Why the NHL should expand the Stanley Cup playoffs

The final weeks of the 2021-22 NHL NHL season were full of drama.

Since Halloween 2021, the Eastern Conference playoff field has been established. The eight playoff teams won't be jockeying for positions as much as they let the chips fall where they might and hope to avoid any injuries before the season's real start.

There is a playoff race in the Western Conference between the Vegas Golden KnightsAnd schadenfreude, with Vancouver CanucksWe are trying to make a last-minute surge. Otherwise, the West is set. It has been since a long time.

This is where the inventor of Shark Tank says “It doesn’t need to be this way!”

NHL has now added Vegas and Seattle to its roster of 32 teams in five years. Half of these teams do not qualify to play in the playoffs. This is absurd and detrimental to the growth of the game.

This is how the NHL playoffs should look in the future:

  • 20 teams, 10 per conference

  • Play-in rounds featuring the No. 7-10 seeds. Use the NBA's fair and efficient format

  • The Stanley Cup playoffs are the undisputed perfect 16-team war of attrition after the play-in round.

  • OK, almost perfect. Reorganize four teams by regular season record. Forego geographic designations to avoid potential rivalry matches for the Cup.

  • Be happy

  • Print money

  • Let's get started

While the three major leagues of sports are expanding their postseason field with additional teams and play-in games the NHL has expanded the number teams whose seasons end after the Game No. 82. It is putting money at risk. It mutes late-season drama. It refuses to push more stars and teams into the spotlight of the Stanley Cup playoffs when the NHL is at its highest for public attention.

Because the NHL is known for marketing the Stanley Cup playoffs. Take this example:

That commercial was amazing!

We should invite more teams to the postseason party.

The NFL did it. expanded its playoff field to 14 teams in 2020. The NBA also did so, and it established its NBA play in tournament for its 7th-10th seed starting in 2020-21 season. It immediately saw success with a match between the Golden State Warriors (Los Angeles Lakers) and them. Major League Baseball also did: While the owners wanted to increase their 10-team playoff field to 14, they instead increased it to a 12-team league.

Does the NHL swim against the current in terms of playoff expansion?

Bill Daly, deputy commissioner, told me via email that he doesn't believe we are. “With the possible exception of the NBA I would say that MLB and NFL are swimming in front of us. Just saying.

Daly's key point is that the NHL has allowed more of their teams to qualify to the postseason than either baseball or football since expanding its field in 1979-80 to 16 teams. This was after four World Hockey Association franchises were absorbed. The NHL added the following: San Jose SharksIn 1991-1992, 16 teams out of 21 would be eligible for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Did the regular season get devalued? Perhaps. This is a lot of playoff team. Despite the fact that there was only one seller at the trade deadline each season, I don’t recall any complaints about 76% qualifying for the playoffs. That's how it was.

When I discuss the NHL playoff expansion with people, the most common counterargument is “That's just the way it is”.

The New York IslandersAnd Columbus Blue JacketsThe expanded format would see the East, Vegas Golden Knights, and Vancouver Canucks all become postseason teams. Although it's difficult to argue that a Blue Jackets team of.500 is worthy of this honor, having a 16-team playoff bracket is “just the way it is.”

The Blue Jackets are not part of the accepted structural norms. And when these norms change to make the playoffs more competitive, guess what? They are a playoff team and nobody will care. Two seasons into the NBA's playoff tournament and the fans aren’t protesting Adam Silver’s office, because the San Antonio Spurs (.415 win percentage) were in a qualifying round game.

These fans are more like “Cool, more playoff Basketball.”

Another common argument against expanding the NHL playoffs is:

“Expanding playoff field means less drama, but not more.” This may have some merit depending on the season. If they are guaranteed at least one spot in the play-in series, we're less engaged with their playoff fight. However, we would have been more engaged with. Jack EichelThe team that was once the ‘old' Buffalo SabresThis second-half surge by, could have been for a playoff place rather than for good vibes this summer.

“Boiling down a whole regular season into one game doesn't seem fair.” There has always been a strange collision between personal responsibility, fairness and professional sports. Like when players on losing teams start punching opponents in the faceTheir team was “smiling” during a blowout, which is clearly an offense to humanity. Boo-hoo. You don't have to embarrass yourself if you don’t want to.

Same applies to the end-of-game nature of a play in game. You may feel it unfair to the Nos. 7 and 8 seed seeds must still play elimination games against “unworthy”, teams to earn their right to participate in the 16-team tournament.


These elimination play-in games are simply amazing. It's like going straight to the Game 7. One media executive said to me that they would make a great TV show.

One NHL executive stated that play-in games are the best way to draw interest in the playoffs.

However, I can understand teams' anxiety about losing their entire season due to a single defeat in a sport that is highly competitive. A bad bounce off a frozen rubber thing on ice can make the difference between winning and losing. The NHL should, like the NBA, follow the same path as the NBA in jersey advertising and postgame fashion checks.

