As a Red Wings fan, I've become acquainted with the phenomenon of fans cheering for losses. I go to a fan forum, wanting to be happy about beating the pants off the Pens, and encounter a bunch of people who are mad that we won. I understand their reasoning given the draft rules, but I think it's a counter-intuitive and frankly very annoying way to "cheer". I think the league should do something, not necessarily to discourage "tanking", but to give fans incentive to cheer for a win every individual game.
At the same time, bad teams need to receive assistance in the form of better draft picks. These two goals are generally at odds and hard to reconcile. I want us to try to brainstorm possible ways to fix the one problem without creating another. It's hard, but let's be creative. Some things will seem gimmicky, but I think that's okay as long as it accomplishes the two goals.
Idea: Draft positions are determined by the standings after game #60. This is enough time to see which teams are bad enough to need draft picks, but there is enough time remaining that most teams can still have a hope of making the playoffs. After game #60, each win gives you a lottery ball. At the draft, lottery balls are used to potentially move you up or down one spot.
- Reason to cheer for a win before game #60: Hope of making the playoffs. Reason to cheer for a win after game #60: Possible better draft pick.
- Not perfect, because in some cases people will cheer for a loss before game #60 if they already know their team is bad enough early on. However I think having that issue earlier in the season is an improvement on the current situation.
Possible modification: Before the season, the league picks a random number between 41 and 60. This number determines the cutoff game, and is not made known until the draft.
- Now there is no way of knowing when the draft positions are set, so on game 50 for example, fans don't know if they should tank it for a better pick, or win it for a better chance at moving up.
Other possibilities: The game number (or randomized range) can be tweaked to get the best results. Maybe the lottery can move you up or down 2 spots instead of 1. Maybe instead of "lottery" it is a simple function: If you have more wins than the team above you, you move up in the draft (with a limit of 1 or 2 spots).
Summary: This is just a starting point for brainstorming, I know my ideas are not perfect but I think they're a step in the right direction. Try to come up with some creative modifications or other ideas. Remember the two goals:
1: Fans should ideally cheer for a win for each and every individual game.
2: Team that had a poor season should, in general, be helped with better draft picks.