There are a number of things about today’s NHL that annoy me as a hockey fan. The shootout, for one: this is 100% a crapshoot, in my view. The number of teams that make the playoffs, for another. But the one thing that annoys me the most about the NHL is the “loser” point for those teams that lose the game in overtime or the shootout. I know the loser point has contributed to parity in the league, but it has done so by artificially creating a logjam in the standings, especially in the later part of the season. Moving up the standings is difficult even when you’re playing well, as the teams in front of you are frequently picking up points even when they are losing.
There have been occasional proposals to change the system for awarding of points. Most that I have seen have involved making a regulation win more valuable by awarding three points for such a victory. Others have involved simply getting rid of the loser point. This has merit, especially since games can no longer end in ties. (Remember that the original rationale for the loser point was to cut down on the practice of “playing for a tie” to get a point and hold your opponent to one.) With no ties possible, why award a loser point to discourage what can no longer happen?
However, I do not think this proposal goes far enough. What is needed is a system that rewards regulation-time, “regular” victories (that happen because your team played better in the 60 minutes of “real hockey”) and properly penalizes, rather than rewards, losing. I propose the following: two points for a regulation victory, one point for an overtime or shootout victory, and zero points for a loss.
The main benefit to this system is that teams will be encouraged to play for a regulation win, which (to me) is the desired outcome of any game. If you are unable to beat your opponent fair and square in regulation time (when real 5-on-5 hockey is being played), your punishment is that you only get one point instead of two, even if you win in overtime or the “skills competition.” And there is NO reward for losing.
Now, I’m sure there are plenty of arguments that can be made against this plan, but I am not interested in arguments that speak to “parity” or how the standings will change under this proposal. My rationale for this system is based purely on the principle that a regulation victory is the desired outcome and should be encouraged.
What do you think? Comments, as always, are welcome.