Are you one of those fans that like the NHL the way it is? If so, this article might not be for you. The reality is, if there is a way to improve on something, why not go ahead and do it?
As it stands now, the top eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. Each division winner is seeded one through three based on point totals with the remaining five teams seeded accordingly.
The only problem? The matchups get stale.
There are a number of ideas swirling around about how to change up the format.
Some people want a homogeneous NHL that would do away with the conferences and seeds one through 16. Others want to stop granting division winners top spots when other deserving teams have more points.
The problem with these options is that it takes away a lot of the appeal of the current setup. It won't matter how novel a new idea is, a large faction of fans will still want to see their division rivalries—both during the season and in the playoffs.
From the league standpoint, travel considerations will take precedence. You can't possibly have playoff teams from one conference potentially facing off against inter-conference teams round after round. This would immediately put certain teams at a competitive disadvantage.
Thus far, the best idea I have heard regarding a potential format change would see everything stay the way it is—with one important change.
Once we reach the final four teams in the playoffs, we would re-seed based on points instead of based on conference.
This would make everybody happy and dramatically increase the excitement of the latter rounds.
Let's face it, as great as the playoffs are, fan interest takes a significant dip after the first round and steadily declines as we go along.
With the new format, the intrigue would still remain high based on the unknown and perennial novelty of potential matchups.
It would also maintain the integrity of rivalries for the first two rounds. All the traditional matchups would remain in tact.
If you apply this format to this season, Vancouver would have played Tampa Bay in Round 3 with San Jose facing Boston.
Yes, it would introduce travel strains on teams, but not every matchup is going to feature teams from opposing coasts.
Last season, the final four matchups would have featured Chicago vs. Philadelphia and San Jose vs. Montreal.
The year before that it would have been Detroit vs. Carolina and Pittsburgh vs. Chicago.
As you can see, there would be some very intriguing matchups in the final four with some fascinating possibilities for the Stanley Cup finals.
This idea might be wishful thinking because it would offend and turn off a lot of hardcore traditional fans, players and owners, but the new generation of NHL fans are young. Change is all they know.
Personally, I think it would breathe new life into the latter rounds and give the league a novel boost and step up on the other major sports leagues.
What say you?