Blog Entry

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:02 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:03 am
Fans watch closely during a recent shootout in Edmonton. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

If you are like most hockey fans, you hate the shootout. If I were to gather based on reactions every time a game goes into the shootout, I don't know if hate is even a strong enough word.

Well if you haven't reached that point already, you might want to come to terms with it because it's not going anywhere according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"All the research that we do on a regular basis tells us overwhelmingly our fans like the shootout," Bettman told the Associated Press this weekend in Ottawa. "We're looking at numbers in the 70 and 80 percent approval range, which on any question is an extraordinarily high number. Anecdotally, I try to go to a game at least once in every building, and when you see an overtime game that goes to the shootout, the reaction in the building is sensational. Everybody's on their feet."

As part of the "70 or 80 percent" who approve -- I know, I know -- not even I buy those numbers. But what I can't dispute is the last point that Bettman brings up about everybody coming to their feet for the shootout.

Either Wild coach Mike Yeo is toeing the company line or he enjoys the shootout, something his team is familiar with.

"People want to see somebody win. They want to walk away without an empty feeling like, 'Wow, that was a really good tie tonight'," Yeo said. "You want to win and you don't want to lose, but when you lose it makes the wins that much better. That's what we're here for: to win hockey games."

Anaheim Ducks forward and last year's Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry is on record as saying he has no problem with the shootout either.

"It's exciting, and people want to see that. They want to see one-on-one action," Perry told the AP. "I don't mind it. You've got your best players out there taking shots and trying to win for your team. Guys like that in this game. They want that pressure."

Of course, not everybody is on the same page in the NHL.

"I have mixed feelings about it," Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said. "The shootout is very random, because it's not really involving the whole team. I think that's probably the most difficult thing, so if you have a core group of guys that aren't doing well in the shootout, then there's a lot of blame on certain people. But it is better than having nobody win the game. I think at the end of the day you're trying to sell tickets and being able to give a result to somebody is probably pretty good."

That doesn’t mean that the overtime rules will stay just the way they are. I'd expect conversations to continue among the powers that be about possibly going to 3-on-3 in overtime after a few minutes if no goal has been scored, reducing the chances of a shootout, as they experimented with this summer.

Having said I am one of those that does enjoy the shootout and its presence, I'm still in favor of changing the point system. I think a lot of the frustration fans have over the shootout would be taken away if they converted to a 3-2-1-0 point system (three points for a regulation win, two for an OT/shootout win, one for an OT/shootout loss, and nada for a regulation loss).

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Category: NHL

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:31 am

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

None of the hockey fans I know have been polled by the NHL about the shootout (or anything else). Who does Bettman poll, the people in the league's main office?

Interesting, isn't it?  I live a pretty good distance from you in a different country and I haven't seen a poll either.  And I know people from all over the Canada, thousands of miles apart and they haven't been polled either.  Not to mention the people I know all over Michigan and some in DC, none of which were polled.  I'm thinking if it's not league office people it must be his neighbours and relatives?

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:34 am

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Sorry......that should have been to 'rkb'.....I'm a little dyslexic this morning. lol

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:33 am

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

None of the hockey fans I know have been polled by the NHL about the shootout (or anything else). Who does Bettman poll, the people in the league's main office?

rbk, regarding your re-alignment plan, I really like your idea to maintain rivalries even outside of divisions. It could even be modified each year when scheduling to account for developing rivalries while eliminating extra games between teams where the rivalry has flamed out. Nice work.

Since: Apr 1, 2010
Posted on: January 31, 2012 7:04 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

