Troy Terry made a name for himself in hockey thanks to his shootout exploits for Team USA at the 2017 World Junior Championship against Russia. Kind of like TJ Oshie at the Olympics a few years earlier. Despite that, the Anaheim Ducks star wouldn’t grumble if fewer NHL games ended in shootouts.
A movement is gaining momentum to extend the three-on-three overtime period beyond five minutes during the regular season, in hopes of reducing the number of shootouts. The implementation of the three-on-three period has already significantly reduced the number of games that end in shootouts.
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers has come out in favor of longer overtime, and it’s clear he’s not alone in his camp.
“The three-on-three overtime period, as a whole, is great for the game,” said Terry. “It’s fun for us. It’s more like hockey than going to a shootout. ”
The NHL implemented the shootout in 2005-06, following a lockout that led to the complete cancellation of the previous season. The initiative would eliminate the draws that had existed for decades in the league.
The shootout was supposed to add more spice to regular season games. However, in 2015, the NHL faced a situation it considered problematic: 13 percent of its regular season games — 160 in total — required a shootout after five minutes of four-on-four play. without a decisive goal being scored.
After the experiment was tried in the American Hockey League, the NHL approved three-on-three overtime, and the proportion of games requiring a shootout dropped to eight percent last season.
So far this season, the proportion is 6.5 percent, or 51 of 803 games at the All-Star Weekend break. Saturday evening, the concept of a three-on-three game will once again be put forward as part of the Star Tournament.
However, for many stakeholders associated with hockey, the proportion is still too high.
“Any time you have an opportunity to decide the outcome of a game in a team atmosphere, I think it comes closer to what our sport is about,” the head coach said. Pittsburgh Penguins Mike Sullivan.
“I know the shootout is exciting and there is an element of entertainment. But to me, it’s like determining the outcome of a baseball game with a home run contest.”
McDavid, who told Sportsnet that “no one wants to see the game end in a shootout,” is aware of the potential wear and tear on players from longer three-on-three stretches.
But if the Oilers captain and other players are prepared to deal with such a situation, there’s a good chance the league could seriously consider stretching overtime to three-on-three.
“I think you’ll see goals in the last five minutes if you play those extra five minutes,” said Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones.
“(The shooting) is exciting for the spectators. I understand why we do it. You work for 65 minutes and play a good game, and sometimes you don’t get rewarded because of the shootout. ”
Prejudices related to recent circumstances certainly cloud the conversation for some. Jason Robertson is against an overtime extension after the Dallas Stars lost three consecutive games under such circumstances before the break.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy is okay with the shootouts because his Vegas Golden Knights have a star goaltender who happens to be good at that facet of the game.
Still, Cassidy said he thinks there could be benefits to a longer 3-on-3 overtime, including involving more players. And it would take away the weird feeling, in the quintessential team sport, of losing in a one-on-one competition like the shootout.
“When you lose a shootout when you had a lot of good stuff, you feel like you lost,” Cassidy said.
“Any time you win in the National Hockey League, whether it’s a shootout, overtime or regulation, you feel pretty good. It’s a shootout loss; the pain of this defeat is greater than the joy of victory. ”