Bettman concedes there are ‘some members of the NHL family who would like to see fewer shootouts’


One day after Bruins coach Claude Julien became the latest to add his voice to the burgeoning anti-shootout movement — “They suck,” he said (albeit after Boston lost another one of them) — ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that NHL general managers are expected to debate the issue when they gather for meetings in Baco Raton starting March 16.

“I think there are some members of the NHL family who would like to see fewer shootouts,” commissioner Gary Bettman told Custance. “We’re not hearing that from fans. Fans like the way the game is. That’s something we’re going to discuss. I’m not sure anybody is ready to make a change.”

Bettman has long maintained his support for the shootout, pointing in the past to “research that we do on a regular basis” that “tells us overwhelmingly our fans like” the tie-breaking procedure.

But that hasn’t stopped Brian Burke from calling it a “circus stunt” or John Tortorella from labeling it a “gimmick” that “should be out of the league.”

Players such as Milan Lucic have also wondered if 3-on-3 overtime, like they’re trying this season in the AHL, might be a better way to settle more games.

As Custance notes, “Through March 3, just 5.6 percent of the AHL’s games have been decided in the shootout. That’s down from 15.6 percent last season when the AHL mirrored the NHL’s rules.”

In contrast, there have been 135 shootouts (14.0 percent of games) this season in the NHL.