The plucky Nashville Predators are in a dogfight to qualify for the post-season; to do so, they’ll likely need to win two of their last three regular-season games – and pray the St. Louis Blues don’t run the table in their final three outings.
As the Preds valiantly fight to stay in the playoff mix, I keep returning to the conversation Nashville coach Barry Trotz had with a few journalists in the halls of the Air Canada Centre when his team visited Toronto in January.
Trotz spent much of our conversation talking about the NHL’s looney-tunes points system that makes it virtually impossible for teams to gain ground in the standings during the second half of the season.
(I know, I know – my editor, Edward Fraser, recently wrote about the “myth of the loser point”. But as a commenter on his piece noted, even if awarding teams a point for a loss doesn’t drastically affect this year’s standings, it would’ve dramatically affected the 2007-08 campaign.)
“At the end of the year, I’d love to see the games sorted out and the standings re-jigged to reward teams that won in regulation,” said Trotz, noting he’s brought it up with his GM, David Poile, in the past. “He just kind of looks at me and says, ‘Well, some teams will wind up with 150 points if we do things that way.’ And I say, ‘Who cares? If you’re a team like Detroit that wins a lot in regulation and you recognize and reward them for that, that just means they’re really good.’ ”
Trotz also understands traditionalists won’t favor of his idea, but added: “Well, there’s a lot of things we’ve changed. And the way things are right now, with 8-10 teams really bottled up in the standings, (re-working the points system) might be huge.”
It certainly might be. But that’s the NHL for you – a place where tradition serves as a straightjacket on logic and progress.
• A couple brief comments on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s decision last week to finally make it possible for female players to be admitted.
First of all, if the HHOF is expecting laurel after laurel for its change in policy, they won’t get any from this corner. The fact is, they’re the last of the sport’s Halls of Fame to do so and basically had to be shamed into making the move.
Secondly, for those who’ve come out since the announcement and thrown against the wall whatever argument they could – i.e., that women can’t compete on the same level as men or that the lack of competition outside North America ought to preclude them from being honored – I have a simple retort.
In its own “statement of purpose”, the HHOF makes the following point crystal clear (emphasis added by me):
“The Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1943 to establish a memorial to those who have developed Canada's great winter sport – ice hockey…(it) exists in order to honor and preserve the history of the game of ice hockey, and in particular, those who have made outstanding contributions and achievements in the development of the game.”
Got that, everybody? Being honored by the HHOF is all about contributions and achievements in the sport’s development. There’s not a word in there about playing at a certain level; nor is there a definition of how much development has to be made in any particular wing of the game.
It’s straightforward as can be. And it’s a shame it took so long to make some of the hard-heads at the HHOF realize it.
• If you haven't yet listened to The Hockey News Radio Show, which airs every Friday at 3 p.m. on XM Satellite Radio Channel 204, April 10 is the day to do so.
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Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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