Rewarding for Losing

Ever since the induction of the Overtime Loss, this has bothered me to no end.

In the NHL, the concept at least makes some sense. Teams play to 60 minutes. If no winner is found in the 60 minutes, the game goes to overtime. If overtime does not settle it, to ensure games do not go long into the night, a shootout is set. Since a team did not lose in regulation time, only in overtime, they get a point for playing 60 minutes and not losing. It’s similar to a tie.

The problem with this, is it is not a tie. The NHL abolished ties when they decided games must be completed with a shootout. It is a loser point. It’s rewarding a team for losing the game. It’s saying to them, “Hey, the overtime/shootout is really just a way to wrap things up, heres a point for your troubles!”. The real dirty thing about it, is the NHL standings have been molested and it has kept teams out of the Playoffs.

Looking back at 2006-07, you had teams who had as high as 16 overtime loss points in the season. Even successful teams like Vancouver and Detroit had double digit overtime loss points. Say we completely cut out the OTL and had the NHL season much like in Basketball (Where they have no problem playing continuous overtime). In the NBA, there is a Win column and a Loss column. No freebee points.

Say we adjusted the season into just being Win/Loss, the ’07 season. The Eastern Conference would have come down like this:

1. Buffalo
2. New Jersey
3. Tampa Bay
4. Ottawa
5. Pittsburgh
6. Atlanta
7. NYR
8. Montreal

A little different, no? Tampa would have won their division and Montreal would have been in the playoffs. How about the West?

1. Nashville
2. San Jose
3. Vancouver
4. Detroit
5. Dallas
6. Anaheim
7. Minnesota
8. Colorado

Yup. Take out that OTL and base it on wins, and things look a lot different. The Avs hard run at the end of the season would have lead to a playoff birth, and the Flames would have been on the outside. The Canucks and Ducks would have had a deadly first round series.

As you can see, there are two serious victims last season to the Overtime Loss: Montreal and Colorado. For every excuse Habs fans make for their season, none is more justified than the fact they were the 8th Winningest team in the Eastern Conference, but were behind two teams in the Eastern Conference standings. Colorado made an impressive push into the post season, only to be beaten by a team that lost in overtime/shootout three times more. A lot of the whining and complaining would have been defeated had the season been set up about rewarding teams for WINS, not for losses.

So, the solution? Some want to play it safe and reward a win 3 points instead of 2. That way, winning a game is more important. However, they still want to keep this 1 point for the OTL. The truth is, the entire point system needs to be discarded. You should have 82 games, win or lose decides your record, and your .500 statistic matters. Some may ask about tie breakers, but load up TSN to look at the NBA standings, and only one team had the same amount of wins. Really, after the .500 record, it would become a breakdown of likely the Goals For/Goals Against record of the team. The team who scored the most and let in the less between the two teams gets the birth.

The truth is, the 2 point/1 point system is a leftover from the tie system. You got one point if you tied, but the reason was is there were only TWO POINTS up for grabs. If you win, its 2 points for ONE team. If you lose, ZERO. If you tie, those two points are separated. Now we have a system where there are two points up for grabs… until the 60 minutes is over. Then a magical extra point pops out of nowhere to be given out.

The loser point needs to be abolished.

46 Responses to Rewarding for Losing

  1. antmonkey says:

    I also dislike the OTL point. It should just be 2 pts or no points. If you lose, you lose. who cares how long it takes, you still lost the game.

  2. simplyhabby says:

    I think I am one of the few people who like the current system and being a hab fan at that.

    It goes back to the old system that there was no OT and there was just a tie.  The 5 min OT was then added on then the 4 on 4 which is actually pretty exciting to watch.  (I was not a fan of this change to begin with and it would also be interesting to see if more games are actually decided in OT because of the change)

    Lets face it, Montreal did not deserve to make the playoffs noting the 3rd period of the final game of the year.

    I am not a fan of the 3 point system (we are not soccer) and for the love of god, do not ever institute the shootout in the playoffs!

  3. antmonkey says:

    agreed, no shootout in playoffs. The best series always include a double or triple overtime. The day they institute shootouts in the playoffs is the day I stop watching them.

  4. eron says:

    Shootout should never decide a Stanley Cup. I think thats pretty clear.  It has never even been considered.

    However, as I explained in the Opinion piece, the old system had only 2 points on the line.  If you tied, you split the 2 points.  Now, we give the two points to the winner, and a bonus point for the loser?

