The NHL has officially put an end to a relative injustice in the standings tie-breaking procedure today. The NHL Board of Governors officially approved a by-law eliminating shootout wins from being used in factoring tie-breakers at the end of the season to figure out playoff placement.
In other words, winning in regulation or overtime just got a lot more important without having to show it in the standings. Here’s how the league rule book looks now:
NHL By-Law 27.3 now reads as follows (with the approved revision in underlined italics):
At the conclusion of the regular Schedule of Championship Games the standing of the teams in each Conference shall be determined in accordance with the following priorities in the order listed:
a) First place in each of the three divisions seeded 1, 2 and 3.
b) The higher number of points earned by the Club.
c) The greater number of games won by the Club (excluding games won in the Shootout).
d) The higher number of points earned in games against each other among two or more Clubs having equal standing under priorities (b) and (c).
e) The greater differential between goals scored for and against by clubs having equal standing under priority (d).
While this can be scored as a victory for those that have turned their backs on the shootout as if they were Chong Li in “Bloodsport” it now leaves the shootout out there as basically an entertainment solution to games. Ideally, teams will want to win games in regulation or overtime now because, on the off chance they end up tied, it’s better to have that win count for something rather than a point booster. Whether or not this actually motivates teams to get gutsy and go for wins remains to be seen.
That said, anything that helps bring about the end of the tyrannical farce called the shootout is A-OK in my book. As a guy that once supported the shootout because of my disdain for ties, seeing it in action has completely changed my opinion and I’ve grown to appreciate a game that can be evenly played can end in an even score.