Thursday, October 2, 2008


I think it's time I get something of my chest.

While I think the current state of professional hockey, and for that matter the National Hockey League, is arguably the strongest we have ever seen as fans, there is one portion of the record that absolutely needs to be changed.

The loser point.

In sport, you have winners and losers. Winners are rewarded with points and/or wins in the standings. The losers get zip, except for that additional mark in the loss column that pushes them one step closer to the golf course and the first tee.

The overtime loss point in the NHL is cheap. It downgrades the spirit of competition. Force overtime in 10 regular season games, lose every one in overtime and still come away with 10 additional points?

Not right.

Being rewarded for losing doesn't have a place in a professional sports league. It's reminiscent of little Sally or Johnny being awarded a soccer trophy just for competing.

What's the point?

The time has come for the NHL to do the right thing. Award teams two points for a win and ZERO points for a loss, regardless if the loss was sustained in regulation, overtime or the shootout. End the conversations between fans heading to arena exits lamenting their team's loss but being grateful it happened in overtime or the shootout "so at least they get a point".

And while we're at it, it's time to drop the policy of awarding the top three conference seeds to the three divisional winners. Let's give these seeds to the top three record holders.

It will allow to chance the structure of how we read standings everyday. Have a win column and a loss column. Forget points and go off winning percentage and "games behind" like they do in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. This simplifies the standing for fans making the entire process easier to read and more fan friendly.

How would it look and how would it change playoff scenarios?

Below is a model based on the final standings in the Western Conference last season. All overtime and shootout losses have been included in the loss column. The final standings in the west last spring looked like this:

1. Detroit 54 21 7 115
2. San Jose 49 23 10 108
3. Minnesota 44 28 10 98
4. Anaheim 47 27 8 102
5. Dallas 45 30 7 97
6. Colorado 44 31 7 95
7. Calgary 42 30 10 94
8. Nashville 41 32 9 91
9. Edmonton 41 35 6 88
10. Chicago 40 34 8 88
11. Vancouver 39 33 10 88
12. Phoenix 38 37 7 83
13. Columbus 34 36 12 80
14. St. Louis 33 36 13 79
15. Los Angeles 32 43 7 71

2007-08 Western Conference Playoffs: Opening Round

1-Detroit vs 8-Nashville
2-San Jose vs 7-Calgary
3-Minnesota vs 6-Colorado
4-Anaheim vs 5-Dallas

Under the proposal of using strictly wins and losses and going off a "games behind" format, last season's final Western Conference regular season standings would have broken out like this:

1. Detroit 54 28 ---
2. San Jose 49 33 5
3. Calgary 42 30 7
4. Anaheim 47 35 7.5
5. Dallas 45 37 8
6. Minnesota* 44 38 10
7. Colorado 44 38 10
8. Nashville# 41 41 13
9. Edmonton 41 41 13
10. Chicago 40 42 14
11. Vancouver 39 43 15
12. Phoenix 38 44 16
13. Columbus 34 48 20
14. St. Louis 33 49 21
15. Los Angeles 32 50 22

* Minnesota wins tiebreaker with Colorado based on head to head play.
# Nashville wins tiebreaker with Edmonton based on head to head play.


1-Detroit vs 8-Nashville
2-San Jose vs 7-Colorado
3-Calgary vs 6-Minnesota
4-Anaheim vs 5-Dallas

So under the new proposal and set-up, two of the four first round playoff matches would have changed. Minnesota would have lost home ice while Calgary would have gained home ice. The Flames would have improved their ranking by four spots, moving from #7 to #3. Anaheim would have secured the final home ice spot by beating out Dallas by a "half game". All non-playoff teams would have remained the same.

So what do you think? Seems pretty fair to me.

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