    It makes no sense because every game should be for all of the points on the line.  If there is 3 points on the line, then three points should be given to the winner.  Instead, that third point only shows up if the game goes into overtime.

    A third period of the final game shouldn't mean squat.  Wins should mean everything.  The whole point of team sports is the team who wins the most should succeed the most in the end.  Montreal and Colorado won more games than the teams who advanced to the Playoffs.  It makes no sense.

  5. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    I say either do:

    60 minutes (plus 5 of OT) if its tied, both teams get a point, if somebody wins(regardless of OT) they get 2 points, and the loser gets 0


    Do the shootout, but dont give away the one point.

    ALL games should give out the same # of points. These 2 point and 3 point games are redicuals.

  6. Sharks06 says:

    This has been talked about many times. My opinion is still:

    Overtimes should be 10 minutes instead of 5.

    2 points for an overtime win, 0 for an overtime loss

    if the teams are still tied after the 10 minute overtime, teams get 1 point each go into a shootout. nobody should lose out on a point for a gimmick Gary Buttman came up during the lockout.

    winner of the shootout gets the extra point.

    it's that simple.

  7. antmonkey says:

    so if I have one more win than a divisional rival and they lose in over time twice more than me, they should be tied with me? that doesn't make sense. The more you lose (as long as you take a long time to do it) you can potentially get more points than teams with more wins. That should be illegal.

  8. simplyhabby says:

    Its just a matter of opinion.  On the flipside to your point, the team earns a point for the tie during regulation.  OT is a bonus.

    Just because Montreal had more wins then a team who made the playoffs, doen't mean they had played better hockey.

    For instance you can go 4-3-0 vs. 4-0-3.  Points aside, who played better hockey?  The team who lost 3 times during regulation or the team who made it to OT and lost?  Again, not discrediting your points which are vaild, its just opinion. 

  9. eron says:

    Once again, three points are being given out for shootout games.  2 points to the winner, 1 to the loser.  You call it a gimmick but you're fine with allowing it to decide who gets into the playoffs with the "extra" point?

  10. simplyhabby says:

    Of note, while you did not consider shootouts in the playoffs, it has been an idea thrown around the league for a couple years now since the conception of the regular season shootout.

  11. Sharks06 says:

    i didnt say they would get any points for losing in OVERTIME.

    i'm saying they would get 1 point if they lost in the SHOOTOUT.

    The shootout is a gimmick, it shouldnt have happened to begin with. Teams shouldnt lose the point they would have gotten if the game had ended in a tie for it.

  12. eron says:

    Of course its opinion, these are opinion pieces.  No heat baby 🙂

    To figure out who played better hockey, you can't just look at the record.  The team that went 4-3-0 could have lost every game by one goal, but they were well contested games.  The team that went 4-0-3 won each game 1-0 due to playing extensive trap hockey and won all their games in the shootout, not on the ice.  Who is really the better team?

    The point is, OT and Shootout should not be some "Bonus Round".  Hockey is not a game show, its god-damn hockey.  If you win you succeed, if you lose you don't.  We don't decide the playoffs on a point system and neither should we decide the regular season.  Either we bring back the tie, or get serious on our rewards.

  13. habsoverserver says:

    as rojoke has often said – who needs points – winning percentage is enough.  82 games 41 wins is .500 forget about ties and loser points.  just make it simple like baseball and basketball. 

  14. Sharks06 says:

    Theres only 2 ways to remedy that:

    1. get rid of the shootout completely, go back to ties after overtime if the teams are still tied.

    2. keep playing 20 minute overtimes until someone finally scores, like in the playoffs. I personally like 3OT games. The players and TV stations might not like that however.

  15. Sharks06 says:

    I'd much rather have 3 points given out for shootout games than in overtime games like it is now.

    making overtimes longer, by making them 10 or even 20 minutes, would make shootouts less frequent anyways.

  16. Cards85 says:

    Say hello to finding out what 8 teams make the playoffs about 3 to 4 months in advance if this happens.

  17. leaffansareajoke says:

    On the flip side, SO's need to be removed in my opinion.

    I'm ok with a tie game, because for christ sake, tie games have been around for a long long time.  To many ways to get points anymore, and a team should never be rewarded for losing a game.

    The tie game setup was perfect for hockey.  Both teams get one point.  Only 2 points per game should be possible, not 3 with an overtime win for one team and loss for another.

  18. leaffansareajoke says:

    Yeah you beat me to it, i had the same exact opinion.

    Imagine that eh?  Me and you agreeing!

