Who knows if this might steamroll, but when the likes of star players Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers get behind an idea for change, people just might be prone to listen.
In this case, the topic is the shootout in the NHL and whether it should be jettisoned in favor of a 10-minute three-on-three sudden-death overtime, up from the current 5-minute three-on-three extra session.
Crosby and McDavid are in favor.
“I’d be for that for sure,” Crosby told PHN Monday in an interview that followed McDavid’s endorsement.
On Sportsnet’s “Tim and Friends” last week, McDavid was asked about ditching the shootout and extending the three-on-three overtime to 10 minutes. He was clear about his endorsement.
“Yeah, I would like that,” McDavid said. “No one loves the shootout. It’s a crappy way to finish a game.”
Crosby wasn’t that colorful in his wording, but he likes the idea.
Both superstars pointed out there would be challenges.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the players’ health and safety,” McDavid said. “It’s a long season. The overtime, it taxes a lot of guys, so making it longer could have some effects there. But I agree … that no one wants to see a game end in a shootout.”
The NHL uses ROW – wins in regulation and overtime – as one of its tiebreakers to decide playoff seeding, diminishing to some extent the role of the extra point a team picks up for winning in a shootout. But those extra points are used in raw point totals if tiebreakers aren’t needed.
The shootout was instituted in 2005-06, Crosby’s rookie season and before McDavid entered the league, as a means of eliminating ties and ensuring a winner in every game.
Crosby wondered out loud about what might happen if the NHL eliminated the shootout. One option, of course, would be to go back to ties, where each team gets one point.
That seems more palatable than shootouts to Crosby, although he believes expanding three-on-three overtime to 10 minutes would lead to more games being decided in that extra frame, cutting down on potential ties.
“Yeah, I’d play with ties,” Crosby said. “It’s not great, but with a 10-minute three-on-three, I’d like to think that (somebody would usually win in that span).
“It just gets hard, though, if you put ties back in. Late in the year it’s going to create issues because teams are going to have to make up points, and they’re going to have to pull their goalie in overtime to try to avoid a tie. And then it’s going to throw everything off.”
Crosby noted that one option would be to keep the shootout even with a 10-minute three-on-three overtime, with the hope that not many games would get to that point.
The NHL previously had four-on-four, five-minute overtimes, followed by a shootout if no one scored. Crosby was an advocate for switching to three-on-three, and in 2015-16 the NHL made that change.
The result, the popular opinion seems to be, has been a fast, highly entertaining overtime.
Expanding it to 10 minutes could be more of a good thing, but could present a few other challenges.
As McDavid pointed out, three-on-three play is taxing.
“If they did (go to 10 minutes), maybe they could cap the (number of) back-to-back games,” Crosby said. “Then I think it would be a little bit more manageable.”
Crosby also noted that because of the fatigue factor, going to 10 minutes “might slow it down.”
Still, he’s on board.
“Yeah, I would like that,” Crosby said.
Having Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid advocate for an issue in the NHL is noteworthy. We will see if this gains traction.