Report: Growing appetite among general managers to change NHL's point system

Jan 21, 7:01 PM

That the National Hockey League's point system, as it currently stands, has some significant issues isn't exactly news to hockey fans. 

The so called "Bettman point" - a single point awarded to a team that is tied after sixty minutes but loses in overtime, or in the shootout - is particularly problematic. Arguably the "loser point" creates some odd incentives late in games (resulting in more conservative play) and also results in a "value imbalance" in terms of the value of each contest (some games are worth two total points, while others that end after regulation are worth three).

The result: a lot of safe, risk-averse, boring play late in games; and an undue weight given to shootout victories. 

But change could be in the air at the next NHL general manager's meeting, due to be held in March. According to a report from ESPN's Craig Custance (insider) there's a growing sense of dissatisfaction among NHL general managers with the NHL's point system, and the importance of the shootout in particular.

Per Custance:

"While there are no guarantees (the NHL's point system) is broached at the next GM meeting there’s reason to believe that if it is, there might be more support this time around than there was in 2007 when it was steamrolled out of the room. 

For one, there’s growing discontent over how many games are decided in the shootout. That unhappiness has manifested itself in efforts to change overtime, either simply by extending the 4-on-4 session or even introducing 3-on-3 if that doesn’t work. Anything to lessen the impact and frequency of the shootout, something that is essentially viewed as a coin toss that has too large an impact on the standings."

Custance quotes several anonymous league executives who both favor and opposed changes to the NHL's point system, including two general managers in Steve Yzerman (for change) and Doug Armstrong (against) who have been outspoken on the issue.

One proposal, which Custance touches on, suggests that the NHL should adopt a "European system" for their standings. Under the European system, NHL teams would be awarded three points for a regulation victory, two points for a victory in overtime or in the shootout, and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. 

So how would that impact the NHL Standings? Check it out for yourself:

Atlantic Division:

StandingsActual PointsEuropean System
Bruins6591
Tampa Bay6384
Montreal 5982
Toronto5772
Detroit5269
Ottawa5167
Florida4558
Buffalo3330

Metropolitan Division:

StandingsActual PointsEuropean System
Pittsburgh7598
NY Rangers5780
Philadelphia5675
Columbus 5271
Washington 5264
New Jersey5065
Carolina4965
NY Islanders4759

Central Division:

StandingsActual PointsEuropean System
Chicago75102
St. Louis7198
Colorado6790
Minnesota5980
Nashville5171
Dallas5067
Winnipeg4955

Pacific Division:

StandingsActual PointsEuropean System
Anaheim79109
San Jose7092
Los Angeles6484
Vancouver5977
Phoenix4971
Calgary3948
Edmonton3646
Jan 24, 5:06 PM

Craig Anderson believes NHL might be better off if shootout was replaced with coin flip

Jan 24, 5:06 PM

On Thursday night the Ottawa Senators fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout, dropping their shootout record to 2-6 on the season.

After the shootout loss, Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was asked about the utility of the skill competition and was critical of the artificial tiebreaker. "It’s a skills competition," Anderson said matter of factly. "Flip a coin and call heads. That might be a better way to settle it.”

Anderson's Senators are currently five points behind their divisional and provincial rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for a playoff spot. If the Senators had won their coin flips this season at the same rate as the Leafs have (9-3 in the shootout, for a 69.2 winning percentage), they'd be only one point behind the more storied Ontarian NHL franchise in the standings...

Anderson is just the latest member of the hockey community to lend his voice to the growing chorus of people criticizing the value and very existence of the shootout in recent weeks. "It should be out of the league," opined Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella earlier this month. "That gimmick should be out of the league."