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How Do You Like This Playoff Format?

via Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

Bill Simmons of Grantland.com is perhaps the most original sports writer since Bill James. One of Simmons’s ideas is a week-long, single elimination tournament for the final playoff seeds in the NBA. As you read this, just substitute NHL for NBA and tell us it wouldn’t be a TV blockbuster.

“Let’s say we cut down the regular season to 78 games, lock down the top seven seeds in each conference, then stage a week-long, single elimination, 16-team tournament between the nonplayoff teams for the 8-seeds. (No conferences, just no. 15 through no. 30 seeded in order.)

“The higher seeds would host the first two rounds from Sunday through Wednesday; the last two rounds (The Final FourGotten) would rotate every year in New York or Los Angeles on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, becoming something of a fun sports weekend along the lines of all-star weekend. Friday night’s winners would clinch playoff berths. Sunday’s winner gets two carrots: the chance to pick their playoff conference (you can go East or West), as well as the no. 10 pick in the upcoming draft (that’s a supplemental pick; they’d get their own first-rounder as well) ...

“Lottery teams couldn’t tank down the stretch or shut down starters for nefarious reasons; not with a possible playoff berth and an extra first-rounder at stake. Fans would remain invested no matter how poorly their team was playing down the stretch (knowing the tournament was coming up). Sponsors would pony up extra money to be involved. We’d get a fun basketball weekend in New York or Los Angeles out of it. The 14 playoff teams would get 10 days off as their bonus.”

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Baroque's avatar

At first glance it sounds radical but not entirely horrible, until:

“Lottery teams couldn’t tank down the stretch or shut down starters for nefarious reasons; not with a possible playoff berth and an extra first-rounder at stake. Fans would remain invested no matter how poorly their team was playing down the stretch (knowing the tournament was coming up). Sponsors would pony up extra money to be involved. We’d get a fun basketball weekend in New York or Los Angeles out of it. The 14 playoff teams would get 10 days off as their bonus.”

Fans STILL won’t care until the tournament starts, ignoring their team if it is bad - and possibly even in the tournament if the chances of losing aren’t worth the high prices they would have to pay for tickets. Why bother paying lots of money for an almost-certain loss (in their minds) when the team has spent the entire season sucking?

Games so close together would increase the injury risk, especially for the winning team. They would go into the playoffs against a well-rested opponent and might serve as nothing more than a speed bump to the number one seed while all other series are far more competitive.

And I can’t imagine the playoff teams, despite putting the best face on a week and a half off, would really like it. Time to rest and heal is important, but more than a few days leads to lousy hockey more often than not, it seems. Teams get into a rhythm of games every other day, and anything other than that pushes them out of their comfort zone.

It would be a mildly to very entertaining stunt, depending on teams involved, but nothing more and it hardly seems fair to reduce the chances of playoff success for the number eight seed even more than they are already. Even more of a gimmick than the shootout.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 07/18/11 at 09:00 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

yuck. Whats the point of a long season if your just gonna have 1-off playoff games? No thanks, I pass. 2 thumbs down.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 07/18/11 at 09:40 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Too gimmicky.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/18/11 at 10:02 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Bill Simmons of Grantland.com is perhaps the most original sports writer since Bill James.

This sentence invalidated the rest of the article.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/18/11 at 10:06 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

Sure, why not. It’s no worse an idea than the VS studio show / broadcast.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 07/18/11 at 10:08 AM ET

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Didn’t Charles Wang propose this idea for the NHL a few years ago?

Posted by jkrdevil on 07/18/11 at 10:13 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Let’s say we cut down the regular season to 78 games, lock down the top seven seeds in each conference

I like it until that part.

I’d love to see the top 14 teams going to the playoffs, then #15 through #18 fighting for the final two spots (three games in four days - which is done during the season - , that would give the playoff teams six days of rest, enough to rest bosdies without rust).

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 07/18/11 at 10:38 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Now, what I didn’t like. First of all, it’s a gimmick (duh).

As you read this, just substitute NHL for NBA and tell us it wouldn’t be a TV blockbuster

It wouldn’t. The average-American might watch a Wizards-Clippers game, but even harcore NHL fans wouldn’t care too much about Panthers-Jackets.

Lottery teams couldn’t tank down the stretch or shut down starters for nefarious reasons; not with a possible playoff berth and an extra first-rounder at stake

Yes they could, but it wouldn’t be called tanking, just “rest the starters”. So, in January, the Islanders have to win 80% of their games to maybe try for a playoff spot. The other option is saving Tavares and whoever for a week-long tournament. Which one do you think they take?

Fans would remain invested no matter how poorly their team was playing down the stretch

No, they wouldn’t. Like Ms B said, they’d care only when the tournament started.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 07/18/11 at 10:48 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I think my least-favorite part of the idea is giving out a bonus pick.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/18/11 at 10:50 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Like many have stated, this idea would only tell fans and seasons ticket holders that the regular season is worth even less.

However, if you viewed this idea based completely on entertainment value, then it’s a winner. It would also be a HUGE TV grab as well as big with sponsorship deals.

Sports is entertainment. But you still need a slight semblance of dignity and integrity so that your sport isn’t viewed as Friday the 13th part 11.
Sure, it’ll bring in some cash, but it’s soul will be sullied forever.

I’m all for kicking around ideas to get the NHL more exposure and to help the entertainment value of the sport, but this is too much.
Besides, the games themselves probably wouldn’t be that great as both teams would be playing uber-defensive in order to move on.
Watching the Islanders and Panthers play a 1-4 or 0-5 so they don’t give up a goal wouldn’t exactly endear new fans to the sport.

Posted by Hank1974 on 07/18/11 at 11:04 AM ET

phillyd's avatar

I do like the concept but agree not all teams 15 through 30 should be represented. Since I also love soccer, how about pool play to determine the 15 and 16 seeds made up of 15 through 22 with the even numbers in one pool, the odds in the other and you play 3 games in 4 days or double elimination like the College World Series? Just some thoughts.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 07/18/11 at 11:14 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

None of it sounds appealing.  Don’t know why there is this constant need to change everything all the time.

What’s the point?

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Taylor Tucky Metroplex on 07/18/11 at 11:57 AM ET

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If the winning team picks their conference, the losing team could wind up with a first round series that travels between vancouver and florida - that punishes the team that came in first in their conference.

Posted by Brian from That happy place on 07/18/11 at 05:03 PM ET

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It makes a complete mockery of the season, I don’t think this idea has a chance in hell, which is a good thing.

Posted by Devils In The Details on 07/18/11 at 05:05 PM ET

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It was dumb when Wang proposed it, not surprisingly it gained traction when someone else re-invents it. Sort of like 10 and 15 year contracts.

Worried about teams tanking for the lottery pick?  Make the draft order the reverse of the order that teams miss the playoff. Not an owner would give up playoff revenue for the first overall pick, but it would be a nice consolation prize to the team that just missed the playoffs. It would also guarentee no more garbage deals at the deadline since it really does matter where you finish. Finish 16 thru 30 you pick 1 thru 15.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 07/18/11 at 07:23 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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