There are several issues involved in the shootout and the current scoring system. Many have been addressed here, but for me there are a few that are most compelling. My credentials: I am a 36 year hockey fan. My first game was a Flyers game in Pittsburgh. We had just moved from Philly and I clutched my stuffed Philly Flyer guy. Penguins fans wore their blue and white proudly while spitting on me as a six year old. I was hooked, and I became a fan of the Penguins and Rick Keee-Ho-o until some guy named Lemieux came along. (1) Smplicity is a good reason to keep the current W-L-OL format. Too many people were totally baffled by the old 4-tier point system. It does overinflate W-L records. But it is the same for all. (2) 3 on 3 seems an even more random way to determine a winner than a shootout. (3) Shootouts are exciting. It may be random or draw negative attention unfairly to a few players. But having a chance to showcase top goal scores and the opposing goalies is a great way to highlight the NHL superstars. (4) There is value (measured in eyeballs, thus ratings, thus dollars for the players) from fairly standard 2 hour game lengths that make it a more valuable tv asset. The shootout is a key to that predictability. Besides, a regular season policy of 5 on 5 until a tie is broken is insane. Why risk player injuries from fatigue just to get a regular season winner/loser. Embrace the change. The NHL is about to enter a great resurgence. Combine high definition TV and improved Camera-work, plus a simpler game, and this is a league likely to see continued growth.

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:24 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Regulation win = 3 points
Overtime win = 2 points
Overtime loss = 1 point
Regulation loss = 0 points
No. I still hate that a team gets a point for "Almost Winning"

Regulation Win -- 2 points
OT Win -- 1 point
Regulation or OT Loss -- 0 points

Lose the shootout and play 5 on 5 until someone wins

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:16 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

The shootout is ridiculous and the three-point game is just awful. I'd rather have nobody win the game, just have two points for a win and one for a tie. I like Bettman, I think he's the only good commissioner in sports, but I hate the shootout.

Since: Mar 15, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:08 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

I've been a busybee at fantasy-commissioning the NHL, ha! In fact, here is my proposed realignment if you kept the 6 divisions (to appease the current NHLPA who disapproved of 4 conferences)...


Los AngelesCGY, DAL, EDM, VAN
ColoradoDAL, EDM, MIN, VAN
PhoenixCGY, DAL, FLA, TB


VancouverCHI, COL, LA, SJ
CalgaryANA, LA, PHX, SJ
EdmontonANA, COL, LA, SJ
MinnesotaCHI, COL, DET, STL
WinnipegANA, CHI, DET, SJ


NashvilleCAR, CLB, FLA, TB


WashingtonBOS, NYI, OTT, PIT
FloridaNSH, NJ, OTT, PHX
CarolinaNSH, NJ, PHI, STL
ColumbusCHI, DET, NSH, STL


MontrealNYI, NYR, PHI, PIT
BuffaloNJ, NYI, NYR, PIT


PhiladelphiaBOS, CAR, MON, TOR
PittsburghBUF, MON, TOR, WSH
NY IslandersBUF, MON, OTT, WSH
New JerseyBOS, BUF, CAR, FLA

The schedule would still be 82 games, however the easy fix for complaining teams is that one teams plays 6 games (3h, 3a) against its 4 division opponents, and plays 4 games (2h, 2a) against 4 league rivals not in division, and plays 2 games (1h, 1a) against the 21 remaining teams. Easy. The four teams in capital letters next to each team would ideally be the four out-of-division rival teams that team would play four times.

Looks like this:
6 games x 4 division opponents = 24 games played
4 games x 4 rival opponents = 16 games played
2 games x 21 remaining opponents = 42 games played

Total games played = 82


Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:04 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Sorry, that should have been "shootout", not "hootout"--though maybe the latter would be appropriate, too!

Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:45 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

rkb--Better than the present setup, I'd say.

Another thing I've never liked about the present scoring is how, at least at a glance, it skews the standings and gives the impression of two-thirds (or more?) of the teams having winning records, since the "W" figure doesn't distinguish between regulation wins and overtime-or-hootout wins. Of course one can do a calculation by adding the "overtime loss" figures to the "L" figures and get a better idea, but that shouldn't be necessary. Sometimes I get the impression they're doing it this way just so that more clubs can brag to their more-gullible fans about how good their W-L record was.

Since: Feb 27, 2011
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:35 pm

Gary Bettman: Our fans like the shootout

Gary Bettman is an idiot. I don't think 10 percent of the hockey fans out there like the shootout. Nothing has changed from the tie. If t is late, you are tied, everything gets conservative and they play for the point hoping to get a 2nd point in the shootout. Althought I have been a hockey fan for all 40 years of my life, there are things in hockey that need to be changed. I don't think you need to change hockey for the worse and the shootout does just that- it has made it worse. I like the continuous overtime rule. Not sure how the points should play out. And yes, Gary Bettman is an idiot.

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