Hearing from different coaches and GMs who attended the NHL’s research and development camp in Toronto is proving to be fascinating. If it’s not hearing from many GMs who want to reduce the importance of the shootout, it’s getting the opinions of many of the NHLs smartest people about what tweaks they’d like to see the league adopt in the name of improving the sport. For Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill, he too is excited by some of the possibilities as George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press found out.
Nill said shallower nets would give skaters more room behind the net.
“You can get around the net quicker,” he said. “You have a quicker wraparound. It’s going to create scoring chances.”
As far as the different overtime possibilities they tested out (4-on-4 with a long change, 3-on-3, and 2-on-2 overtime), there’s one part that Nill did not find favor with whatsoever and you can’t really blame him.
The NHL also tested having overtime reduced from 4-on-4 play to 3-on-3 and then down to 2-on-2.
“I thought it was great going to 3-on-3, but 2-on-2 was a disaster,” Nill said. “It was too much open ice, too gimmicky.”
Nill said he would prefer having a game decided with 3-on-3 play in overtime, rather than in a shoot-out.
“I’d rather it be decided with game skills, rather than a game decided on 1-on-1 skill,” he said. “The action in 3-on-3 is unbelievable, and people want to see action.”
We’ve hit on a lot of these things that have been discussed at the R&D camp and, overall, it’s great to see the league try these things out in a careful setting but the biggest boon from all this is how much the dislike of the shootout seems to be gaining momentum. Whether you like it or not is up to your personal tastes and I’m not going to wag my finger at anyone who enjoys the insta-drama offered by the shootout.
Now that the NHL is reducing the importance of shootouts so that they won’t help factor into playoff tie-breakers, it feels as if the clock is ticking on what happens next with the shootout. The league obviously loves the entertainment aspect of it, but it’s clear they hate that it has such a huge effect on games and that teams are becoming more and more willing to go to a shootout to win a game. While I doubt that it will go away entirely, fixing up the points system in the NHL could be the next move the league looks for to straighten things up. After all, having games that reach overtime be worth more points than games decided in regulation has all sorts of flaws attached to it.