The NHL is back, thank god. But so is the shootout.
There is a problem with the shootout: it’s anticlimactic, especially after the exciting 3-on-3 OT that precedes it. And it does not resemble the sport of hockey enough to warrant the significant impact over the league standings that it often has.
Most hockey fans want the shootout to be replaced by more sudden death OT, especially since 3-on-3 hockey tends not to go on for too long before a goal is scored anyway. The problem is, the stars who have to play the most in those OT periods are understandably wary of extending their duration and further increasing their intensity.
The solution is simple: for the 2nd OT period, do not let any players from the 1st OT play. And in the 3rd OT period, don’t let any players from the 1st or 2nd OTs play.
If the game is still not over after these 15 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, then you can either have a shootout (shootouts will actually become exciting again, by virtue of being rare!), or else go on to a 4th OT period in which the 1st-OT players can play again (just like how, in a shootout, a player can go for a second turn once everyone else on his team has taken a turn themselves).
So, NHL, make this change. And make it now. It’s a hell of a lot less radical then breaking your league into Canadian and American halves, after all…