  19. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    wierd eh, espewcially since the leafs and flyers combined for 23 OT and SO losses last season

  20. eron says:

    While I enjoy the race to the final playoff spot as much as the next person, I think teams having to deal with the fact a loss could seriously impact them instead of, "Oh, well, he trapped them for 60 so we get the OTL point" means the individual games will be tougher.  No-one is going to lazy out in the last 10 games when they got their playoff spot to rest their players if a 5 game winning streak at the end of the season could mean a playoff birth against a team with a 5 game losing streak.

    If the individual games get more exciting because more is on the line, I'll do away with 5 teams racing for one 8th spot.

  21. kamullia says:

    OTLs have been around long enough that I do not realize the problem with people getting used to them. But what it comes down is that the NHL gives out 2 points for games that end in regulation, and 3 points for games that end outside regulation time. However, they have been doing this for a long while since they decided to give a point to any losing team in extra time.

    Hence the debate should be not if the NHL should give out OTL points, but if the NHL should have games worth 3 points.

    There are three options here:

    1. Stay with the present system. This is in essence, if both teams end tied in regulation, they both have earned 1 Point. They get an extra point in the extra time or SO. There can be variations to this, like when the NHL still had 3 point games but no SO.
    2. Get rid of the extra point in extra time. That means that all games are worth 2 points, with no exception. However, this means no reward for having tied in regulation, which means no tie points, and no OTL. You win, you get 2. You lose, you go empty handed, even if it was in OT or SO.
    3. Make all games 3 point games. I do not particularly dislike the present system, but this might not be a bad idea. You win in regulation, you get 3 points. You tie in regulation, each team gets a point, and they fight it out for that extra point. The game is still worth 3 points because 2 points go to the winner in OT/SO and 1 to the loser. Opponents of this system point out that teams if the present system is rewarding a team by reaching a tie in regulation, then the all games are 3 points system punishes all teams for reaching a tie, because in essence both will at least lose a point, if not two, and there is no denying it.

    I do not have much of a problem with #1 or #3, but I am not too fond of the #2 option. Having all games be worth the same is a fair system of itself, even if going to extra-time means losing points. But that might make things interesting, because you'd figure the first 60 minutes, and especially the last 20 mins of regulation, both teams will pull all stops to ensure 3 points, especially during the last stretch of the playoff race. If staying with an extra point being awarded in the present system for OT/SO, I am fine with that also, even if I do not like the SO. I am fine with a tie, and I think the SO is nothing but a gimmick, not hockey of itself. My point for the SO is this, if it is fine to have it in regular season and win any game in that fashion, then it should be fine to win a game in the post-season the same way, and even the Stanley Cup. And since I do not like the idea of a cup being won by SO, why should any game be won by SO? But if they are going to use it, then really use it and have it during the playoffs and the finals. The FIFA World Cup, the highest and most renown sports event in the entire world at least has the cojones to have a SO in all games, including the final. I do not like the SO deciding the FIFA World Champion either, but at least they put the SO in and used it everywhere. This SO only outside the playoffs is ridiculous.

    But it is an even field regardless, because all teams have to adhere by the same rules from the start to the end of the season. And the typical gripe is of who gets left out and who barely makes it with the present system, which in essence presumes that some teams did not belong. Well, plenty of low seed playoff teams, regardless of how they got in, have proven their worth in the post-season. Cut it which way you want it, Edmonton got in with the 8th seed, and ended up only 1 win away from the cup stretching the finals to seven games not too long ago. And you can find plenty of 8th seeds who beat the #1 seeds, therefore to me that argument is meaningless.

    The argument should be about if it is fair in general or not to have the present system where some games are worth 3 points and others 2 points
    , not what the final seeds were.

  22. mojo19 says:

    Traditionalists hate my idea. But if you want to keep a shootout in and give extra points, here's my idea:

    You'll hate this but each game is worth 5 points:

    If the game is settled in regulation: Winner 5, Loser 0
    If the game is settled in Overtime: Winner 4, Loser 1
    If the game is settled in a shootout: Winner 3, Loser 2

    This way, a shootout victory isn't worth as much as a regulation win, which it shouldn't be! Also an overtime win is worth slightly less than a regulation win, which it should be anyways. And a shootout loss is practically a tie, with the shootout winner getting a little extra. It makes regulation wins worth so much more!

    I think this is a fair system. There's no way winning a tie game in a shootout should be worth as much as winning a game 5-0, but right now thats the way it is.

    What do you think of my system?

