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Skating on Thin Ice: Rule Changes and Team Strategies in the NHL

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Author Info

  • Anurag N. Banerjee
  • Johan F.M. Swinnen
  • Alfons Weersink

Abstract

In an eort to stimulate a more exciting and entertaining style of play, the National Hockey Association (NHL) changed the rewards associated with the results of overtime games. Under the new rules, teams tied at the end of regulation both receive a single point regardless of the outcome in overtime. A team scoring in the sudden-death 5-minute overtime period would earn an additional point. Prior to the rule change in the 1999-2000 season, the team losing in overtime would receive no points while the winning team earned 2 points. This paper presents a theoretical model to explain the eect of the rule change on the strategy of play during both the overtime period and the regulation time game. The results suggest that under the new overtime format equally powerful teams will play more offensively in overtime resulting in more games decided by a sudden-death goal. The results also suggest that while increasing the likelihood of attacking in overtime, the rule change would have a perverse eect on the style of play during regulation by causing them to play conservatively for the tie. Empirical data con?rm the theoretical results. The paper also shows that increasing the rewards to a win in regulation time would prevent teams from playing defensively during regular time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven in its series LICOS Discussion Papers with number 17506.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:17506

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Keywords: Ice Hockey; Game Theory; NHL Overtime Rule;

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  1. Palomino, F.A. & Rigotti, L. & Rustichini, A., 1998. "Skill, Strategy and Passion: An Empirical Analysis of Soccer," Discussion Paper 1998-129, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Michael T. Maloney & Robert E. McCormick, 2000. "The Response of Workers to Wages in Tournaments: Evidence from Foot Races," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(2), pages 99-123, May.
  3. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Egon Franck & Philipp Theiler, 2008. "One for sure or three maybe - Empirical evidence for overtime play from Swiss ice hockey," Working Papers 0024, University of Zurich, Center for Research in Sports Administration (CRSA), revised 2010.
  2. Stephen Dobson & John Goddard, 2008. "Strategic Behaviour and Risk Taking in Football," Working Papers 0805, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
  3. Niven Winchester & Raymond T. Stefani, 2009. "An innovative approach to National Football League standings using optimal bonus points," Working Papers 0905, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2009.

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