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.