Time to lose the NHL’s loser point

Written by ECA Review

It’s time for the National Hockey League to get rid of the loser point.

While it may help to keep lousy teams “above .500” and helps to tighten up the standings so more teams have a shot at a playoff berth, the loser point given to a team that loses a game in either overtime or a shootout is an abomination.

Fans of the Calgary Flames, for instance, think their team is performing decently because it had won five more games than it had lost in regulation time.

Twelve other losses, however, came in overtime or a shootout, and the Flames benefitted with 12 extra points, tied with Dallas for most in the league.

Those extra points are loser points.

Or maybe it’s a bonus point. Supporters of the current system say that if 60 minutes of hockey winds up a tie, each team legitimately earns one point, just like it was in the old days before the three-point games came into effect for the 1999-2000 season.

An overtime or shootout win then awards an additional point.

Let’s examine the Flames situation a little closer. As of Feb. 26, the Flames had 27 regulation-time victories and 20 losses. They also had 12 OT or shootout losses, giving them 63 points and a third-place standing in the Western Conference’s wildcard race, two points out of a playoff spot behind wild-card leaders Edmonton and Minnesota.

In essence, though, the Flames had won 27 games and lost 32 and with a record like that, coach Darryl Sutter would be expecting to be fired. But the standings show the Flames have a .559 winning percentage thanks to their league-leading loser point total.

The loser-point system is also an excitement killer and people who run the league should be concerned about that. The last half of third periods of tie games often turn into kitty-bar-the-door snoozefests as teams look forward to getting at least one point and then a chance for a second point in the carnival games they play after 60 minutes.

The NHL is the only professional sports league with such a system. A better setup would be to award three points for a regulation-time win; two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss, and zero points for a 60-minute defeat.

At least that would require teams to go all out in the dying minutes for a win in regulation.

Overall, the loser point offers teams a false sense of success. Fans may be happy with their team’s 30-26-12 record, but a general manager needs no reminder that his team has lost eight more games than it has won.

Loser points are for losers.

Slap shots
• British columnist Alan Tyers did not think much of Full Swing, the Netflix documentary on professional golf: “(Full Swing) shanks it horribly off the tee, into a pond, tries to roll its trousers up and hit the ball out of the pond, falls over into the pond … needs rescuing by a frogman, eventually catches Weil’s Disease and suffers massive organ failure, and dies, horribly …”
• Vancouver comedy guy Steve Burgess, referencing the proliferation of gambling in the world of sports: “I am guessing we’re a year or two away from teams being awarded the Super Bowl only if they cover the spread.”
• Steve Simmons of Sunmedia: “The CFL schedule is a mess. Bo Levi Mitchell, the former Stampeder, doesn’t play in Calgary this season. Cody Fajardo, the former Roughrider, does not play in Saskatchewan. The CFL is a gate-driven business. This is a lost opportunity.”
• Columnist Rob Vanstone in his farewell column in the Regina Leader-Post: “Be assured that dogs are much more popular than sports columnists. As a bonus, dogs can be housebroken.”
• ’Moneyball’ author Michael Lewis, quoting sabermetrician Bill James on former Blue Jay Cecil Fielder’s girth: “Cecil Fielder acknowledges a weight of 261, leaving unanswered the question of what he might weigh if he put his other foot on the scale”
• Golfweek’s  Eamon Lynch, on the latest recruits for LIV golf tour: “The promised signings of seven star players delivered Dean Burmester and Danny Lee, who wouldn’t be considered top-drawer in a one-drawer world. “
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: ‘The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour is struggling.  The Saudi LIV Golf tour brought a new and scary meaning to making the cut.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Reuters reports U.S. scientists have designed an ‘invisibility cloak’ and have had success making things disappear. Who have they been testing it on recently, the Vancouver Canucks?”
• Headline at theonion.com: “New FanDuel ‘Double Play’ Contest Offers Users Chance To Win Back House”
• Another one from theonion.com: “Chiefs Second Super Bowl Win Proves Anything Possible If You Don’t Trade Up To Draft Mitch Trubisky”
Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca

by Bruce Penton

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ECA Review