The Loser Point

Before the 2009 – 2010 season disappears forever, it’s time for one last rant.  With the NHL meeting to discuss rule changes it seems appropriate to rant on a particularly irritating NHL phenomenon: the loser point.

Take a look at the final Western Conference standings from last season:


Seed    Team    Pts.      Record

1          SJ        113      51-20-11

2          CHI     112      52-22-8

3          VAN    103      49-28-5

4          PHX    107      50-25-7

5          DET     102      44-24-14

6          LA       101      46-27-9

7          NAS    100      47-29-6

8          COL    95        43-30-9


Notice anything strange?  How about the fact that DET and LA were seeded higher than Nashville despite the fact that Nashville had more wins? 


As Herm Edwards so eloquently put it, “Hello?!  You play to win the game!”  So why does the NHL reward an overtime lose with a bonus point?  Every major sports league in the world, from the NFL to the Australian Women’s Basketball League, has figured out that awarding a loser point is just stupid.  If the NHL simply eliminated the loser point, the 09-10 standings would have looked like this:


Seed    Team    Pts.

1          CHI     104     

2          SJ        102

3          VAN    98

4          PHX    100

5          NAS    94

6          LA       92

7          DET     88

8          COL    86


As you can see the same eight teams would have made the playoffs, but the seeds would have been quite different (as in the Eastern Conference).  Nashville, for example, would have drawn Phoenix in the first round rather than Chicago.  Obviously nobody knows how/if this would have changed the end result of the playoffs.  My point is that Nashville defeated 3 more opponents than Detroit; they deserved a higher seed.


The 3-2-1 “Solution”

There has been some talk that the NHL is considering a 3-2-1 point system in which a regulation win is worth 3 pts, a OT/Shootout win is worth 2 pts, and an OT/Shootout lose is worth 1 pt.  I have two problems with this.  First, this system still awards a point to the losing team.  Second, an OT win is a legitimate win in my opinion.  Why should it be worth less than a regulation win? 


The Coin Toss Shootout

The only justification that I’ve heard for the NHL’s bizarre loser point is that owners/GMs would never accept walking away from a shootout empty handed.  This is due to the random nature of the shootout.  I can understand this argument, because shootouts were really only instituted so fans could go home at reasonable hour with a final result to cheer/gripe about.  However, if a owner/GM/coach/player is willing to accept a shootout loser point, the Herm Edwards in me says, “Get out!”



My suggestion for the 2010 – 2011 NHL season is that they simply do away with the OT loser point.  Regulation and OT wins would be worth 2 pts, with 0 pts going to the loser.  Shootout wins could still be worth 2 pts with a magical 3rd point going to the loser.  This would allow the standings to more accurately reflect the performance of each team, but would not give anyone a chance to call foul.  Ultimately the NHL would be one step closer to a league in which everyone play to win the game.

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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