By Doug Kennedy
The Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) has come a long way with its overtime rules over the years. There were a lot of heated discussions at annual meetings about new ideas moving forward in the last 10 years. It took a few years after the NHL went to a shootout for the PJHL to follow suit.
I will never forget the first time I saw a shootout live at a junior hockey game. It was in the St. Mary’s arena and needed eight shooters to decide a winner in a greater Ontario Junior Hockey League game against Petrolia. The excitement in the arena was unbelievable.
It took us a few years in the PJHL to implement the shootout. When it did, it was fun for a while, with the players and fans enjoying it, but the lustre eventually wore off. The coaches weren’t sure and we know the goaltenders hated it based on the number of goalie sticks being broken over crossbars.
The PJHL dropped the shootout, adopting a four-on-four overtime period, and then a three-on-three, followed by a shootout if the game was still tied. The PJHL’s Great Lakes division then put into place (for a season) a seven-minute OT period of three-on-three. The new format received a thumbs-up with no complaints from the league’s 63 members – a rarity – so we will be sticking with that when hockey returns.
That takes us to the National Hockey League. The time has come for the NHL to also abandon the shootout and I recommend two five-minute overtime periods of three-on-three hockey to determine a winner. If a goal isn’t scored, the tie stands and each team receives a point. Shootouts shouldn’t determine which teams get into the playoffs. My suggestion is for teams to get three points for a regulation win and two points for an overtime victory. Teams would push harder for a win over 60 minutes.
The NHL is looking at finishing the season and holding the Stanley Cup playoffs in a few select locations. This would limit travel and keep each division in one arena. It would be tough on families but it looks like the only way to finish the season. The NHL does not seem worried about when the season will finish, and I’m sure it’s hoping to play next season with fans in the seats, although that may not happen until next January (the likely start date for the new regular season).
Thumbs up to Michael Jordan for being so honest in the new series out about his Chicago Bulls basketball team. I cannot wait to watch the next few episodes. It is a must-watch on Netflix.
By Doug Kennedy