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The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Enough with all the shootouts, imagining an all warm-market Stanley Cup Final, and more!

Jan 15, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

San Jose Sharks v Washington Capitals Getty Images

Every Wednesday we publish a little back-and-forth we have via email. We call it the Chip ‘n’ Chase. Yes, it’s a terrible name. Enjoy.

Jason Brough: Hey buddy, so you know how they say it’s important to have a purpose in life? I’m excited to say that I think I found mine. Something that will get me out of bed every day. Something that will drive me every hour I’m awake. And that something is…KILLING THE SHOOTOUT. Or, at the very least, making sure it’s not deciding so many games. Because it really is getting ridiculous. Did you know that one of the teams we’ll see tonight on NBCSN, the Washington Capitals, has gone to the shootout 14 times this season? That’s almost a third of their games being decided by hockey’s version of the home-run derby, or basketball’s version of the 3-point contest, or golf’s version of the long-drive competition, or football’s version of…I dunno…what do they do at the Pro Bowl — surfing? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the actual act of the shootout, which can be quite entertaining. I just have a huge problem with so many valuable points being awarded to the winner of a competition that proves nothing about the quality of a hockey team.

Mike Halford: Not to be ageist, but that made you sound super old. Like, there’s a good chance you dictated that for your grandson to type out, then wrote him a $13 check for his birthday. I just don’t get what the big deal is. I’ve yet to hear a coach or player from a non-playoff team say, “Our downfall this year? Shootout, 100 percent.” And what’s the alternative? While I greatly respect the opinions of you and John Tortorella, saying you hate something without suggesting a viable alternative is a bit like complaining about the weather. What instead of the shootout — 4-on-4 followed by 3-on-3, then 2-on-2, then bubble hockey?

JB: Like I said, if shootouts can’t be eliminated outright, I would settle for fewer of them. Five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime, if it’s not settled 4-on-4, would accomplish that. Is 3-on-3 still gimmicky? Yeah, maybe a bit. But at least it involves all the elements of hockey, like skating, passing and defending. And while I’m at it, I’d also like to see a different points system, one that gives teams more of an incentive to win in regulation. Give them three points for getting the job done in 60 minutes. Just imagine how fun that would be down the stretch. Picture a team that needs to climb the standings going all out to get the full three points. Am I holding my breath waiting for that to happen? Nope, because that sort of system could lead to a wider gap in the standings between the haves and have-nots. The NHL’s worked so hard to achieve its parity; it probably doesn’t want to be like the English Premier League, where three points are awarded for a win and — let’s see here — after 21 games, first-place Arsenal has three times as many points as last-place Crystal Palace. As an English football announcer might say in his English-football-announcer way, all hope is surely lost now for Palace.

MH: There might be less parity in the NHL than you think, old boy. Anaheim is on 75 points, top of the league, while Buffalo sits bottom of the table with 31. Meanwhile, can Florida escape the relegation zone? One thinks they’ll have to be busy in the transfer window to make a push. (We should write more in English-football-announcer speak. You could call me Nigel if it helps.) Anyway, let’s steer this back towards hockey — well, sort of hockey. Have you seen what they’re putting in Dodger Stadium for the outdoor game between the Kings and Ducks? An ice rink, a street hockey rink, a beach volleyball court, two music stages and a bunch of palm trees. Here’s a rendering:


The NHL also booked KISS as the headline act. KISS! That’s pretty indicative of how much the league is thriving now compared to a few years ago when, y’know, it had Chaka Khan doing the awards show.

JB: I absolutely love the planned set-up at Dodger Stadium. It’s basically a huge middle finger to everyone back east struggling through awful weather. They should have a tanning area too. And girls walking around in bikinis. Everyone always rips the warm-weather markets for not being true hockey markets anyway. Might as well embrace it. Get a load of the forecast for Jan. 25, the day of the game:


Sunny with a high of 73 and a low of 54. Just a nice comfortable day. Aaaaaaaand cue all the terrible jokes about the ice melting. The game isn’t until the evening, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine. And if the ice does melt, oh well, everyone can just hang out and drink some margaritas.