  23. mojo19 says:

    Well you guys are agreeing on something that makes sense. Each game should be worth the same. I have a 5 point system that many people don’t like, but some do, if you want to read down below.

  24. jarcpitre says:

    Personally I've never been a fan of the shootout and never will. A shootout takes at least 15mins to complete, it would be nice if they took this time and added it to like a 10min overtime 4 on 4. The only think I don't like about the shootout is that its a team game and it took the whole team to get the tie, then it all boils down to 5 selected for the shootout, much more excitement in OT IMO.

  25. jarcpitre says:

    Agree totally with the 10min overtime, but would like to see the shootout done away with. I really think with the extra overtime minutes 4 on 4, then alot of games would be decided.

  26. rojoke says:

    The problem I see with a system like this is that games are unequal, and the goal for the season is to get as many points as possible, instead of winning as many games as possible.  You could have three or four teams win the same number of games after a season, but have a significant point difference.  I mean, who really cares how long it took to win the game, you still won it.

    And I know that some people really like the 4-on-4 overtime, but in all the time it's been in the league, it does absolutely nothing for me.  Teams don't forecheck, they retreat and wait for a change of possession.  Because that's much easier to do over a five minute period, when you're three forward lines suddenly turn into four.  If you're playing 45-second shifts, that's six shifts in the extra frame.  I'd much rather see a 10-minute overtime period, where it's a lot harder to play a hurry-up-and-wait style.

  27. rojoke says:

    Want to make it novel, exciting, but still competitive.  How about this.

    Each team puts one skater and their goalie on the ice.  The puck is placed at centre ice.  The skaters stand on their own blueline, or start from behind their blueline, and at the referee's whistle, it's a race for the puck.  It's a one-on-one battle, and each player gets a possession, with at least one chance to score.  All rebounds are live.  If a goalie freezes the puck, his teammate gets possession behind his net and can advance it up the ice.  After each player has been given an opportunity to score, or after a specific time (1 to 2 min max), and neither has scored, two new skaters.  First goal wins.

  28. PointMeAtTheSky says:

    The title says it all. Teams are being rewarded for losing. And it stinks. I understand they want to reward teams for getting to a tie-breaker, but at the same time it defeats the purpose of the tie breaker.

    Wins should be the number 1 criteria for play-off eligibility. The distinction between regular and overtime losses could be used as a tie-breaker or something.

    I like the shoot-out, I find it fun and exciting. And really, during the regular reason, there's no time for long overtimes. I think the 5 minutes of overtime should be 5 on 5, and then if there's no winner, then a shootout.

    I definitely don't think a shootout should be used  in the play-offs.

  29. simplyhabby says:

    ll that to the yanks who are not watching!

  30. mojo19 says:

    I know what you mean. A win is a win, and they should be all worth the same. But Why should a team who sneaks by in the shootout get the same points as a team who won handily 5-2 the same night? They shouldn't.

    With this system teams records will look ridiculous, and the amount of points each team will earn will look absolutely nuts, but it is the most fair way to divide up the games imo. I'm not completely sold on it myself, but I think its an interesting idea anyways.

  31. eron says:

    It has been thrown around, of course.  But, it then gets thrown into the garbage.  No-one in the League would support it.  Every single person who supports the shoot out, supports it wiht the added, "As long as it stays out of the playoffs".  Bettman may be stupid, but he isn't going to risk his job on a decision that would change the NHL forever (or at least create a season which would be forgotten in hockey history).

  32. FlamingHomer says:

    I agree. The current system is flawed. I really never had a problem with 1 point each if tied after 60 minutes.  Some sports have tied games, so why not hockey too?
    You are asking the players to go all out for 60 minutes then more all out for another 5, oh and by the way goalie, you may have to stop a half a dozen breakaways after that. All on top of an 82 game (plus exhibition games) season then try to win 16 games in the playoffs. As a player, I would think it's a bit much.
    To summarize, play 60 minutes, take your 2 points if you win, 1 if you're tied and thanks for coming if you lose.

  33. 143rs says:

    I think it should be like this:

    No overtime, just shootout (5)shots each, winner 2points loser 0 points,if nobody wins it in shootout a tie, 1 point each

  34. 2buxaslice says:

    I've been saying this for so long.  I'm glad other people agree.  Hockey is the only sport to reward losing.  Since there are no longer any ties the point system is useless and it should be like baseball with a games ahead games behind system. 

