It’s been awhile since I have made comments about the state of the NHL. It has recently occurred to me that the NHL needs to take a hard look in the off season about the way the playoffs are formatted. I am currently looking at the standings and realizing that in the Eastern Conference that the winner of the Southeast Division has the distinct possibility of actually finishing 9th or lower in points. What do they get for this honor? A three seed and home ice advantage. That is something I feel will make this league fall even more into criticism. God forbid that Atlanta or Carolina win the division with 80 points and are in 9th place, get the 3 seed and go onto win the CUP. What a laugh the already skeptical US media would have at that. The teams that end up suffering here are in the Northeast and Atlantic divisions, team like Philly, Buffalo or Boston might get knocked out because the right of a division leader. I think that Bettman, Daly really should to sit down with the owners and hatch things out.
I have a solution…… get rid of the divisions go to a 2 Conference system. East and West, the top 8 teams in each conference should then qualify for the playoffs. This way the fans are assured that the best 8 teams in each Conference are represented. Also by doing this it could lead to a more balance schedule where fans will be able to see every team in the NHL in their hometown every other year.
The opponents of such a proposal will say that this ill destroy divisional rivalries. I disagree instead of destroying the rivalries it will fuel more, whether it is the Flyers having a renewed rival with the Caps or the Pens and Habs.. I strongly feel this will also enhance the Playoffs with teams taking their seasonal rivalries into the Second Season. We would have teams battling in the Conference games just as hard as they do in Divisional games. Every conference game will become important. Imagine how much more interesting things will become in the off season with teams trying to manipulate for players in their own conference. It would turn the game upside down. Most importantly though is that the 8 that make the playoffs in each Conference are the teams that most deserve it.