Welcome to the bandwagon, Shane Doan.
This week, the Coyotes’ captain made some headlines by suggesting a radical solution to the NHL’s late-season problem of teams tanking and fans rooting for losses.
Many fans will recognize Doan’s suggestion as The Gold Plan that’s been floating around for years. Many more are seeing it for the first time.
The idea goes like this: Instead of a draft lottery system that encourages losing by awarding the best odds to the league’s worst teams, you’d determine the draft order based on the number of points each team earned after being eliminated from the playoffs. Once you’re mathematically out of the playoff hunt, you start the clock on banking points towards your spot in the draft order. The team with the most post-elimination points get the top pick, and so on down through the rest of the non-playoff teams.
The beauty of the plan is that it still weights the odds of getting the first pick heavily towards the league's worst teams, because they'll be eliminated first. In a typical season, the league's worst teams will get about ten games or so to rack up their points, while teams that come close to the playoffs will only get a couple (and sometimes none at all). We're still offering a hand up to the teams that need it most. It's just that now, they have to earn that prize on the ice. And their fans would be able to feel good about wins again.
Doan didn't invent the concept – the idea became widely known back in 20012 when a then-student named Adam Gold presented it at the Sloan Analytics conference, which is why it's typically referred to as the Gold Plan and not the Doan Plan.
Others have made similar proposals over the years, and the basic idea has been gaining converts ever since. Who invented what isn't all that important, since nobody's stealing anything here. Sometimes, multiple people just happen to come up with a similar idea, especially when it's a very good one. Which the Gold Plan is.
Sadly, not everyone agrees. Whenever the idea is mentioned, there's an inevitable pushback, as hockey fans do that hockey fan thing where they try to come up with as many reasons as possible to resist change. And some of those reasons are legitimate. After all, the Gold Plan is clever, but it's certainly not perfect.
So today, let's walk through some of the most common objections to the idea – and why you should jump on the bandwagon with Shane Doan and the rest of us anyway.