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Loose Change: Three Point Play

One thing that’s always puzzled me about the NHL is who and what it chooses to imitate.

It would seem only natural for a perpetually-fringe sport like hockey to hitch its proverbial wagon to something, at least proverbially, that has wheels.

Instead of mentoring from a grand entity like the NFL, the NHL normally follows incredulously in lock-step to its own one-eared, blind guinea pig - the American Hockey League - which is kind of like taking dating tips from your baby brother.

Usually the standard procedure has the AHL being encouraged to put something - interesting or radical to the game - under its microscope and, if deemed “successful,” the change is subsequently adopted by the NHL the following season (or whenever the league is facing another of its infinite scoring crises and Chicken Little again screams loud enough).

This has brought about such significant advances as the elimination of the red line, the adoption of the shootout, goalie trapezoid and, in this case, the curious creature known as the three-point game.

The three-point game essentially gives each team a single point if the game ends with a tie in regulation and awards an extra point to the team that (a) wins in overtime, (b) wins in the shootout, (c) can spell anachronism properly.

What that ultimately amounts to is certain games divvying up three points and others having only two. Thus, if the NHL had written The Constitution, women would be able to vote, but farmers would not.

Naturally, a lot of those involved aren’t happy about this disparity, with complaints coming mainly from those teams shortchanged by losing in overtime and those who lose points to others winning in overtime; teams that are directly affected by the system and teams that are indirectly affected by the system.

Only the Union of Zamboni Drivers and three anonymous popcorn vendors in Chicago are in favor.

Which brings us back to the original precedent of following the “triumph” of the system in the minor league AHL. Perhaps, instead of referencing the massive success of the Idaho Steelheads (or whatever kind of heads play for teams that may or may not still reside in Idaho – wherever the hell that is) wouldn’t it be smarter to emulate other, more accomplished sports?

What about baseball? How do they deal with ties? Evidently ties, in Major League Baseball, go to the runner. Seems puzzling. Then again, what kind of odd rules would you expect from a game inundated with mind-altering steroids?

Basketball? Well, according to WikipediaLite, their three-point system has an arc extending 22 feet beyond each basket. When you sink a field goal from beyond that arc, your team is awarded three points. Evidently NBA games are very, very short.

Football – the one with that oblong pigskin – also has field goals, which are also worth three points for your team, so it appears we already have some sort of consensus between the two sports with the biggest balls. These solutions could work for the NHL if it agrees to install baskets and/or heightened goalposts and chooses to lose the ice and adopt grass, turf or parquet flooring as a playing surface. There is a governors’ meeting slated for April after all…

Lastly, I suppose we could take some pointers from that other football. You know, the one with that other large, earthbound ball? The one where all the players have single names like Ronaldo, Kaka and Serpico?

Their system – interestingly – is very similar to the NHL in that they have nets and score goals in much the same way hockey players do (although we differ greatly on the exposing-your-nipples-after-a-goal phenomenon).

It appears they do award three points for a game (won in regulation time no less) and they also have that shootout thing, too, except theirs is more reminiscent of firing a cannon at a bound-and-gagged squirrel than a true one-on-one battle.

The one fatal corollary to their system, however, is they allow the abomination known as a tie. After battling for six hours (or however long they play) the two teams go home with nothing more than the bitter sting of a sibling’s kiss on their lips and one measly, stinking point.

Yes, Franklin, sometimes there is no winner.

No wonder soccer has such difficulty gaining an audience.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at


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