In a recent post I discussed how I don’t want to see the NHL keep changing its rules and thus veer away from the game hard-core hockey fans have come to know and love.
However, some changes can be good, especially when they partially rectify past changes that weren’t so good. The league has taken the first step toward lessening the impact of the shootout. The change pertains to regular-season tiebreakers. Up until now, the first standings tiebreaker for teams with the same number of points was overall wins (including shootout victories). This change will make it so that shootout wins are excluded from this tiebreaker equation; the wins tiebreaker will count only regulation victories and overtime period victories.
I am completely on board with this change. Yes, I am entertained by the shootout, but when that decides who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t (as was said in my previous NHL post, my beloved Rangers were victimized by this in the worst way possible), something is terribly wrong. While this change isn’t monumental, it does carry some significance and it represents the first step in downgrading the implications of shootouts. After all, this is a team game, so more weight should be placed on team victories, not an individual skills competition. Yahoo! NHL blogger Greg Wyshynski had the best description of the type of people who would think otherwise, which is given in the second paragraph of his post about this rule change.
So, while I was basically against change in my last post, the NHL, with this new rule regarding shootouts and tiebreakers, has created a clear exception to that sentiment. Bear in mind, however, that what makes this change good is that it somewhat alleviates the effects of what was a bad change to begin with – that being not only the implementation of shootouts in the first place, but also making them a critical determinant of the NHL standings.