Thoughts on the NHL Playoff Format

This season marks the first with the new divisions and as a result the playoff is a little different with wild cards.  Currently in the 30 team NHL the East has 16 teams with 14 teams in the West.  A little lopsided for the playoff seeds right?  Well the NHL has worked towards parity which I tend to disagree with.  I miss the days of the dynasty and while I don’t want to see the same four or five teams always winning the Stanley Cup, it would be cool to see some consecutive Cup wins.

So it will be interesting to see how the NHL playoff format works this year.  I personally have a recommendation for the playoff format.  It is something that the NHL used to do when it was a twenty-one team league back in the ’80’s.  At the end of the regular season, the top 16 teams would make the NHL playoffs regardless of division/conference with the seeds as follows:

#1 vs. #16

#2 vs #15

#3 vs. #14

#4 vs. #13

#5 vs. #12

#6 vs. #11

#7 vs. #10

#8 vs #9.

That way any given team might have the opportunity of playing against any other team in the playoffs.  Yes there are some cons to this method in terms of potential travel or playoff rivalries (although new rivalries could be developed).  So based on today’s standings (yes not all the teams have played the same amount of games at this point, but this is only for illustration purposes) if the playoffs started today, the match-ups would be as follows:

Anaheim vs. Carolina

Chicago vs. Phoenix

St. Louis vs. NY Rangers

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal

San Jose vs. Toronto

Colorado vs. Minnesota

Boston vs. Vancouver

Tampa Bay vs Los Angeles

Are you kidding me?  There are some great match-ups.  The Bruins and Canucks in the opening round?  Excelsior.  San Jose vs. Toronto?  The Lightning vs the Kings.  This would provide some great hockey.  It would also make the regular season seeding mean more as well.  Especially if you were one of the last couple of playoff seeds.  A few extra wins could mean drawing an “easier” opponent in the first round.

Hockey fans would love it.  Players would love it.  Probably the only ones who wouldn’t love it would be the League itself and the owners.  Unfortunately those are the two main components that would need to make this come true.  Well one could dream can they?