83% of fans want to do away with the controversial way to decide tied games.

January 14, 2023 – The National Hockey League (NHL) shootout is a controversial topic.

The shootout, which was first introduced in the 2005-2006 season, is used as a tiebreaker in regular season games that are tied after the five-minute overtime period.

The NHL saw 102 games end in a shootout last season, which comes out to a little under eight percent of games ending in a shootout. Since the NHL adopted three-on-three overtime, the number of games going to a shootout is lower. However, the games that go to a shootout end basically with a coin flip.

While some argue that the shootout adds excitement and provides a fair way to decide the winner of a game, others argue that it is an artificial way to decide a game and does not accurately reflect the skill of a team.

A Twitter poll by Pierre LeBrun, Senior NHL Columnist for @TheAthletic, taken in April 2022, had 49,298 votes with 83.1% of NHL fans suggesting the league should do away with shootouts. However, knowing shootouts are a key marketing factor for the league means it is unlikely going anywhere soon.

Hockey is a team sport and it’s about how you play as a team, not individual skill. A win in the shootout only gets you one more point than the loser, but that one point can make all the difference. Although the shootouts aren’t in the playoffs, they make a huge difference in regular season. Goalies study each player’s shootout moves, often making rookies the most effective shootout scorers.

Edmonton Oilers captain, Connor McDavid, is one notable opponent of the shootout, he stated that he wishes the NHL would get rid of shootouts, calling it a “crappy way to finish a game.”

“crappy way to finish a game.”

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The NHL needs to cut down, or completely eliminate, the shootout. The shootout has helped the sport become more popular, but the game needs to be decided by game play. The league should focus on finding ways to decide the game by team play, and not individual skills.

The league should look for alternatives to the shootout that will be fair to the teams and fans.