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Fixing The NHL

from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,

Fix the standings and kill the loser point

The NHL standings are broken and everyone knows it. Awarding extra points for overtime games was ridiculous enough in an era when the league wanted to reduce ties, but it's downright nonsensical in a world where the shootout exists. The loser point deadens third periods by encouraging teams to play for overtime, makes the playoff races worse, and adds confusing columns to the standings that new fans are bound to struggle with. And — in what is almost certainly a feature and not a bug — it artificially inflates everyone's records so that all but a few teams can claim to be "over .500" every year.

It's an embarrassment. But here's the crucial problem: The current system is so dumb that every replacement you could come up with would be an improvement. And that actually makes it more difficult to create momentum for change, because it becomes impossible to get a consensus.

So let's start by just stipulating that literally anything would be better than what we have now. Once we've done that, we really can't go wrong. Everyone onboard? Cool.

read on

added 1:20pm, from Katie Baker of Grantland,

So it turns out the NHL has a few things to work on during its summer vacation. But things aren't all bad! Here, in no particular order, are 15 things the NHL should never change.

The Hockumentaries

Over the last few years, the NHL (and its U.S. broadcast partner NBC) has invested time and resources into emulating some of the NFL's successful NFL Films and NFL Network models. (The league's COO, John Collins, came from football.) Results have been up and down — the NHL Network remains frustratingly understaffed, and some of the early efforts to mimic the successful 24/7 lacked the HBO series' punch — but increasingly teams are getting into the mix on an individual level, with good results.

24/7 remains the gold standard of behind-the-scenes hockey programming, but shows like Oil Change and Becoming Wild, as well as the new Flyers production, show hockey players as humans while also underscoring just how difficult and unlikely the life of the professional athlete is.


Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


NHLJeff's avatar

That first article is a great read with a lot of sensible ideas for changes. Haven’t read the second one yet.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 08/08/13 at 02:47 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Haven’t read the second one yet.

I usually like her work, but that’s just the regular “hockey is awesome” thing we always have.

Who else loved the race for draft picks?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/08/13 at 03:17 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

Fix the standings and kill the loser point

Been saying that for years. How on earth can a point for losing be justified?

You’ve lost. You get nothing. Period.  End the shootout, and, go back to the format of a point a piece when a game ends in a tie.

LetsGo Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 08/08/13 at 03:17 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 08/08/13 at 03:17 PM ET

I agree completely, but I think we are in the tiniest of minorities. Most North American sports fans seem to be allergic to the idea of a game ending in a tie/draw. I’m not sure I understand why, but it is what it is and I don’t expect the NHL to ever have ties again.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/08/13 at 03:29 PM ET


I understand, and mostly agree with “you lost, you get nothing” but I also think that if you win, but it takes you 65 minutes and a skills competition, why should you get full points?

I think it should be 2 poits for a win and 0 for a loss, but only if there’s no shootout.  As long as there’s a shootout, winning and losing that way should not be equal to winning or losing by playing hockey.  Whether it’s 2 for a win and 1 for a loss or 1 for a win and 0 for a loss, I think it’s better than giving 2 for a win in the shootout and 0 for a loss.

Posted by Garth on 08/08/13 at 03:44 PM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

All right. We’ll call it a draw.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 08/08/13 at 03:52 PM ET


Go back to home whites!

Posted by RJ on 08/08/13 at 04:01 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Herm, I also LOVED the race for the top pick idea. It just makes so much sense and would allow for fans of those teams to still have plenty of excitement with their games still having plent of meaning. I guess the only minor issue I see with it is that maybe the players don’t want to play hard for their team to get a top pick that could end up quickly taking a roster spot. I don’t think that would be a major deterrent though.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 08/08/13 at 04:12 PM ET


I also think that if you win, but it takes you 65 minutes and a skills competition, why should you get full points?

I’ve been pushing it a bit further for awhile, Garth.  A regulation win has to be worth more than an overtime win which has to be worth more than a shootout win (though getting rid of the shootout all together would be monumentally more appealing), all while every game gives out the same number of points.  The 2-point game, 3-point game ludicrousness that goes on now is a farce.  Unfortunately there’s no way of doing that without radically changing the point system which the NHL won’t do because they think the average fan is too dumb to follow such a change.

So instead we’ll be stuck with the same stupid system and get to read the same stupid articles from idiot “reporters” talking about how they adjusted the standings based on a 3 point system and things didn’t really change so whey are we making a big deal about it, as if changing the rules wouldn’t possibly change the way the game was played and the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love watching the NHL and get way more enjoyment out of it than watching any other sport, but the product could be way better.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 08/08/13 at 04:33 PM ET


Considering how many suggestions he made, I liked just about all of them. If I had to make a choice of take them all or leave them all. I would take them all in a heartbeat.

Posted by timbits on 08/08/13 at 04:37 PM ET

Mistercristo's avatar

Sean McIndoe (i.e. Down Goes Brown) is better at what he does than almost anyone with a computer or a TV camera in front of them.  He strikes the perfect balance between humo(u)r and wit.  I’m in complete agreement.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 08/08/13 at 07:25 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

I shared his story on facebook earlier today.  I would buy all of his arguments (even the slightly bigger nets.  Much more sensible than Buccigross’s 8’x6’ idea or however big he wanted them).  However, I would have still finished the story with “Fire Bettman”.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 08/08/13 at 08:18 PM ET


I’ll take anything but a tie.  A Texas cowbell wrestling match would be better than a tie.

Posted by SlimChance on 08/09/13 at 12:03 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Garth, I agree with you man, great post. As I’ve said a number of times, I’d prefer just going back to the old W-L-T structure before they did the OTL experiments and then went to shootouts. But given the reality that ties are gone for good, and the shootout is very likely here to stay, your proposal is exactly what needs to happen. A regulation or OT win should be worth more points than a SO win, since it was won by a team playing the game of hockey together over a 60 - 65 minute period.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/09/13 at 08:31 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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