MH: Now take it a step further and imagine an all warm-market Stanley Cup Final. Because if there’s a year for it to happen, this might be it. The California contingent is obviously in the mix — all three are in the NHL’s top seven — and Tampa Bay has played really well since the Stamkos injury (16-10-4). I think we should be talking much, much more about the Lightning. This is a team that’s played nine rookies and remains neck-and-neck with Boston for second place in the conference. It’s not by fluke, either. According to those fancy nerd stats you’re always droning on about, the Bolts rank pretty high.

JB: Oh man, Canada would lose its collective mind if there was an all warm-market final. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the last time a Canadian team won the Cup was 1993, when Montreal beat Gretzky and the Kings — since then, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Anaheim, and L.A. have each celebrated championships, and a team from Canada has lost in the final five times. I agree with you about Tampa Bay, by the way. The Lightning might be the most underrated team in the NHL. If I had to vote for a coach of the year right now, it would be Jon Cooper. And if I had to vote for the Vezina, it would be Ben Bishop. I was also pretty surprised Sweden left Victor Hedman off its Olympic roster. True, Pittsburgh and Boston probably have a better shot of coming out of the East than T-Bay, but does any Canadian squad have a better chance of making the final out of either conference? You could argue Montreal or even Ottawa in the East, but I don’t think so. Tom Sestito‘s Vancouver Canucks are still probably the best Canadian team out of all seven, but their chances in the West look awfully grim.

MH: Even with Tom Sestito?

JB: Even with Tom Sestito.

  1. polegojim - Jan 15, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Love Jason’s purpose in life… Kill the Shoot Out is awesome… to your success sir!!!

    Warm weather Final… Not so much… June = hot weather and poor ice. Not buying that one.

    • patthehockeyfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Ah, but just think. Hot weather outdoors, cold ice indoors. Makes for a nice foggy game. Throw in a few bats and you’ve got a Final to remember.

    • Professor Fate - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Except for the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, NHL games are indoors. Where they have, you know, that new-fangled invention called air conditioning. It keeps the air temperature cool and they even put refrigeration pipes under the ice to keep it from melting. I know, it’s mind-boggling.

      Sarcasm aside, several warm-weather teams have won the SC and I don’t recall any issues with the ice. Even traditional cold-weather arenas heat the indoor air so the paying customers don’t freeze their buns off, thus also requiring refrigeration for the ice. No poor ice there, either.

      • polegojim - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        No Prof Fate… no no no… that new-fangled AC thing does NOT keep the ice as well as colder weather. See Phoenix, Dallas… etc. It’s getting better, but not there yet. Calif is not as drastic, so with Sharks and Ducks, not ‘as much’ of an issue.

        Been there… done that…

        That said… guess we can’t prevent two warm weather teams from qualifying… they’re pretty much solving that for us… via poor play.

      • JoeAvg - Jan 15, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Yeah, but I also remember the Oilers and Bruins having to skate circles around the Boston Garden trying to lift the fog enough so they could resume play – during the SCF no less!

      • dontbeadope - Jan 15, 2014 at 8:43 PM

        Uhm… cold weather teams barely heat the indoor air if at all. You wonder why you wear your teams sweater at a game over a sweatshirt and the ladies wear gloves? Because the NHL dictates the temp at the farthest point from the ice in the stadium. And the temp is not very warm, unless you just came in from temps in the 10’s or 20’s.

    • imleftcoast - Jan 15, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      Tom Sestito’s 13-year-old sister is in a Twitter death spiral with Keith Obermann after he named Sestito worst person in the sports world (over Carmelo Anthony, are you kidding me?).

  2. joey4id - Jan 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    The whole problem with the 3 on 3 and the 4 on 4 is that it doesn’t guarantee someone will score. The NHL needs an alternative to break a tie should the 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 not result in a winner after a specific amount of time. Also, if the two teams are from different conferences, they may just play for the tie until they get to the SO because losing a point to the opposing conference is not as bad as within your own conference.

