The shootout has become a necessary evil for hockey
The ending of the World Juniors championship game between Canada and the United States has been causing quite a stir in the hockey world.
The game was action packed and was tied 4-4 after regulation. The overtime was even better than the regulation, with both teams having a multitude of chances. The overtime looked more like a 3 on 3 than a 5 on 5 at some points.
However, after the twenty minute extra period concluded, the game was to be decided by a five round shootout, which the USA won 1-0, giving them the gold medal.
There was rightful outrage that a game of this magnitude was decided by a skills competition. Many comparisons were made such as a basketball game being decided by a dunk contest or a football game being decided by a field goal kicking contest.
Although this may be true, the shootout has become a necessary evil for hockey. The shootout’s power can be abused at times, with last night’s game being a prime example, but it cannot be taken away from the game all together. The call for the shootout to be removed from hockey after last night’s game is a rash and foolish proposition.
The players interests have to be kept in mind when it comes to overtime and shootout regulations. In an already grueling 82 game season, adding continuous overtime in the regular season is a death wish.
Travel has to be taken into affect as well. If a team is playing in the first night of a back-to-back set, or playing in any road game for that matter, they cannot afford to be playing in continuous overtime until late in the night when they have a flight to catch. It simply does not make sense.
The NHL has clearly taken steps to draw back in the use of shootouts over the past few seasons, with 3 on 3 overtime being the primary change. It would not be surprising to see them add an additional five minutes of 3 on 3 before a shootout in the near future.
The shootout simply cannot be taken out of the game, but changes can be made, starting with the IIHF. The ending of last night’s championship was disrespectful to both players and fans after such a hard fought 80 minutes of battle.
The fact of the matter is: changes can be made, but the shootout had to stay in the game for the sake of the players, whether fans like it or not.