August 27, 2011
The NHL "charity point" for teams that lose in overtime has always been a divisive little bugger. Some feel rewarding the defeated cheapens a victory and undermines regulation play. Some see it as an extension of the old system of ties, with both teams deserving of a point after 60 minutes of evenly played hockey.
Some feel removing the charity point would create a standings system that would reward the best teams in the league, rather than create artificially enhanced parity. Others have measured the charity point's impact on the standings as minimal.
Dave Perkins of the Toronto Star? Not a charity point fan. In fact, not a fan of points in the standings at all — he wants the NHL to go to wins and losses as the only way to determine playoff seeding.
By the end of 82 games, the better teams will, as always, have asserted themselves and the record will show it. Forty-one wins would properly identify a .500 team. As it stands, some coaches and fans pretend an 82-point team is a .500 team, even though actual break-even hockey (gaining half of available points) usually requires about 92 points.
Ties were part of the scenery when this fan was growing up. They were considered an honourable result and still should be, in this opinion. (Does anyone think a shootout decision, exciting as some may be, is a more honourable result?) But that horse has long since left the barn; the NHL chose a generation ago to eliminate ties. Fine, but in that case, why not go all the way?
The-more-the-merrier argument is probably the best argument for the charity point.
There's no question the loser point can keep things somewhat interesting for a borderline team in the standings, deep into the season. The Calgary Flames were third in the West in overtime losses with 12, and finished three points out of the playoffs; the Dallas Stars had 11 OTLs and were alive on the last day of the season.
As far as a straight wins and losses format goes, as long as there's overtime we want a system that puts more importance in the first 60 minutes of the game than a 5-minute overtime and a shootout.
Awarding three points to a team that wins in regulation puts the onus on excelling at 5-on-5 hockey. Maybe you go 3-2-1 in points, with no charity point. Maybe you keep the charity point intact. Whatever the case, three points for a regulation win is something we support.
But what are your thoughts on a win/loss format?