The NBA uses what is commonly known as the Page-McIntyre systemIt is well-known for its play in games. It's a double elimination format that has been adopted by all sports, from cricket to rugby to League of Legends tournaments.

The NBA wanted to protect its No. 7 and 8 seeds were given two chances to play in the 16-team playoff tournament. The No. The No. 7 and 8 seeds will face off, with the winner being the No. 7 seed. The winner of the No. 9 seed vs.10 seeds game. 8 seed is at stake.

Each season is different, so there's no guarantee that every play-in tournament will be a success like the Lakers vs. Warriors. The playoffs could have been started this week, and the NHL would have used the NBA's format. Pittsburgh PenguinsAnd Washington Capitalswould play in No. 7 vs. No. 8 game, and then the NHL would get either Sidney CrosbyOr Alex OvechkinPlay against either the Blue Jackets, or the Islanders in advance-or-die games

The break in between the end-of-the regular season and the start to the 16-team tournament of higher seeds is worrying. It is easy to become rust after a few days' rest. The NBA's last regular-season game was April 10. April 10 was the last regular-season game. The play in games had been completed by April 15. April 16 was the start of the regular postseason tournament. There is probably another day. If you'd like to give top seeded players an extra advantage, the No. The No. 8 seed will play the No. 1 seed will play the No. 8 seed the night following their qualifier.

The format of 20 teams playing in a NBA-style tournament is an exception to the rule. The entire concept of NHL playoff expansion is also included.

Why isn't it happening?

In the past several years, I have spoken with Board of Governors members who want it. I also admit that I have spoken to some who don't. The Athletic conducted a survey in 2018 and found that 80% of respondents wanted it. the vast majority of general managers favored playoff expansion a.k.a. They are looking for something that will keep them employed for another season. There is a lot of interest in the expansion of the playoffs. However, there isn’t any real momentum, even though the league has grown to 32 teams recently.

Daly was adamant that there had been no discussion about expanding the playoff field following the NHL's last meeting. COVID-impacted, 24-team “bubble” postseasonThe league's first qualification round games were held in.

His brief reply was “No.”

I asked sources at the NHLPA if there was any discussion of playoff expansion during the NHLPA's last round collective bargaining.

They believed it hadn't.

All of this is due to one reason or, rather, one person: Gary Bettman.

The most neglected part of the country Bettman's nearly 30 years with the NHLHis love of tradition is evident. Bettman's NHL was a place where fighting wasn't banned. The Original Six were placed on a pedestal, and the Stanley Cup playoff field didn't expand except for one pandemic season.

Why isn't this a topic that comes up in board meetings? You stop asking questions after hearing “no” a dozen times. Why was it not part of the CBA negotiations? Because the players knew how much concession they would need to make in order for Bettman to be freed from something he refuses.

One executive stated that Gary is not going to compromise on playoff expansion.

I wish he would. Comparing the logic arguments in favor and against the expansion of the Stanley Cup playoffs is like comparing Kilimanjaro with an anthill. We won't be able to debate Gary Bettman. Let's think differently.

Money. Sweet, sweet, hockey-related revenue.

It can be quite compelling. Bettman was not in favor of suspending the NHL's regular season to allow for the Olympics. However, he did lobby the IOC at one time to move hockey to the Summer Olympics. The NHL made future participation a bargaining chip for the players in CBA negotiations after it became clear that there was no financial benefit to participating in the South Korea Games.

The World Cup of Hockey is a revenue-generating event that directly supports the NHL. Therefore, it's fine to suspend the regular season in February 2024 in order to allow for the tournament.

Bettman was able to use the windfall to do something that he didn’t want to. The same thing could happen with the expansion of the playoffs.

The NBA has built a strong case for its concept over two seasons. Average viewers of NBA play-in games was 2.4 million for the first two days. It brought in huge amounts of money at gate and additional advertising revenue, including a title sponsor. Broadcasting and Cable reported that the NBA play-in tournament attracted $60.4 million in ad revenue last year.

These numbers are known to the NHL. It is aware of the potential for an expanded playoff. It will just take the man in control to decide if the revenue, exposure, and spreading playoff excitement to “unworthy teams” is worth it to bend on tradition to qualify for a round.

It's okay to bend but not to break. The 16-team tournament will remain intact; the path to hockey’s Holy Grail would be even more difficult. 38% NHL would still not qualify for the postseason but would be more active in playoff races for longer periods of regular season.

Stanley Cup playoffs represent the best thing about professional sports. They are even more amazing when they are expanded.

Why the NHL should expand the Stanley Cup playoffs

Jersey Foul of Week

From The Pond

Look, Los Angeles KingsMarcel Dionne, Hall of Famer and California hockey icon is Marcel Dionne. By the time Anaheim was granted an NHL expansion franchise, he was already out of the league. It is an act of Jersey Foul that an Anaheim sweater can bear the number and name of an L.A. Star star. Worst, it is Sonny Milano (No. (No. 12 for the current Ducks). Erasure!

