If The Capitals And Panthers Going 20 Rounds In The Shootout Didn't Signal The Eventual End Of The Shootout Era, Nothing Will
Seriously. 20 rounds. 40 breakaways. Maybe 30-35 of which lacked any skill or creativity whatsoever. I don't want that 20 minutes of my life back, I need it back. When I am laying in a hospital bed trying to get out all of my last words to my wife and children I will be looking back on last night. I rue the day I planted my ass on the couch and watched the most boring shootout ever (sans every Devils shootout since October 2013). All I know is what I watched last night needs to be abolished from the sport of hockey. I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life.
Was the novelty of the shootout cute when it was first inducted into the modern NHL game? Sure. It was fun and creative for the first year. However, I can say with certainly it has lost it's luster. There's nothing new. Nothing we haven't seen. The bloom is off the rose. That has only been exacerbated by the NHL's decision to not do ice cuts prior to the shootout this year. Last night I watched the puck bounce erratically off the stick of 3 Panthers who had open nets and a chance to end the shootout about 10 minutes before it's eventual conclusion. After that, I watched a bunch of 4th liners and stay-at-home defenseman come down and rip snap shots into the pads of tired goaltenders to avoid losing the puck and further making a mockery of the situation. At no point in time ever should Willie Mitchell have a chance to win a game with a breakaway. That's when you know we are trivializing the rich tradition of hockey.
If you need shootouts to arouse you for the sudden ending of a hockey game then you probably aren't a huge fan of the sport itself. People either like hockey or they don't. Some illusion of excitement created by the shootout isn't enough to sway the casual observer, especially not the 20 minute train wreck I watched last night. I don't think we should bring ties back. This isn't 1950. But surely there is a way to decide a hockey game by playing the actual sport of hockey, and not some gimmicky charade of one on one situations.
Is time the biggest concern? I almost fell asleep three different times trying to watch the entire 19+ minutes of last night's disaster. If they played 5 minutes 4-on-4, followed up with 5 minutes 3-on-3 it would almost certainly end every game in dramatic fashion, and apparently more importantly for the NHL, in a timely manner. Hell, play 3-on-3 sudden death. The rare situations in which that happens during the game have always produced an exorbitant amount of chances. It still involves a higher volume of skill and allows the players to be more creative than they can on a breakaway.
I know I don't trust the NHL to make the right decision. Shit, we will probably have another lockout before we see the end of the shootout era. However, it's clear, to me anyway, what the right decision is…