    The OT loss point was put in place because too many teams were not taking risks in OT and playing for ties.  But now that you're guaranteed a point as long as you make OT what stops teams from just playing safe if they go into the 3rd period tied?  Instead of 5 boring minutes we get 20.  Rediculous.

    I mean with this logic if Bettman took over boxing during championship fights if the challenger lost by decision he'd just give him the win and the title anyway since he lost later than other fighters who got knocked out.  It makes no sense.  Go to games ahead, games behind and get rid of points.

  35. 92-93 says:

    every year an article about this (very valid) point is posted. but usually its written and motivated by a biased fan perspective.

    so … 2 years ago the leafs would have made the playoffs so leaf fans hate the OTL format. this past year its the habs so …


    beyond this fan-biased sentiment, seriously, the NHL needs a new format. yes, call me old-fashioned, but i just dont like the shootout. and if the shootout absolutely has to be kept for whatever, the solution that i have been suggesting since the time of the lockout when the shootout rumours were really circulating is this:

    60 min regulation.
    5-minute 4-on-4
    5-minute 3-on-3
    shootout (for 5 rounds maximum)

    and if its a tie after all of this, the game ENDS IN A (gasps) TIE!!!!

    enough with the US-based demands of games not ending in a tie.

    Also, there are to be NO single points awarded for any team losing in either of the 2 stages of OT or in the shootout … only if the game ends in a tie after the shootout concludes. This also protects from teams playing for ties since how is that possible when it gets into the shootout format.

    finally, this way the games are not too long despite the extra 5 minute OT, since the shootout is capped at 5 rounds max.

    in most cases, the game will be decided BY TWO TEAMS PLAYING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER in the 3-on-3 OT (not by a single player for each team in the shootout).

    i hate the shootout for that reason – not because i am a leaf fan – but for the fact that it takes the team element out of a game that is built on playing well as a team. howabout baseball does their extra innings using only one outfielder? makes sense? NOPE.

  36. rojoke says:

    Which is why they should get rid of the points system, and use overtime and shootout records only as tie-breakers.

  37. eron says:

    It's not an American thing, its an European thing.  People need to get it out of their head that its still a Canadian game.  It's not.  It's the Worlds game, and some ways you have to adapt.  Adding Shootout is fine to regular season.  We should also be skating on International sized ice but the NHL itself *****ed that up in the early 90's.

  38. Treva says:

    A new idea

    The whole reason for the OTL point was to encourage teams to stop playing defensive hockey and go for the two points. What a stupid method. If you think about it, a team can play defensive for 65 minutes of, what some people call boring, hockey and then get a shot at 2 points.

    If you want to encourage teams to stop being defensive, make an over time loss worth 0 points a win worth two.

    then, here is the important part, Make a shoot out win 1 point a shoot out loss is worth nothing! Teams wouldn't want to go to shootouts because either way they lose.

    That is encouragement! But no one will read this since it'll be at the bottom of the page.

  39. 92-93 says:

    no i don think its a euro thing – how do you explain the popularity of soccer with all its ties?

  40. mojo19 says:

    agreed. That's a good idea. Then the shootout wouldn't be completely a waste but it also wouldn't be worth as much as a real win.

  41. mojo19 says:

    i read it. It's not a bad idea, I'd like to combine your idea with Rojoke's.

    How about this:

    OT win is worth 2 pts.
    OT loss is worth 0 pts.

    If it goes to a shootout both teams receive 1 point as if it were a tie and the shootout record is used only as for tie breakers.

  42. Treva says:

    only problem there is that teams won't play balls out cause they can play for the point.  If there is a risk of no points, you will see more teams going for it at the end of the 3rd and in OT.

  43. Milohabs says:

    I would only make 1 change.

    Win in regulation = 2pts for winner, 0 pts for loser.
    Win in OT = 2 pts winner, 0 pts loser
    Win in Shootout = 2 pts winner, 1 pnt loser (because the lose is more of a technicality).
    All that being said, the bottom line is that all 30 teams are in the same boat. yes it may have worked in Montreal's favor last year, but this year it could work against them. Every team has the same advantages & disadvantages

  44. rojoke says:

    The only (major) flaw with that is teams won't play to win in the overtime, they'll play to get the point for the shootout.

  45. beatle11 says:

    I actually like it the way it is now. You played the required 60 minutes and you didn't win or lose so you get a point. You can battle for the extra point in overtime. I'm still not sold on the idea of shootouts as hockey is supposed to be a team game but I do like the idea of the single point if you play the 60 minutes your supposed to.

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