    Hockey in the sun…. I wouldn’t pay for the Winter Classic, and wouldn’t go freeze my derrière for free, but I would attend a game at Dodger Stadium. Watch a hockey game all the while having images of Kirk Gibson rounding second base hobbling on one leg. Now that’s a Master Card moment.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      That’s why, combined with an overhaul of the point system, I think they should think about making the shootout into 2on1s. There’s always a winner (the most important point, in your book), it takes some pressure/responsibility off the goalie, and introduces passing and defense… the things that make people think that the shootout isn’t real hockey. It’s gimmicky still, but isn’t everything new pretty gimmicky? We’ve already forgotten about standard icing. Nobody’s still complaining about that. It seems like the simplest solution to keeping ties out of the game, while not completely screwing over the teams that have planned their teams to win shootouts.

      plus, IMO, it’d be even MORE fun to watch than the shootout.

      • joey4id - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        The idea is to reduce the number of SOs and increase the incentive for teams to win in regulation.

        2 on 1… idk… I get what you’re saying, but the boys will make a gimmick out of it… I think.

        3 pts for a regulation win, 2 points for OT win, 1 pt for OT tie, 1 pt for SO win.

        OT is 4 on 4 for 5 mins. If still tied go 3 on 3 for 5 mins

        or OT is 3 on 3 for 10 mins.

        SO if still tied after OT.

        My name is Joey and I approve. :-) to be implemented next season in the AHL.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        who’s idea? your idea? there’s people out there that like to watch shootouts, including myself. I hate that points are awarded to teams that are good at something that doesn’t include many aspects of real hockey, but I like to watch the high-pressure situations that players are forced into. It’d be easier to just make shootouts more enjoyable for EVERYBODY, rather than just casual fans, instead of trying to alter players’ mindsets and punishing teams that have prepared for shootouts. I think adding passing and defense is a simple and effective way to do that. the best part is that it doesn’t stifle creativity like eliminating shootouts would do. these players can do some crazy sh**, and I’d like to see it.

      • joey4id - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        I think most agree that determining a winner via a SO is not indicative of a team’s effort, but surely displays the boys talents. Based on what I’ve been reading and through observation, many close to the game don’t like the SO, while many fans like it. I don’t believe we can complete eliminate it unless we accept that on any given night there may not be a winner because the NHL will always be bound by time limitations due to the travel schedules unlike baseball, football, or basketball. They’ll always need a sure fire way to break a tie. The SO is the only viable one I see. So, the idea (not mine) is to find a way to minimize the number of games determined via a SO. Alternatives are as you suggested, 2 on 1, or has others have, 3 on 3, extend the 4 on 4 to 10 mins. etc… Also, adding incentive (3 pts) to win in regulation may not be a bad way to go. This would have to be tested, and data analyzed to assess it’s feasibility before it can be implemented in the NHL. Hence! Implement it in the AHL first as they do many other rules before including them in the NHL rule book.

    • polegojim - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Joey… you would have LOVED being at the Big House on Jan 1, and you know it!

      • joey4id - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        :-) idk…. I hate the cold weather…. which is why I lived in So Cal for 12 years… Now! I’m hibernating in the north east! LOL!

  3. stang232 - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    While I seem to be one of the few who enjoys the shootout, I think the loosing team should walk away with nothing. I also think that the winning team in a shootout should only get 1 point. I believe that would create more incentive to get the win in a 4 on 4 overtime.

    • jonal11 - Jan 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      That’s not a bad idea either. I like all the ideas as long as we remember, we don’t want ties and we can’t have hockey players playing forever. The game needs to end, and it needs to not end in a tie. I dunno how you can test them all and figure what is the best one, but I am all for it if they can.

    • 12is3times4 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      The idea should be to encourage wins in regulation, not shootouts or even OT. I do like your idea of a “winner point” replacing the “loser point” but it should apply to OT as well as the shootout. So, to recap:

      2 pts for a regulation win
      1 pt for an OT/shootout win
      0 pts for any loss

  4. sjsharks66 - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    “then wrote him a $13 check for his birthday. ” good stuff guys.

