The Oilers are going to miss the playoffs this year. But there’s a silver lining: The league’s general managers are considering adding more teams to the playoff structure. You might not have faith in Pistol Pete’s ability to pull this team up from the gutter, but if the league actually does go through and expand the playoffs, it could be so idiot-proof even he couldn’t screw it up.
Yesterday, over at The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun reported that with the league expanding to 32 teams (Seattle) pretty soon, general managers are discussing also changing the playoff format.
“More playoff teams [equals] more fan bases with the pleasure of experiencing the playoffs [which equals] more revenue for owners/players to share [which equals] more meaningful games for national rights holders [which equals] more GM/head coaches who can say they made the playoffs and hopefully keep their jobs [less turnover],” explained one NHL executive to LeBrun.
Not so fast! LeBrun sent Gary Bettman an email about expanding the playoffs and the league’s commissioner shut it down.
“Not something we’re (or will be) considering,” Bettman said.
Well, too bad, Gary, We’re going to talk about it anyway.
The two main points of conversation here are the amount of teams in the playoffs and the playoff format itself. That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How would you change the NHL’s playoff format? More teams? Fewer teams? Kill the divisions? Make it so all the Canadian teams automatically make it? Have a March Madness style 32-team one-game-elimination format?
The amount of teams…
As primarily a baseball person, I think it’s hilarious anybody is actually considering the possibility of adding more teams to the NHL’s playoffs. More than half of the teams make the playoffs in this league already and they’re considering watering it down even further? That’s absurd to me. Having all of these teams in the playoffs makes the season largely meaningless. Adding more would make it even worse.
I obviously understand the idea of having more meaningful playoff games and what that can do for growing the sport and the league, but this seems like a bit of a contradiction. What you’re ultimately doing by adding more teams to the playoffs, whether it be adding wild card three-game play-in series like suggested or just expanding the bracket, is making the season less meaningful.
I would honestly prefer fewer teams in the playoffs because, again, it would make the season mean more.
The GMs want to go back to the one-vs-eight style format. I can see why. Take a look at the Eastern Conference right now. The best three teams are in the Atlantic Division and No. 2 and No. 3 in the East are more than likely going to play each other in the first round while a weaker team like Washington or Philadelphia is going to make it through to the second round.
That said, this format ultimately guarantees some awesome first-round matchups like Toronto vs Boston, which is a good thing. Teams like these facing each other in the first couple rounds because of the divisional format is doing its job in creating rivalries. Just look at us and Anaheim. It just isn’t the same with the one-vs-eight format because of the random matchups that come with it.
I think the NFL has it right in which eight division winners make the playoffs and then four wild card teams fill up the bracket. There’s meaningful competition for division banners, meaningful competition after that for seeding and first-round byes, and meaningful competition for accessible wild card spots. Seldom do horrible teams make the NFL playoffs. It kind of works two-fold in making the season meaningful and creating rivalries.
What say you, Nation? How should the league format the NHL’s playoffs? More teams? Fewer teams? Same format? Old format? Brand new format?
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