The argument for a three-point system in the NHL

Francois Lacasse / Contributor

I know this is not an argument that many traditionalists want to hear. There’s a few arguments against it and I can understand them to a degree, but most are missing the point.

When we analyze games of the past we must understand the rules that teams play under. The last time I had this discussion with a friend they touted that the standings would not have changed to any degree if it was a 3-2-1 format. That argument was based on past contests. That in itself is a flawed assumption.

How many times have we all watched a game that each team is playing to 'get the one point'? The third period gets to the point where both teams play not to lose in order to get the point. If the league went to a 3-2-1 model you would see far less of this. Let me explain.

Let’s say a team is down in the standings and have a limited number of games to make the gap up. They are tied with the opposing team (insert your team and your teams arch-nemesis), do you not think that your team would play differently if they know that the game was worth more? Never mind how the team plays but how a coach might deploy his lines. There are many more variables in play than just looking at past games and deciding it is a moot point.

I know it would throw the point totals for historical reasons out of whack but so did the point for an overtime loss. There have been many evolutions in the game that changed the way we look back at previous achievements but we can all pretty much separate the outliers from the true records of the game.

As fans we are smart enough to know this. We can parse the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders dynasties from the others due to the number of teams in the league and the era they played in. We know that Wayne Gretzky played in an era that was higher scoring and take that into consideration. We all know that no one will ever reach Glenn Hall’s record of consecutive games played as a goaltender (502 for those that don’t know) because these records are from a bygone ear. What we should not do is dismiss the next evolution that the league needs to make because of its impact on history.

The fact that any game is awarding more points in terms of the standings is silly. If every game went into overtime using the current points system, the league would award 3.813 points in the standings. In contrast, if every game finished in regulation, the total would be 2,542. That in itself skews the numbers from years past, so there are already additional points in the system that weren't there in the past.

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