    • thailer35 - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      “I absolutely love the planned set-up at Dodger Stadium. It’s basically a huge middle finger to everyone back east struggling through awful weather. They should have a tanning area too. And girls walking around in bikinis. Everyone always rips the warm-weather markets for not being true hockey markets anyway. Might as well embrace it.”

      Pure. Solid. Gold.

      • shortsxit34 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        No joke – They asked for volunteers to be roller skating, skate boarding, jogging, and riding bikes for the background.

  5. flash8910 - Jan 15, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    For OT, put the teams on 5 on 3 PP. Start with one team. If the team scored in 45 seconds. Put 45 seconds on the clock. Team 2 either scores in less time and wins, or time runs out and they lose.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      “saying you hate something without suggesting a viable alternative”

      funny. this happens in the comments on PHT too.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        whoops, wasn’t supposed to be a reply.

      • polegojim - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        um… you’re replying IN PHT ibie… not ‘too’.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        um… what?

    • micasa81 - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      That’s one of the more interesting ideas I’ve heard, though it’s not without problems. The main problem I see with it is the fact that it would get increasingly boring and dirty the longer it lasted. Going through the scenario, you could imagine that both teams would be fairly urgent to begin with, but the longer the defenders hold out, the less incentive there is for both teams to play well. After, say, 5 minutes, both teams know that it’s very unlikely that a goal will win/lose them the game. The level of intensity drops off, and the actual punitiveness of a penalty lessens, which would encourage more infractions. How would you get around that?

      BTW, I’d still vote to try out some version of this idea. I really hate the shootout.

  6. csilojohnson - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Just extend 4-4 OT.
    5 minutes is a joke. 10 minute 4-4 could cut shoot outs in half. 15 min OT could.. well point taken?

    As much of a fan of the Cooper signing i am….
    Based on injury success Bylsma gets coach of year. Yea im a Pitt homer. Numbers dont lie though.

    • westinpat - Jan 15, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      I agree. Also maybe make a win in regulation 3 points, a win in OT 2 points and a lose in OT 1 point. A little extra motivation instead of holding onto a tie the last 4 minutes of a game to go to OT may also lower all this shootouts.

    • bkg63 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Extend the 4-4 OT to 10 minutes or better yet, do this:

      4-4 (5:00) if no score,
      3-3 (5:00), if no score
      Go to SO

      I also agree with 3 pts for a regulation win, 2 points for OT win, 1 pt for SO win.

  7. dirt2013 - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Too many ties after overtime? Award no points after an overtime tie and there would be less of them.

    • JoeAvg - Jan 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Almost got it. I’ve said this before: Zero points for the loser – regardless. Two points for regulation or overtime win. One point for a shoot out win. This could cut the number of shootouts in half.

  8. hockeydon10 - Jan 15, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    10 minute overtime
    Long change like 2nd period

    Then shoot out.

    I’ve heard a suggestion that every penalty committed in OT is a penalty shot instead of the normal 2 minutes. I’m not sure about that one.

  9. 12is3times4 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Another problem with the OT/shootout “loser point” that hardly gets any discussion is that it disproportionately affects games within each conference as opposed to interconference games.

    Under the current system, teams have some incentive to win in regulation against a conference rival, as allowing a rival team even one point in the standings could come back to bite them in the playoff race. But this incentive completely disappears in East vs. West matchups, because the two teams are not battling for the same playoff spot, so they can extend a game into OT and beyond without having to worry about giving the other team an extra point in the standings.

  10. tridecagon - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Whatever you do, you have to get rid of the current system where in the last 5 minutes of regulation, tied teams just shut it down to get to OT and get their charity point.

    But the loser point is okay if winners get 3 for a regulation win and 2 for an OT/shootout win. All games are worth 3 total points – and you’d see some really exciting 3rd periods in tie games.

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