As it stood Thursday afternoon, only eight WHL teams lived below the .500 mark.
On the surface, there is nothing problematic or suspicious about that, but in a deeper dive, it becomes particularly curious.
Five teams have records above .500 in the middle of the standings, yet actually, have more losses than wins. That is because of the glorious loser point.
As you most likely know, teams are afforded a point if a game extends beyond regulation play. That silly tradition has created this even more ridiculous anomaly.
The Brandon Wheat Kings lead the way among the losers, with what looks like a tidy win-loss record of 9-4-3-3. In reality, they have six combined overtime and shootout losses. Their actual record is nine wins and 10 losses. The loser point has them in a battle for second in the east division.
In the Central, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are 8-6-2-2, also above .500 when really, they have lost 10 games this season. Count Prince George, Moose Jaw, and Spokane as the other groups above .500, with more losses than wins. This season, 45 loser points have been awarded across the league.
Only five Eastern Conference teams have records above .500 and four in the west. The Red Deer Rebels are one of those teams, with a 13-5-1-0 record. Only one non-regulation loss.
Overtime losses and shootout losses are nice to sort out this way, but it really shouldn’t be necessary, to begin with.
This could all be easily sorted out if the league would just go to the three-two-one system. Three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime or shootout win.
But the record books, hockey purists across the country cry!
Obviously, the NHL will need to take the first step in this direction, and the leagues below will follow. For clarity and understanding, this is an easy fix to a long-standing and annoying problem.
On the ice, the annoyance comes from teams playing to simply extend the game beyond regulation, trying to earn that point in tight standings. You see it way too often in the last five minutes of games, and for good reason.
Making the playoffs can often come down to a single point here or there and it’s critical to pick them up when you can. What this often creates is a third-period stalemate.
Teams and players unwilling to push the pace or play on the edge for fear of making a mistake that will break the tie.
Instead of the CHL waiting for the big clubs to come back to reality, why not jump the gun and make a big change?
It’s an unfortunate quagmire hockey people created after the 2004-05 lockout in an attempt to mitigate ties and it’s time once again, to evolve.