| Yes, But
A Radical Proposal to Fix the Stanley Cup Playoffs
12/19/08 - By Paul Krill
Right now, the Sharks are
in a position where we can say, "Yes, they're playing great, but it's the
playoffs that really count." And the Sharks record in those playoffs has been,
Under the current system, a team that scrapes
into the playoffs, underperforms and gets the eighth and final spot must win 16
games to take the Stanley Cup. Under this same system, a team that plays
fantastic all season and coasts to the top seed must win - well, it also must
win 16 games to take the trophy.
This equalization of the bad and the
good during the playoffs cheapens the value of the regular season, dismisses
the accomplishments of the top teams and rewards the not-so-great teams that
barely made it.
Years ago, this system helped the Sharks. Who can
forget the Sharks, losing record and all, winning their first-ever playoff
series from the eighth spot, knocking out the top-ranked Red Wings? In 2000,
the Sharks did the same thing, eliminating the Presidents Trophy-winning Blues.
But lately, the worm has turned.
In three of the past four
seasons, the Sharks have been sent to the golf course by lower seeded teams who
happened to be playing better at the time. So that's the secret - get hot in
May. Who cares what you did in December?
Perhaps it's time to give the
top seeded teams a bit more of a reward for their regular season efforts than
an extra home playoff game and also make those regular season games more
valuable. What I'm proposing is that in the first two rounds, make the series
best-of-six. The top seeds need to win three games to advance. The lower seeds
need to win four games to move on. A three-three series tie goes to the top
seed. The lower seed must win four games to two or better.
These series would be played like this: first two
games at top seed, third and fourth games at lower seed, final two games at top
seed. Lower seeded teams upset at losing the revenue from a third home game
will need to do better next season so they can get the higher seed.
This system would only be in use for the first two rounds. The marquee
Conference and Cup Finals match-ups stay best-of-seven.
Yes, we know
the Sharks lost in six games anyway to Dallas last spring. But in the previous
series against Calgary, the Sharks were up three games to two before that
series went seven games. Think the Sharks might have done better against Dallas
if they only had to play five games against Calgary instead of seven? You bet.
Imagine the excitement of regular season games late in the year as
teams battle to take the fourth spot instead of the fifth. And in this system,
teams that had to win four games in the first series might only need to win
three in the second round, should all the lower seeds end up winning their
first series. And, of course, this system might shorten the season by a few
days so that the Stanley Cup Finals don't happen so close to the Fourth of
Yes, this is a radical proposal that will never go anywhere. But
I hope it's something to think about.
Contact Paul at at email@example.com
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