Fans are once again getting excited, as the NHL and NHLPA have had a few solid negotiating sessions for a new CBA. With the drop-dead date of Jan. 14 looming over the heads of both parties, each side is in overdrive to get a deal done.
While a restructured cap, revenue-sharing and player pensions have always been major points that have always appeared in the CBA, a new idea has been floating around the bargaining table. The new CBA could feature a 20 team playoff tree.
The news was first broken by Sportnet's Nick Kypreos, and then Jason Brough of Pro Hockey Talk wrote an article about the possible postseason change. So what does this mean for hockey fans and the sport?
It means a longer, more watered down postseason.
Hockey already has arguably the most grueling postseason, with every series being a best-of-seven. Even if you make the "play-in" series a best-of-three or best-of-five, there still will be one to two weeks added to the postseason. Fans already have a tough time watching hockey in mid-June, so why does the league want to push the postseason back even further?
Sure, the diehards will watch the postseason no matter what. But the fair-weather fans, the ones that this lockout is driving away, probably won't see the value of another series before the actual playoffs start.
Plus, with the addition of two teams in each conference, the play will be watered down. Last year's run by eight-seeded Los Angeles Kings was a storybook postseason, but it was the first time that it's happened in sports history. It may not happen again for a long time. So by adding these two teams, its just making the run easier for the top seeded teams.
Teams won't be competing for their division crowns any more, or even to make a push to a higher seed in the playoffs. With two-thirds of the league making the playoffs, you have to be really bad to miss the playoffs.
Hockey is known for having the best sports trophy for the most grueling postseason. To add four more teams to the playoffs is a travesty. The current format allows for extremely competitive teams to get into the final spots, and fans can see the best team in the league win the cup, or a Cinderella eight-seed. There are more important issues to be focused on in the CBA, and the playoffs should be an afterthought once the puck is actually dropped.