NHL Needs to Dump their Playoff Proposal and Take Mine

I'm not a traditional hockey guy.  Might have been at one time, but someone took my hockey team away.  I came back during the shootout era and do enjoy it.

Now that the NHL wants to re-align divisions or conferences to match geography and time zones (imagine that!), they absolutely NEED to carry this format into the playoffs.  You don't have teams battling each other four times a year so they can play a team halfway across the country when it matters.  Hell no.

So I'm going to combine those two philosophies into my ideal playoff format AKA the NHL is nuts if they don't adopt it.

1. Teams and conferences remain the same as the current proposal (per Pierre LeBrun):

Atlantic: CAR - CBJ - NJD - NYI - NYR - PHI - PIT - WSH
Central: BOS - BUF - DET - FLA - MTL - OTT - TBL - TOR
Midwest: CHI - COL - DAL - MIN - NSH - STL - WPG
Pacific: ANA - CGY - EDM - LAK - PHX - SJS - VAN

2. Top three teams in each division are guaranteed a playoff spot.

3. The fourth and fifth teams in each division have a one-game playoff for the divisional wildcard playoff spot.

4. First and second rounds are held within the division, i.e. 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3.

5. First round is best-of-five.

6. Everything else is the same as the current format.

Honestly, why bother with divisions if you don't carry over to the playoffs?  The conference wildcard is ridiculous.  We move everything around and then you could have Vancouver vs Dallas?  Come on.

Probably the second most controversial idea us the one-game playoff for the final spot.  Sure you can argue against it (regular season is meaningless! it's always been eight teams!), but look at the re-drawn matchups below and tell me you wouldn't love to see it.  Just like you secretly love the shootout.

Finally, why best-of-five?  It takes sixteen wins, not fifteen!  It ruins the tradition!  Well, it used to be two playoff rounds, best-of-seven.  They also used to play 50 games a season.  Today you can play up to 116 games including pre-season if you go to game sevens.  Losing one or two isn't going to hurt anyone and will help end the playoffs in May.

Now, on to the fun part.  I've taken the standings of each season post-lockout and used the new divisions to draw up some matchups.  Take a look:


Carolina - (NY Rangers/NY Islanders)
New Jersey - Philadelphia

Detroit - (Montreal/Tampa Bay)
Ottawa - Buffalo

Dallas - (Winnipeg/Minnesota)
Nashville - Colorado

Calgary - (Edmonton/Vancouver)
San Jose - Anaheim

Okay, let's just top here.  I love it.  One game playoffs between Rags and Isles, Jets and Wild, Eddy and Vanny?  Yes!  And then you have a nice Cali battle too.


New Jersey - (NY Islanders/Carolina)
Pittsburgh - NY Rangers

Detroit - (Tampa Bay/Toronto)
Buffalo - Ottawa

Nashville - (Winnipeg/Colorado)
Dallas - Minnesota

Anaheim - (Calgary/Edmonton)
San Jose - Vancouver

Good things here.  Pens vs Rags and a Buffalo vs Ottawa rematch.  And then you have Dallas vs Minnesota first round?  San Jose - Vancouver? Yes!


Pittsburgh - (Philadelphia/Washington)
New Jersey - NY Rangers

Detroit - (Boston/Buffalo)
Montreal - Ottawa

Minnesota - (Nashville/Chicago)
Dallas - Colorado

San Jose - (Vancouver/Edmonton)
Anaheim - Calgary

I really like all those Eastern matchups.  Nash vs Chi to make it in is interesting.  Love the San Jose vs wildcard too.


Washington - (Philadelphia/Carolina)
New Jersey - Pittsburgh

Boston - (Florida/Buffalo)
Detroit - Montreal

Chicago - (Nashville/Dallas)
St Louis - Minnesota

San Jose - (Anaheim/Edmonton)
Vancouver - Calgary

If Philly and Buffalo win, love the Eastern Conference matchups.  Nash vs Dallas is very cool to get in vs Chicago.  St Louis vs Minnesota...can you say birth of a rivalry?  And again, that's the year Gabby came back on fire at the end of the season and we got rid of Lemaire/Riser...