Video of Week

If Shea TheodoreHe didn't score the overtime game-winning goal in favor of the Washington CapitalsWednesday night at 8:00 PM: Vegas Golden KnightsYou are ready to eat. Turn off the lights and pack the tents. They still have a 25% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight. But that's still an opportunity.

Imagine what the shot would look like if they didn't make it. Andrew HammondLook like Dominik HasekMonday night against New Jersey Devils

It's still a tension convention in the Golden Knights. Pete DeBoer's handling on Robin LehnerAgainst the Capitals

A coach in Vegas can alienate a goalie. Never seen that before

The Western Conference playoff race is now in a new phase. Los Angeles Kings — Who needed the power and prayer of prayer Jonathan QuickIf you play 2012-style to defeat the Blue Jackets, Ducks, and Ducks, your chances of reaching the playoffs are higher (86%) Dallas Stars (84%).

On Thursday night, the Stars will visit Calgary. After that, they have four home games. They also play a de facto playoff match against Vegas on Tuesday. They have a game against Vegas and a two point lead in the standings. They may not be able to keep them at bay, but I doubt it.

The Knights will be able to hold off the Stars and Vegas will make it to the playoffs as the last wild-card seed. This would allow them to meet the President. Colorado AvalancheThey defeated them in six games last season.

That would be great.

The week's winners and losers

Winner: Alex Ovechkin

He remains controversial off the iceOvechkin, however, made history this week on the ice. Ovechkin also scored goal number 50 against Vegas. 50 against Vegas was his ninth career milestone. He tied Wayne Gretzky (and Mike Bossy) for the record for most 50-goal seasons. You can still be angry that Ovechkin’s politics put such a stop to these accomplishments.

Loser: Current Capitals jerseys

Washington is reportedly reviving its “Screaming Eagle” logoAs part of the NHL's Retro Retro series, you can get a black jersey next year. They're going be awesome and will put shame on the current sweater designs.

Winner: Igor Shesterkin

You may recall when the Rangers' goalie was having five average games, and people were taking him out for Hart Trophy consideration. His six previous games had a.954 save rate, and he also had three shutouts. John Wick said, “Yeah, I think he's back.”

Loser: Frederik Andersen

We pray for the welfare of our beloved. Carolina HurricanesHe was enjoying his best NHL season, and was well-positioned for what could turn out to be a long playoff run. He sustained a serious leg injury on Saturday against the Avalanche. Coach Rod Brind'AmourHe called it “a concern.” It's a concern because the Hurricanes have a shot at winning the playoffs.

Winner: Wichita

The Arizona CoyotesAnd St. Louis BluesOn Sept. 24, the NHL will host its first ever game in Wichita (Kansas). That's awesome. We need more NHL games at odd locations. Even though it is the exhibition season it's still hockey. Get a taste of smaller markets without major pro-sports teams.

Loser: Recollection

The NHLPA released the independent reviewThe response it gave in late 2010/early 2011 to reports that Kyle Beach was being sexually abused. Chicago Blackhawks coach. Don Fehr was exonerated by the report, which stated that “we cannot identify any individual wrongdoings or institutional failures in policy or procedure by either Fehr.” [or]NHLPA personnel

It's difficult to forget moments like the 14-minute call between Fehr, agent Joe Resnick in April 2011. Resnick had emailed Fehr to talk about a Blackhawks player that was seeing a therapist due to Brad Aldrich. Both Fehr and Resnick deny any memory of the conversation — it's one of many “I don't recall” moments in this report.

The headlines for Puck

  • How hockey is gaining a foothold in Mexico. The Mexico Ice Hockey Federation reports that 1,600 junior hockey players are involved in the sport. “We want hockey to be brought to Mexico. But we also want them embracing it and adding their own unique twist, their own culture to it.”

  • What went into the decisionDigit Murphy was named president of The Metropolitan Riveters. This decision cost the team its GM/communications head.

  • “I am a transgender hockey player in a women’s league. And that's exactly where I belong.”

  • The Detroit Red WingsWe parted ways as Zamboni driver franchise icon Al Sobotka last month.Now we understand why: Sobotka filed a lawsuit against the teamAfter a co-worker witnessed him urinating near the ice resurfacing devices, Sobotka claimed he was discriminated on the grounds of his age (68). Sobotka claims that Sobotka has benign prostate hypertrophy. This causes an uncontrollable urge to urinate.

  • Jokerit, which was expelled from the KHL by Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, plans to return to the Finnish Liiga in the 2023-24 season.

  • Good piece by Mark Lazerus on the use of anti-gay language in hockey. “People try to make themselves tougher or something similar. However, yelling at someone is not going to make them better. Explaining is the best way to make someone feel better.

  • Dryden McKay explains why he was the Minnesota State goaltender that won this year's Hobey Baker Award. accepted a six-month ban from competition for an anti-doping rule violationAccording to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

  • A woodpecker can be dangerous the world's largest hockey stick in Duncan, B.C.Please do not give Brad MarchandAny ideas?

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