Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The real standings, hopefully improved

These images should at least be larger and more legible - I uploaded each conference as a separate image. Blogger lets me make each individual picture a bit bigger, with better resolution, if I do that rather than upload the whole shebang as a unit.

A table would be the gold standard, however. Hm... in a series of posts mocking the league's pity points, my method could at best be described as a shootout loss - thus deserving of a pity point itself. At least I've successfully employed the concept of irony in my blogging.

Nonetheless I will still decry; heck, at least I'm trying to improve. The NHL seems more than happy about their system, and I think I see why. Say you're Commissioner Garrison Keillor Gary Bettman.  You have to interest a non-market such as Phoenix to accept a transplanted team like the Winnipeg Jets, who finished the 1993-94 season a dreadful 24-51-9.  Or, let's say you're trying to expand into new markets... but your expansion Tampa Bay Lightning were less than an exemplary example - that's 17-55-10 in '97-98 and 19-54-9 in '98-99.  Yeah, who wants in?

So, the very next year, Bettman introduces an overtime loss column.  Instead of Tampa duplicating its 19-54-9 record, it gets to say it was 19-47-9-7.  Voila!  And the brand-new Atlanta Thrashers avoid 60 losses by moving four of them to this OTL column.  Huzzah!  So what if these points wind up costing the Carolina Hurricanes (37-35-10) a playoff spot in favor of the inferior Buffalo Sabres (35-36-11, but four of the losses were in OT)?  And by 2001-02, there were no 50-loss teams in the league; or, scratch that, there were three, but only if you actually count the OTL as an L.  And the year after that, 27 of the 30 teams could say, hey, we got points in more than half our games!  Somehow only three NHL teams managed to lose 40 or more games.

The extra column drove purists crazy, but it kept the owners happy.  Nobody wants to say they were well-below .500, so the extra points were a godsend.  Then, after they blew up the 2004-2005 season, they came back with the shootout - because if points for losing was good, then points for winning after the game was over was doubleplusgood!

As a result you have the table below, where 24 out of 30 teams are .500 or better.  Everybody's above-average!

Well... not Carolina. Even their pity-point record is 5-17-5; it's almost impossible to be that bad under any circumstance. That translates into a full-year record of 15-51-15 with one game to play; even under the old rules, it's a record of futility that few teams have matched.  But under the old rules, the 'Canes would be 2-19-6.  There's just no way to sugar-coat that.  It's epically bad, a SIX WIN pace.  Even if they could scrape the seventh win in the last game, that's a full-year of 7-57-18, and only the ties would keep them from being possibly the worst team in the history of the league.  Their seven wins would break the old 1975 Washington Capitals record for the fewest in the expansion era.

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