Will shootouts ever gain acceptance?

What you find when you talk to people around hockey is that, no matter how many leagues bring the shootout into being, it doesn’t look like the concept will even gain full acceptance.

After his team lost a shootout 1-0 for the championship of the Badger Hockey Showdown last Sunday, I asked Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque whether he likes the format, given that his league is now using it as standard protocol for allocating an extra point following tie games.

“No, I don’t like it,” Roque said. “Actually, the coaches in our league voted against it. It’s our administrators that voted for it. We had a couple schools where coaches voted for it and their administrators voted against them. It’s a tough way. we don’t have the skill guys that they do.”

It’s easy not to like the system when you’re 1-6 in shootouts, but I get the feeling that the record has little to do with Roque’s opposition.

There are many around college hockey that don’t have much good to say about shootouts, other than maybe conceding that fans seem to get excited. Their reasons for not wanting them to be part of the college game are varied.

Some used to say they didn’t want them to impact the PairWise Rankings, but the reality is that they don’t. Games that go to shootouts still count as ties toward all the ranking systems except a league’s standings. (You can make an argument, however, that teams getting points for shootout victories makes a difference in the final standings, altering which teams get to play at home.)

Some don’t want a team game boiled down to a 1-on-1 situation. If that’s the case, the penalty shot should be tossed out of the game altogether, too, because it’s a 1-on-1 situation.

Personally, I like shootouts, but it’s not for any on-ice reason. It’s because of what I heard when the public-address announcer at the Kohl Center informed the fans that there was a shootout coming up — a loud cheer.

Money is tight and getting tighter. It’s not getting any less expensive to see college hockey games, although in many places it’s still a great bargain. A lot of people are going to have to make new choices involving their entertainment spending. I don’t know if the difference between finishing in a tie and finishing a game in a shootout will bring in a lot of new fans or keep the old ones, but I’d like to think that some will see the shootout as entertainment value. And while standings and rankings are important, let’s hope that the fan fits into the equation somewhere.


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