Personally, I think the NHL shootout is stupid. The shootout is necessary in tournaments that are being played on a single sheet of ice, where a winner needs to be determined but teams can't be allowed to play indefinitely because the next game needs to go on. In the NHL, there is no such need. The NHL instituted the shootout because fans don't like games that end in ties. This, to me, is completely fucking dumb. Fans don't like losing either, but that's the nature of sport. I don't see anybody trying to eliminate losses from the NHL.
Oh wait--Teams get points for losing, now. I forgot.
Okay so anyway losses are being marginalized a little bit and wins are being inflated and ties are a thing of the past. Thanks, NHL! You've made your league a happier place to be a fan. Now will you please expand the playoffs to allow 30 teams? Fans hate it when their teams miss the playoffs.
Despite the NHL's best efforts to make the fans happy by allowing more than half the league's teams to have winning records, there has been some push-back from people who don't like tie-breaking shootouts, but still don't like ties. With these idiots in mind, I write an open letter to the NHL...
Dear NHL, here are a few suggestions for tie-breakers to replace the shootout:
1. Fan voting. Let the fans decide the winner! Fans love voting for their favorites! They get to feel like they're participating in the game. And if you have them do it by phone, you can charge a service fee like in those talent contest shows on national TV. I know you want a piece of that action!
2. 4-on-4, then 3-on-3, then 2-on-2, then 1-on-1, then goalies only. This is for all the purists out there who think shootouts aren't real hockey. Skip 5-on-5 play; that's not exciting in sudden death. What we need to do is make each team play one less player every five minutes. That way, it gets more exciting all the time! And when they get to 1-on-1, we're still watching completely legitimate hockey that's every bit as real as the boring, stuffy 5-on-5 play that you forced us to sit through for the first 60 minutes! Think of all the open ice! It'll be so exciting and novel! Like the shootout!
But of course, if just the two goalies can't score on each other, it'll be time to move to option 3:
3. 10-on-10, no goalies, no icing, no offsides. This would be exciting. There would still be plenty of opportunities for hitting, passing, scoring, maybe a little skating. Why don't we do this all the time? More scoring! If they still can't score after five minutes of 10-on-10 play:
4. Start taking away their sticks. After every five-minute period of sudden death overtime of 10-on-10 hockey, make another one of the players from each team forfeit their stick. Think of the novelty! Oh man fans are gonna love this.
5. Flyting. This would be the best idea ever, if hockey players weren't dim-wits as a rule and clever as an exception. As it stands this would only be marginally more entertaining than a shoot-out. This does have the potential for some terrific highlights, though. Think of Ryan Miller busting out an epic yo-mamma joke to win the game. That's the kind of thing that would get discussed endlessly on message boards for weeks. I'm telling you this could bring your sport a whole new legion of fans previously unfamiliar with hockey. But even that can't top my final suggestion in terms of pure fan-service:
6. Strip-tease. After polling a bunch of folks who kind of watch hockey sometimes (your most important demographic, obviously), you have determined that people don't like tie games. That's why it's so critical that tie games be forever banished. Now that you have identified the problem, it only makes perfect sense to use the same method to find the solution. Polling has shown that fans overwhelmingly agree that they like sex. So get the ice-girls out there! Get some cheerleaders! Get the two oldest and two youngest players from each team on the ice to perform a strip tease! Dim the lights and turn up the sexy music! Both teams can be credited with a win. Now everybody is happy. A sure-fire way to please! Highlight packages galore! All of which would be extremely watchable, if not mesmerizing.
You're welcome. Now get on it, NHL!