably very differently from a lot of fellow fans and commentators is that my problem is not with the so-called “loser point”.  I actually flip that around and my problem is with giving the so-called “winner” a phony extra point in overtime— and especially the shootout.

Why should two teams fight through 60 minutes—which has been the length of a hockey game for as long as almost anyone can remember— and then have the game decided by a quirky four-on-four format, or worse, a one-on-one skills competition on bad ice?

I realize that back in the 1930s and maybe even into the '40s the NHL had regular-season overtime.  But in the golden era of the game, from the 1950s through the 1970s, it did not.  And didn't need it.

I don’t know if this point of view makes me a traditionalist, or maybe simply out of touch, but I was, and still am, more than fine with the old-fashioned regular-season “tie”.  Two teams play through regular time, and if the game is tied, then to me, that’s how it should end.  Everyone goes home.  Both teams get what they deserve—a point.

Is some entertainment value lost if we get rid of overtime and the shootout?  Well, the competition should be good enough that when the high-paying customer goes to a game, he/she gets their value during the game itself, whether the game finishes 4-2 or 5-5 or 1-0.

Playoffs is a whole different matter.  I would never change overtime in the playoffs.  That, too, is a tradition of the game, and as a rarity (especially if we get rid of regular-season overtime) overtime is absolutely special.  I don’t care if it goes into five overtimes, like, the Islander/Washington Lafontaine winner back in the ‘80s, was it?  I’m good with that.

But please never, ever end a playoff game (like soccer does— wrongly) in a penalty shot or "shootout" situation.

Keep the playoffs exactly as they are.

But as for the regular season, wouldn’t you like to wake up in the morning, read the newspaper sports section or go online and not have to rub your eyes and try to dissect the NHL standings?  We could go back to wins, losses, ties.  Full stop.

We wouldn’t see mediocre teams with 90 points, nor would it be commonplace any longer for teams to reach 100 points in the standings.

100 points would mean something again.  Very, very few teams would even get there.  So would statistics—especially goals-against and individual goals scored— without all those unnecessary regular-season overtime goals (Can you imagine how many more goals players like Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Phil Esposito and Bobby Hull would have had with overtime?)

But at the end of the day, I’m just tired of regular-season season overtime. Is anyone else?


  1. I don't know; I mean its entertainment, right? I don't mind the shoot outs even though I hated them when they first came up with the solution (I also disliked the 4 on 4 OT since hockey to me is always really 5on5). As time has passed, I warmed up to the SO. I look at it in a simple way, 3 ways for my team to win a game - either traditionally, in OT or via a shoot out where anything goes.
    I guess if I have any objection, its handing out a point for a loss. Either have the scoring system simple, 2 points for a win and 0 for a loss or 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for OT or SO win, and one point for the loser... sill handing out a point for losing though which is pretty dumb still.

  2. A. Donnybrook...thanks for your comments. We all have our points of view and I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" one.

    I guess where I look at things a bit differently is I don't mind a tie at all. And I don't like the idea of teams, in the regular season, working for 60 minutes on the road, say, to get a point, then they get nothing if they lose in a shootout or an artifical four-on-four situation. For me, it's giving a free point (to the team that wins in OT or shootout) to a team that doesn't really deserve it.