On the lookout for equity within the playoffs? Give out Participation badges

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The NHL’s Return-to-Play Committee has been discussing potential playoff situations and a 24-team playoff appears to be the most well-liked alternative. In the event you’re in search of fairness in that, or the league’s current playoff format, you are not going to seek out it. Equity? That’s what’s holding up the NHL’s Return-to-Play Committee with regards to figuring out a format for the COVID Cup playoffs? Critically? Properly, if equity is the purpose right here, these concerned can do one among two issues. The primary could be to subject Participation badges to everybody who performs on this 12 months’s playoffs. The second could be to overlook about holding them, not solely this 12 months, however each season.
Of all of the situations which have been floated for the playoffs, if the league is ready to maintain them, concerned the highest 12 groups in every convention making the playoffs, with the highest 4 receiving byes and Nos. 5 via 12 taking part in a play-in spherical, both best-of-three or best-of 5. Underneath that situation, right here’s how every convention would look if the seedings are based mostly on factors proportion when the league paused March 12:
EASTERN CONFERENCEByes: Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, PhiladelphiaFirst-round play-in sequence: Pittsburgh vs. Montreal, Carolina vs. Rangers, Toronto vs. Columbus and Florida vs. Islanders
WESTERN CONFERENCEByes: St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas, DallasFirst-round play-in sequence: Edmonton vs. Chicago, Vancouver vs. Arizona, Nashville vs. Minnesota and Calgary vs. Winnipeg
Let’s get one thing out of the best way instantly. In another season, underneath another circumstance, this may be foolish. The NHL, even when it strikes to a 32-team league in 2021-22, has hit on a components that makes each recreation on each evening an essential one. Increasing the playoffs would go towards all the pieces these in energy have been saying the previous couple of seasons and would dilute the playoff competitors. There appears to be a sentiment that the league will improve its playoff pool to 20 groups, which I’ll go within the file proper now as opposing. With solely half the groups being given the privilege of taking part in within the post-season, that makes it an accomplishment price celebrating. It’s imagined to be arduous to make the playoffs.
However in a season wherein the world has turned upside-down and the league is in a scenario the place it’s $1.1 billion beneath projected revenues, a 24-team playoff is smart, notably when groups won’t have been given a chance to complete the season. However should you’re in search of a good taking part in area for everybody, you’re not going to seek out it. Not on this format, nor the present format underneath which the NHL performs.
Is it truthful that the previous couple of seasons two of the league’s prime groups have performed within the second spherical of the playoffs? No, however the NHL makes use of this format as a result of it ensures that divisional rivals will meet within the post-season. That’s essential to the NHL and to the markets concerned. Nevertheless it’s definitely not truthful. It definitely wasn’t two years in the past when the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets, the highest two groups within the common season, met within the second spherical. The Jets received in seven video games and had nothing left for the Western Convention closing, which they misplaced in 5 video games to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The notion has been floated that the prospect of a rested Carey Value would give the Montreal Canadiens, who in any other case would have been properly out of the playoff image, an unfair benefit within the playoffs and would in some way embarrass the league in the event that they highway his coattails to a Stanley Cup championship. If anybody must be crying foul, it must be the Calgary Flames, who would face the Jets and sure Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck within the first spherical. Any staff that’s scared of going through Value within the playoffs hasn’t watched him play the previous couple of seasons. He has clearly fallen out of the NHL’s elite group, even if this 12 months’s participant ballot by the NHL Gamers’ Affiliation named him one of the best goalie in one thing of a landslide. And if the Pittsburgh Penguins are involved about beating Carey Value in a playoff sequence, and extra importantly would use that as an excuse, they’re in all probability not a critical Cup contender anyway.
The identical goes for the highest groups that could be involved that groups taking part in the play-in spherical would have an unfair benefit of having the ability to work the kinks out after not taking part in for 2 months. Once more, if that’s your main concern, you’re in all probability not an elite staff anyway.
That is the way it works within the NHL. You play the opponent positioned in entrance of you. If you beat that staff, you progress on to the subsequent one. Try this 4 instances and also you win the Cup. The perfect groups have a means of rising to the highest and it’s very uncommon {that a} staff that has no enterprise profitable a championship finally ends up with its identify on the Stanley Cup. This 12 months will likely be no completely different. Which is why there received’t be any asterisks beside the winner. And there must be no whining or excuses, both.
Tags: stanley cup playoffs, nhl, NHL Gamers’ AssociationConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.

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