I wrote this post a while ago, but it was never put on Canucks Hockey Blog. It’s the first part in a two part piece on the shootout. Keep in mind when this was written, November 15th 2007 – but it serves an important purpose for the point I’ll make in the second post.
Since the introduction of the shootout in the post lockout era a lot of people were sucked into the hype that it made the game more interesting, I for one was not. Let me state clearly now that I have been against the shoot out from day one. In fact no, I’ve been against the shootout entering the NHL since the conception of the idea and in the days of its potential.
Why was the shootout brought around? Was it because something was wrong with a tie? Most definitely not. In the grand scheme of things the sad reality is that the shootout was brought into the league as a way to “spice up” hockey. Pre-lockout American teams were having trouble selling out their buildings during the regular season. In fact, despite being top in the league at the time, The Buffalo Sabres had such difficulty filling seats they filed for bankruptcy. During the lockout it was widely known that the already low interest in hockey south of the border was going to get worse as this was just another black mark on the face of the NHL. Along comes the idea for a shootout. The shootout was supposed to bring “heightened entertainment” to games, it was supposed to put fans in the seats in the states, it was supposed to make every game more important on a smaller scale. Post lockout, has it put more fans in seats? No, there are still empty seats in the same cities that were always struggling, the Floridas, the Tampa Bays, etc. Has it made the game more exciting? No, it merely gives the team that managed to hang in the game barely a chance to win a game they didn’t deserve to win. Did the NHL achieve their goal of “heightened entertainment”? Hockey was the same before the lockout as it is after the lockout, yes fighting went down drastically and penalties went up, but did the shootout specifically make the came more entertaining? I seriously doubt that.
It’s a shame that for the sake of struggling American teams, the whole league gets impacted, despite those teams making up a minority.
You have two rivals playing, division on the line. The game is packed with flashy saves, end to end rushes, odd man rushes, few penalties. Clean, hard hitting hockey, passion, intensity and a love for the game raw and fast. Each goalie is on fire, players hustling and fighting for the puck. Regulation ends, tie game, players fight through overtime, every member of the team equally responsible for the result thus far, you play as a team, you win as a team, you lose as a team, you leave the ice everything left out there and if the game is unresolved in a tie, so be it.
Tell me why then there is the need for the shootout? Hockey is a team game, every player plays towards the goal of winning as a team. If the Canucks won the Stanley cup would the cup be given just to Naslund? Or Luongo? No — Because its a team game, so then why must a game, that is so team oriented, be decided by the flick of a wrist of an individual. There is no place for a tie breaking procedure decided on individual skill in a team game. In the game breakaways are accepted as a break down of the defense, what is the justification of the shootout? There’s no broken down defense there. Leave the shootout play time in practices, work on your breakaway skills in case you get a shot in a game. Keep it out of the game, this isn’t a skills competition. That is the beauty of the tie.