The Canadian Hockey League has taken a strong step forward in updating its long-overdue tie-breaking procedure, and the National Hockey League should take notice.
For years, the NHL has operated under a two (2) point per win point system. That also featured zero (0) points per loss. Back when games could end as a draw (prior to the new collective bargaining agreement in 2005), one (1) point was handed out to each team, keeping all games worth two (2) points.
But once the new CBA was initiated with the option for five-minute, sudden-death, four-on-four overtime, followed by a shootout – if necessary – some games were worth two points, while other games converted to become three points.
It wasn’t fair, and still isn’t. However, teams, players, owners and league officials deemed this the ‘correct’ way to assign points each game. The way standings were tabulated also changed. Regulation or overtime victories were worth more than a game that remained deadlocked through five minutes of four-on-four overtime and was determined in the shootout.
With a lack of scoring across the league and the push for less games going the route of the shootout, or as many have come to refer to it as, the ‘skills competition’, the league initiated a three-on-three, sudden-death overtime period in advance of the 2015-16 season. This did bring down the number of games requiring the shootout, drastically. But it didn’t solve the issue of standings placement and that of three-point games.
On Monday morning, the CHL announced that it would be shifting its tie-breaking procedures in advance of the 2022 Memorial Cup. The new point system will used solely for the six-game round robin tournament prior to the semifinal and final matchups.
The new point system will see each game be worth three (3) points, with a full three (3) going to a regulation winner, two (2) being given to the team winning in overtime and one (1) point for a team losing in overtime. Teams losing in regulation will not be compensated. There will be no shootout and overtime will be played as continuous three-on-three over a span of as many 20-minutes periods as required.
The CHL also announced that intermissions between the third period and each overtime period would be 15 minutes, with no television timeouts occurring in any of the extra frames. However, at the first stoppage in play after the 10-minute mark in overtime, a dry scrape will occur.
These rules will most definitely get a thorough look over from the NHL brass as statistical differences have been so slim over the past number of years when it comes to end-of-season standings, that a three-point system should be implemented immediately. The other obvious change would be that of a 1-8 playoff ranking system, but that is a topic for another day.
With the Memorial Cup beginning on Monday night in St. John’s, New Brunswick, the NHL will be kept on high alert. The host Seadogs will play against the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs in the first game of the round robin, before the WHL champ Edmonton Oil Kings faces the QMJHL victor Shawinigan Cataractes on Tuesday.