I’ve crusaded against the OT point ever since the NHL got rid of ties. Why a losing team should get anything is beyond me. So, I’ve got a plan to remedy this situation: either go back to ties, or stop giving out the loser point.
Believe it or not, the OT point served a purpose at one time. Back when you could tie, teams were perfectly content to do just that: tie. The game would get to overtime, and we’d see a boring dump and chase game and only a rare OT winner.
When the OT point came along, teams had “nothing to lose.” They could go for the win and still keep the point for the tie. While this made for an exciting OT, the last ten minutes of a tie game were essentially the same as OT was prior to the introduction of the point: two teams playing boring hockey to secure a point. So, the OT point just delayed the excitement in a tie game until OT, and the losing team still got a point. But, everyone was so excited to actually see multiple scoring opportunities in one OT that they accepted it. Besides, you could still tie.
Now, you can’t tie in the NHL. Someone is going to win no matter what. Teams no longer need an incentive to go for the win since they’re either going to win or lose, so the previous purpose of the point is no longer valid. So why do we continue to do it?
One solution: Ties
I would have no problem going to back to ties. In many ways, a tie in a hostile environment (the old Chicago Stadium comes to mind) is/was a moral victory. But, ties do cause teams to play “safe” hockey and play “not to lose.” I would not have a problem with this tried and true method. At least all games would be worth the same amount of points.
Another solution: The shootout
I actually prefer the shootout for reasons, I’ll state below, but love it or hate it, the shootout is here to stay. Some believe you should get a point because the shootout is a not an acceptable way to end a team game, trotting out the tired argument that it’s like baseball games ending with a home run derby. (Since baseball games seem to be a vehicle for Viagra ads these days, I would suggest that a home run derby is exactly what baseball needs.) If that’s the case, why don’t we give out the loser point for losing in a shootout? Or just tie in regulation, give both teams a point and go to the shootout? (Both of which would cause the “play not to lose” problem since teams would play for the point.)
I believe the shootout is actually nothing new…it should have been done years ago. Think about every street hockey game you played as a kid. How did you end a tie game? Why? Because unless you wanted to play forever, it seemed like the next best way to declare a winner.
Same thing with the NHL. Ideally, we play sudden death until someone scores, but that is an impractical solution during the regular season. Similar to both street hockey teams needing to go inside because it was dark, the professional guys need to get on a plane and play tomorrow night.
That leaves us with two solutions: ties or three bar/a shootout. We’ve already discussed the psychological effect ties have on players who play not to lose. Again, I’d rather have this than giving a point for losing in 65 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes.
Without ties, the shootout is a necessary evil, even if you don’t like that it vitiates the “team element” of a game. (Besides, for some teams, having the opposition skate in unimpeded on their goalie isn’t any different from regulation play anyway.) At the end of the day, you need good goaltending and offense to win…doesn’t sound that different from a real game, does it?
And be honest, how many of you played a shootout on the Sega Genesis video games and wonder why in the world the NHL didn't do this after a tie game?
One thing is certain in my mind: the OT point needs to go. You have no idea how frustrating was as a Blues fan winning a big game, and only gaining one point on two teams ahead of us because the Ducks, Oilers, Wild, Predators, Blue Jackets and Red Wings all played each other to an OT period. How 23 out of 30 teams can be above .500 is astounding to me.
You either tie hockey games, or stop whining about the shootout deciding hockey games and let the loser go home with nothing. That’s why they call them “tough losses”…you shouldn’t get any points.