Sean McIndoe’s article about fixing the NHL sparked up a conversation among some of my college friends about how to fix the overtime period in the NHL. We all know it’s broken. Two points for a win is fine, but getting a point for an overtime loss seems unfair. Two losses in overtime shouldn’t equal one win. It shouldn’t equal anything. Theoretically, someone could make the playoffs with a subpar record if they took all their games to overtime.
And the shootout! Oh, the shootout! Games are decided by a skills competition event, rather than actual hockey. The team without the skilled players are put at a disadvantage in a shootout to end a game. Specialized players decide how a game ends. How is this fair? How can the shootout actually preserve the integrity of the game?
We know it needs to be changed, but how? Here three options that would fix the overtime period.
1. End game in tie, keep shootout for playoff seeding tiebreaker.
A friend from college suggested keeping the shootout in the game, but for a different purpose. A win would count for two points. A tie would give both teams one point each. However, if the game remains in a tie, a shootout would commence to give the fans the shootout that excites and the results would determine playoff seeding if a tiebreaker is needed.
It’s a good plan and I would be ok with this, but my only concern would be the fans would know the overtime is not as meaningful as a win. They would enjoy seeing the shootout, but winning the shootout wouldn’t feel like a win. It would still feel like a tie.
2. Make the overtime period a full period, end in tie.
My best suggestion would be to borrow from the NFL. Regular season games in the NFL can end in a tie if a full quarter is played. Play one full 20-minute period with sudden-death rules. After a full period, if no winner is found, you end the game in a tie.
To open up play, the regular season overtime period would play four skaters a side and the winner would receive three points instead of the two points in place now. If there is a tie, both teams would get one point. No longer is there motivation to play safe. Three points for a win will keep teams from playing for a tie.
Will this be approved by the players association? Probably not. Playing a whole period and ending in a tie would not be a welcome idea with the players. It would wear down players and become a safety concern. This may be the best idea as far as the integrity of the game, but it may not be the best option for the players.
3. Keep everything except the point system.
If the NHL wants to keep the shootout, but maintain integrity in the standings, the NHL should change the points system, but leave everything the way it is now. Give three points for a regulation win, two points for a overtime win and one point for a shootout win. There would be no points given for any type of loss. Losers shouldn’t get effort points.
This is doesn’t solve the problem of the shootout, but it keeps players from playing safe and it is a decent compromise to fix the NHL’s overtime problem.
What do you think the NHL should change in its overtime period? Let us know in the comments.