Why the NHL should change to a 3-2-1 point system

NHL logo (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NHL logo (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The NHL’s product is hurt by teams having the incentive to play for overtime instead of the win. A 3-2-1 point system is the best solution. 

The NHL has multiple problems that need to be fixed. In a weekly series at Puck Prose, we will address them and discuss the best solution. One of the biggest problems facing the league today is its current point system. Teams are motivated to play it safe while tied late in games because they are guaranteed at least a point if they lose in overtime.

How does this hurt the league? First of all, it affects the product. The end of games are supposed to be exciting. Who doesn’t love to watch a buzzer beater? Or a last-second touchdown? The NHL rarely has such moments in regulation. A huge reason why is teams get that guaranteed point if they at least make it to overtime.

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Secondly, it’s never good to reward teams for losing. Why should you get one point for losing in overtime when you get none for losing in regulation? And let’s not even talk about shootouts, which are quite possibly the worst way possible to decide a competition.

The league is discussing a few rule changes. So here’s one of my own. My proposal – a system that rewards winning and discourages teams from going to overtime. This should create a much more exciting game and make things a bit fairer.

The Proposal

Currently, the winning team (regardless of when they win) gets two points. If a team loses in overtime, they get one point. Should they lose in regulation, they get zero points. My system would give three points to a team if they win in regulation and two points if they win in overtime. One point would be awarded to teams who win in a shootout.

Now, what about the losing teams? They get nothing. Do MLB teams get anything for losing in extra innings (except for tired bullpen arms and sadness)? No. Do NBA teams get anything for losing in overtime? Nope. Why should hockey teams?

Hopefully, this rule change would motivate teams to go for the win in regulation. Going to overtime would no longer be beneficial. In fact, it would cost them a point. Same with a shootout. Remember when Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights scored just ahead of the buzzer to win a game for his team? That would become more common.

Good For The Fans

This is good for fans because the quality of hockey should increase. Our doctors might not appreciate the increased blood pressure, but it would be nothing new for hockey fans. Hockey can become a bit like soccer in the final minutes if the score is tied – everyone’s too afraid to take a chance and try to score.

As a fan of hockey, I don’t like that. I think I speak for all fans when I say I want action. This encourages it.

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Back To Reality

In reality, it’s hard to see the general managers supporting this proposal. First of all, it’s easy for teams to sell themselves as contenders in the current point system. If they can do that, the owners usually get more money.

But I’m not here to cater to the owners. I’m here to cater to the fans. The current point system hurts the game. While my 3-2-1 point system isn’t perfect, it’s much more optimal. Winning is encouraged, losing is punished.