If you've been following the World Junior Championship, you're probably already pretty familiar with the 3-2-1 point system that the tournament uses. If the 3-2-1 system sounds like a foreign concept, it essentially awards three points if you win in regulation, two if you win in OT and one if you are defeated in OT.
Should the NHL adopt the 3-2-1 point system?
The 3-2-1 system was first used at the World Championships back in 2007. Immediately it was met with praise and criticism. Fans of the system noted that a team that requires extra time to win a game should not be rewarded the same amount of points as a team that only needs regulation to win. The 3-2-1 format would be a way of punishing the teams that need more time. However, critics of the system argue that a "win is a win" no matter how long it takes to get it. They also note the issue of parity, as the 3-2-1 format creates more separation between teams, for better or worse.
With all that in mind, here's why the NHL should adopt the 3-2-1 system.
It makes the most sense. That's pretty much the only argument you need for the 3-2-1 system. It rewards teams for winning in less time. The NHL's current system is severely flawed. Look no further than the 2011-12 standings to see what I'm talking about. The Florida Panthers won the Southeast Division with a record of 38-26-18. If you stop and combine the losses with the OT losses, you'll find the Panthers won 38 games while dropping 44. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals won 42 games and lost just 40, but they finished second in the division.
Clearly, as seen in the Washington/Florida debacle, the current system is flawed.
Fellow PDL writer Jeffrey Kleiman offered his opinion on why the NHL should adopt the 3-2-1, noting that:
"There isn't much of an incentive for teams tied in the 3rd to win the game in regulation because they'll gain two points regardless for a OTW. It'll change the strategy for teams in situations like that and make playoff races down the stretch much more enjoyable."
Jeffrey makes a good point. Teams would have to adopt a different strategy late in the third period in close games. I'll touch on the playoff race aspect more in a bit, but it is safe to say that the incentive of an extra point being dangled in front of teams should open up close games as the third period winds down.
Now for the other side. Here are a few reasons on why the NHL should not adopt the 3-2-1.
Honestly, it's pretty hard for me to talk about this stance as the positives and common sense outweigh the arguments against. That being said, I was able to find one pretty sound argument against the 3-2-1.
As we've seen with the current lockout, the NHL is purely focused on making money and they'll go to some pretty extreme means (like not playing) in order to ensure future profits.
The 3-2-1 system would separate the good teams from the bad. While on the surface this is how it should be, the NHL might be hesitant to endorse a system that puts the bad teams out of the race earlier in the year. Former PDL writer and friend J.P. Quayle noted on Twitter that the 3-2-1 would create greater distances between teams, and thus, cost teams revenue as they would be "out of the hunt" earlier in the year. While playoff races between certain teams would be enhances under the 3-2-1 system, they would involve fewer teams as different clubs would be mostly eliminated earlier in the schedule.
Financially, and purely financially, the 3-2-1 system wouldn't do the NHL any favors. The cream would rise to the surface but the bad – and there's plenty of bad teams in the NHL – would sink like a stone to the bottom. Attendance would probably sink right along with it as would any hope for team profits from the teams that are eliminated earlier in the year.
I suppose you could also toss in the argument that any idea that's grounded in common sense is one that the NHL would firmly reject, but that's neither here nor there.
There you have it.
It boils down to an argument between the integrity of the game and finances. Would the NHL take the risk of a potential yet realistic loss of profit to try and improve their flawed and mostly broken system? It seems highly unlikely but then again, stranger things have happened.