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Skating on thin ice: rule changes and team strategies in the NHL

Author

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

Abstract

In an effort 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 effect 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 effect on the style of play during regulation by causing them to play conservatively for the tie. Empirical data confirm 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Anurag N. Banerjee & Johan F. M. Swinnen & Alfons Weersink, 2007. "Skating on thin ice: rule changes and team strategies in the NHL," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 493-514, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:40:y:2007:i:2:p:493-514
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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. Franck Egon & Theiler Philipp, 2012. "One for Sure or Maybe Three: Empirical Evidence for Overtime Play from a Comparison of Swiss Ice Hockey and the NHL," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(3), pages 210-223, June.
    3. Stephen Dobson & John Goddard, 2008. "Strategic Behaviour and Risk Taking in Football," Working Papers 0805, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
    4. Dobson, Stephen & Goddard, John, 2010. "Optimizing strategic behaviour in a dynamic setting in professional team sports," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 205(3), pages 661-669, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Liam J.A. Lenten & Jan Libich & Petr Stehlík, 2013. "Policy Timing and Footballers' Incentives," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 14(6), pages 629-655, December.
    7. Kenneth Linna & Evan Moore & Rodney Paul & Andrew Weinbach, 2014. "The Effects of the Clock and Kickoff Rule Changes on Actual and Market-Based Expected Scoring in NCAA Football," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(2), pages 1-14, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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