Skip to content

Realignment should force NHL’s point system to change

Dec 6, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Gary Bettman

The NHL’s plan to realign teams into four conferences has been overwhelmingly positive. As with all things, however, there are some negative aspects lurking beneath the surface and for realignment, some of those worries are understandable. One big issue that comes into play is the NHL’s point system.

Without a doubt we’ll run into a situation where a fourth place team in one conference will have fewer points than a fifth or sixth place team in a separate conference leading fans of those teams to believe they got shafted.

The answer to those complaints will always be to “win more games” but in conference playoff races, a handful of points might make the difference. Just imagine what the reaction will be if say a team like Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or New York missed the playoffs because they didn’t have as many overtime/shootout losses as the team ahead of them.

A team going to the playoffs because they made it to overtime more often than another one? Insanity. There’s no doubt the shootout is a gimmick that’s here to stay, but fixing the points system would alleviate these worries. The NHL should make it so all games are worth three points. Win in regulation and a team gets three, but if the game goes to overtime or the shootout, each team gets one point and the winner gets the third.

It’s simple enough, it works in International hockey, and it’ll ensure that coaches and GMs won’t have a coronary at the end of the season because they didn’t play enough overtime games. Teams don’t want the shootout to decide games or playoff races and making regulation wins worth that much more should be incentive enough to make it happen.

  1. cdiercksen - Dec 6, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    FYI: Pierre Lebrun has been shouting this from mountains for the past few years. Might want to throw him some credit there.
    In other news, I whole-heartedly agree.

    • ThatGuy - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM

      Why would you toss Pierre credit? He didn’t invent the idea. Its been widely talked about by many and is already in place in international competition.

      • cdiercksen - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

        All I know is he’s been bringing it up regularly to GM’s for years and has written about the negative reactions he’s received. Seems like a good idea to talk to or about the loudest drummers when you start beating in time with them is all.

        But hey, I’m just a rando commenter with zero influence, so, take it with a grain of salt.

  2. beerjunkie - Dec 6, 2011 at 8:39 AM


  3. philsosexy - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    3 points for a win, 2 for overtime/shoutout win, 1 for overtime/shoutout loss

    • hansob - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      agreed, but I’d still give out the full 3 pts for an OT win. Split it up 2 and 1 for the shootout only.

  4. 8man - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Sounds logical to me. Mathematically it adds up. Make it so.

  5. cmutimmah - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    3,2,1 should be the system now. It’s STUPID that there are extra points involved.

    Or go back to the good old days where a loss was a loss…

    • comeonnowguys - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:23 AM

      I agree to a point (no pun intended) but having standings and playoff spots determined so starkly by what’s basically a 1-on-1 skills competition is rough.

      But yeah, you’re right, they should be doing 3-2-1 right now.

  6. 8man - Dec 6, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    I can understand the issue with the shootout. It does seem “unfair” to allow fate to be determined by what is basically a skills competition. However, I make these points in support of it. Each team had 65 minutes in which to secure a win, five minutes of which is 4-on-4 skaters. The system is not used in the playoffs. And above all, the NHL is a source of entertainment competing for dollars against other sources of entertainment. And I must say, I find the shootout to be very entertaining.

    Shift to the 3-2-1 point system and keep everything else the way it is.

  7. ballistictrajectory - Dec 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Rewarding a loss is basically unfair. 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for OT win, Shootout gains you 1 point. Losers go home empty handed.

    • cshearing - Dec 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      That just compounds the problems, not fixing anything. Then you would have some games awarding 3 points, some 2 points, and some even 1 point. Even worse than we are now.

      The article represents the only real way to handle this an retain the shootout. Make it so, NHL.

  8. bcisleman - Dec 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Good idea that can be made better. In addition, make the OT period 20 minutes instead of 5. There will be far fewer shootouts and the ones that do happen will be much more interesting.

  9. rarebarbarians - Dec 6, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Since we are talking about changing the Points system they should do it for scoring as well. I think you should get 2 pts. for a goal and 1 pt. for an assist, It’s obviously much harder to score therefor you should get more pts. for scoring a goal. Then we would have a true scoring champion each year.

  10. MadDog Rickles - Dec 6, 2011 at 12:57 PM


  11. greatminnesotasportsmind - Dec 6, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Screw the shootout, go back to 2 points for win, 1 for tie, 0 for loss.

  12. quizguy66 - Dec 6, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Kill the shootout. Awful gimmick.


  13. quizguy66 - Dec 6, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    So based on the total above people would rather screw the shootout than kill it? :)

  14. lpramsden - Dec 8, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    I always thought they “should” award three points for a reg. win – but when you delve into the numbers, it doesn’t change much overall. But from a theoretical POV – this change needs to happen. See here for a related discussion: NHL Realignment – Good and Bad

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (2081)
  2. P. Kessel (1523)
  3. M. Richards (1335)
  4. N. Backstrom (1234)
  5. M. Giordano (1137)