Washington - (Philadelphia/NY Rangers)
New Jersey - Pittsburgh

Detroit - (Boston/Montreal)
Buffalo - Ottawa

Chicago - (St Louis/Dallas)
Nashville - Colorado

San Jose - (Los Angeles/Calgary)
Phoenix - Vancouver

Remember when Philly got in over the Rags on a shootout the last game of the season?  How about that game goes to sudden death instead?  Also, Bruins and Habs to get in vs Detroit?  I love that you're competing to see who goes up against the big dogs.


Washington - (NY Rangers/Carolina)
Philadelphia - Pittsburgh

Detroit - (Montreal/Buffalo)
Boston - Tampa Bay

Nashville - (St Louis/Minnesota)
Chicago - Dallas

Vancouver - (Phoenix/Los Angeles)
San Jose - Anaheim

Wild in a one-game playoff during the Todd Richards, Martin Havlat, and Brent Burns era?  And if they win, they don't get Jonas Brodin?


NY Rangers - (New Jersey/Washington)
Pittsburgh - Philadelphia

Boston - (Ottawa/Buffalo)
Detroit - Florida

St Louis - (Dallas/Colorado)
Nashville - Chicago

Vancouver - (Los Angeles/Calgary)
Phoenix - San Jose

First off, LA loses that game and we have a different Cup winner.  Another Ottawa/Buffalo rematch.  Pittsburgh and Philly still in the first round.  Detroit vs Florida sucks, but that's on the conference makers.

For Wild fans, that's potentially THREE more times the Wild make the playoffs (2006, 2009, 2011).  You can't tell me you wouldn't want to see the NHL pick up this option.


  1. Like the idea save for the best of 5. In a gate driven league you want the extra game. In a best of 7 each team is guaranteed two home games, so do you deny a team a chance to rake some money in?

  2. This actually addresses most of my issues with the current proposed format. It gets rid of the crossover wildcard, which is bush league and sounds like something out of a less legitimate league (MLS did it and had league champs win for the wrong conference). At the same time, more teams get a chance to play for the postseason - even with two unbalanced conferences - and increases the intensity of some rivalries.

    There are issues like taking away a game in a gate-driven league (although having more teams having a chance in the playoffs does help) and still having unbalanced conferences, but unless the league expands to 32 with 2 western cities there will be issues one way or another.

  3. The main reason they went to best of seven was to give teams the chance to host at least two playoff games in the first round. For some teams, the raised ticket prices for playoff seating and additional HRR related to playoff games is the difference between operating in the red and operating in the black.

  4. I already have grown tired of Carolina in the Wild Card game

  5. This is beyond stupid. How does Detroit end up with Boston AND Tampa Bay? Those cities are not nearly as close to Detroit as the cities they play with now.

    All you have to do is move Winnipeg to the Northwest, Minnesota to the Central, and Nashville to the Southeast.

    It really is THAT frelling simple!!!

  6. The Sabres would have been in or in 1 Gm playoff every year instead of straight out 4 years.

  7. Well, I secretly still hate the shootout, and I openly hate that MLB does a stupid one-game pre-playoff game, so I wouldn't like it any better here.

    I still oppose putting the two Florida teams in with the the three eastern Canadian teams while teams like Columbus are in another division. I'm sorry, but I'm sick of Penguins fans whining that they cannot possibly be separated from the Rangers and Capitals. I realize that splitting NYI/NYR/NJ would never happen, so why not put PIT and PHI in with BOS/BUF/DET, etc.

    Oh wait, the Penguins would have to play Boston and Detroit too many times each year. We wouldn't want that...

    1. I don't think there's any good solution, if you put PIT and PHI with BOS/BUF/DET, then you stick the two Florida teams/Carolina team with Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal. That doesn't make a lot of sense either.