What is the future of the shootout in the NHL?

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By TJ Kulfan, Divine Child HS, Dearborn, Mich.

It’s one of the hottest debated topics for hockey fans today: What is the future of the shootout? A shootout in hockey is simply a one-on-one between a skater and a goaltender from opposing teams. There are three rounds, and if there isn’t a clear winner after those three rounds, there will be sudden death rounds following until there is a victor. A shootout only occurs after a tie concluding a 60-minute regulation game, and a 5-minute “4-on-4” overtime. There is little debate that the shootout is an entertaining aspect of the sport, but some analysts and front office executives think that a shootout is an improper way of ending a game.

There is little debate that the shootout is an entertaining aspect of the sport, but some analysts and front office executives think that a shootout is an improper way of ending a game.”

Shootouts decrease the integrity of hockey. Yes, they are a fantastic display for fans to see the amazing skill of these professionals, but it takes away one of the most important things in hockey, the team. In shootouts, the better team doesn’t always come out on top, the team with the better skill players win. It is practically a skills competition where the winner gets a crucial one point in the standings.

Jimmy Howard, the starting goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, in my opinion, said it best when he said, “You have to be comfortable with them (shootouts).” That’s something that the Red Wings are not comfortable with, shootouts. They currently sit 0-3 in shootouts with just one goal on 8 total shots. That is 3 total points they missed out on so far, simply because they aren’t good at shootouts, but they were good enough to play 65 minutes of competitive hockey to get to that point. If you add those three points right now, that would be enough to boost the Wings to 2nd place in the Atlantic Division.

There is no question the shootout and overtime format will be a discussion point for GM’s to vote on this off-season. There are many different types of solutions thrown out there right now. As such, a possible 3-on-3 overtime session that would take place after the traditional 4-on-4. Another is switching ends after a first overtime session. This would create long changes like the 2nd period, usually where most goals are scored. These are all possible changes the NHL could implement, but that is yet to be determined.

Why is the shootout still around? Simple, the fans love it.”

So, if people feel this way, why is the shootout still around? Simple, the fans love it. For them, there is nothing like seeing Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, or the magician Pavel Datsyuk coming in alone on goal ready to make the goalie look foolish. Plus, it is a quick way to end a regular season game without having to wait out multiple overtimes for one more goal.

There will be no perfect solution for a problem such as this one. The NHL did the right thing by erasing the tie after the ’05-’06 season and adding the shootout. But, to many, the shootout has overstayed its welcome, and it is time to find another way of ending games. It will be interesting to see where the NHL goes with this situation, the future of the shootout is now in the hands of the league.

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