The Hockey News has a blog entry on the shoot out that nicely agrees with most of my thoughts on the NHL's shoot out. The shoot out was put in place after the Great Lock Out of 2005-2005. It was intended to be a way of ensuring that every game had a winner and a loser. There were two problems with this idea. The first was the assumption that the fans wanted a winner and a loser for every game. Many fans were quite happy to award a tie if the two teams both played well and deserved a tie. The second was the idea that shoot outs were a fair and exciting way of determining who won a close game. They are not fair. The odds of scoring in a one-on-goalie situation are about fifty-fifty. The goalie either guesses what the skater is going to do and stops the puck, or he does not. In many ways shoot outs are little more than a coin toss.
It is the exciting part that I want to type about today. The above-mentioned blog entry makes the point that fans love the shoot out. I hate to admit it, but that is true. And it is not just the NASCAR cross-over fans that love it, it is the life-long hockey fans who have have taken to it too. I realize that many fans still hate the shoot out. Some refuse to watch it. Others are waiting fot the day that Gary Bettman gets run over at a Zamboni crossing so that things can go back to the way that they were in the mythical glory days of hockey (which usually means when the speaker was ten years old). However, the reality is that the shoot out has proved to be popular amongst a wide swath of hockey fans. It is unlikely to go away, and people will miss it when it does. Even I have to admit that it is fun to watch.
I still dislike shoot outs. I would rather see regular season games that end in a tie after three periods be declared a tie. No five minute overtime. No shoot out. Play-off games should continue the way that the are with teams playing until someone scores the winning goal. However, if the shoot out does stay, I am not going to lose sleep over it.