Thursday, December 1, 2016

Three points for a regulation victory? Yes, please . . . and a blog flashback

Has the time come for the NHL to award three points to a team that wins a regular-season game in regulation time? Pierre LeBrun of espn.com says it has. He says it’s time for the NHL to go to a 3-2-1 points system, something that was discussed at the league level more than 10 years ago. However, it doesn’t sound like the idea will get much, if any, traction with NHL execs. Brian Burke, for example, says he would “rather put a sharp stick in my eye.” . . . LeBrun’s piece is right here.
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Three points for a regulation victory — and doing away with loser points — is something that has long been discussed in this space. For the longest time, Dan Russell, when he was the host of the Vancouver radio show Sports Talk, and I often talked of the need for hockey to stop rewarding losers.
What follows appeared on this blog on Nov. 13, 2008.
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The hockey game is in overtime. A defenceman has the puck in the left corner of his zone. In trying to clear the zone, he throws the puck into the middle of the ice. An opposing forward corrals it, skates in and scores the winning goal.
In the dressing room after the game, the head coach of the losing team berates the defenceman for what was a critical error.
“What’s the big deal, coach?” responds the player. “We still got a point.”
Yes, indeed, the team lost the game in overtime but still was rewarded with a point.
And therein lies the rub — of the ‘major’ sports, hockey is the only one that rewards failure.
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Obviously, this has bastardized hockey statistics to the point of ridiculousness. For example, a player scores the game-winning goal in a shootout but statistics don’t credit him with a goal. A goaltender stops 10 shooters in the shootout but his save percentage doesn’t reflect it.
The standings show one team with a 6-9-0-5 record. But hasn’t that team really won six games and lost 14?
Never mind that the shootout takes what coaches preach is a “team game” and turns it into an individual sport.
And we won’t even get into coaching records. It used to be that a head coach’s record was measured in wins, losses and ties. These days, if a coach has been around long enough, you need five categories — wins, losses, ties, overtime losses and shootout losses — to chart his career. And how dumb is that? Go ahead, you try and figure out Don Hay’s actual winning percentage as a WHL head coach.
Geez, remember when a loss was a loss was a loss?
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Bill Motiuk is a hockey fan. And like a lot of us — hello there, Dan Russell — he despises the present system of awarding two points for a regulation-time victory and three points — two to the winner, one to the loser — of anything that goes beyond that. Loser points really are the scourge of hockey, aren't they?
So Motiuk put on his thinking cap and came up with a system that he says is “based on the business principle that the longer it takes you to get the job done, the more it will cost you.”
When I first looked at his idea, I thought, ‘Ah, what’s the big deal?’ But the more I thought about it and the more I re-read it and the more I absorbed it, the more it grew on me. And now I’m sold.
But in order to be sold on this, you have to go along with this premise:
Some games are worth three points, some are worth two and some are worth one. At first, I wasn’t enthused about that part, but the more I thought about it, well . . .
To begin with, this system puts a three-point value on a regulation-time victory. The winner gets three points; the loser doesn’t get a thing. “To get the three points,” Motiuk says, “you must win in regulation time.”
OK, but what if the game goes into overtime?
An overtime victory is worth two points. Again, the loser doesn’t get anything. “Being tied at the end of regulation deserves nothing,” he explains, “because it wasn’t a tie game and overtime only signified that the end of the first stage did not produce a winner. The winner in overtime only gets two points (as opposed to three) because he didn’t get the job done in regulation time.”
OK, but what if the game goes to a shootout?
The winner of the shootout would receive one point. The loser, again, wouldn’t get a thing.
“The eventual winner ends up forfeiting two points he could have obtained, again for not getting the job done in regulation time,” Motiuk reasons. “At the end of the night, the loser gets nothing because we should not be rewarding losers and there are no longer any tie games under the current system.”
The CFL has long gotten raked over the coals in some corners for awarding a single point on some missed field-goal attempts. But the NHL, the WHL and many other leagues also reward failure by giving points to teams that lose in overtime or a shootout.
“We only have tie segments,” Motiuk points out. “We do not give points for ties at the end of the first and second periods. So why give a point for a tie at the end of the third period? Why reward a team with a point when they lose in overtime? Ditto in the shootout.”
And that, folks, is my favourite part of all this and the thing that really validates it. If you are going to play overtime and if you are going to have shootouts, why give anything to teams for being tied at the end of the third period? As Motiuk points out, teams don't get anything for being tied at the end of the first and second periods.
The way he has it figured, this “would change the whole dynamic of the game.”
“The intensity of the game would be predicated by the three points available before the end of the third period,” he says.
Under this system, should teams be tied near the end of the third period they would be pulling out all stops in an effort to score. After all, score and win and you get three points; go to overtime and you will get two, one or zero points.

Hey, from where I sit, it makes sense. And it certainly is better than the system now in place. Which is why it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance.

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