Going into today’s games, 12.57% of all 2013-14 contests have ended in a shootout. While the league likes having games end with both a definitive winner and in a timely manner, many general managers would still like to see fewer games end with the skills competition.
They’ve taken steps to reduce the importance of shootouts in the past in the hopes of motivating teams to play aggressively in overtime to avoid them. Most notably, the primary tiebreaker at the end of the season is wins minus those earned in a shootout.
Wanting to go further, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is a long-time proponent of extending overtime to include a three-on-three section and that might be the direction we’re now moving in. If nothing else, it will probably be a topic of serious discussion at the general managers’ upcoming March meeting, according to the Canadian Press.
“In the past, it was generally touched on but deferred,” Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney said. “And I think as you go on with the parity of the league, I think we all have to take a harder look.”
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford agrees that more of his colleagues seem to be warming to the idea, but there remains multiple viewpoints. For example, St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong is in favor of extending the length of four-on-four overtime instead.
San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson would like to start smaller than that by having teams switch sides as is the case in the second period, which creates long changes and can lead to mistakes.
“I think that’s a natural evolution, myself,” Wilson said.
Regardless of what they decide, it could be one of the most noticeable alterations to the game in the coming years as the NHL’s complicated relationship with shootouts continues.