There's been a lot of rejoicing lately over news that the NHL Board of Governors seem to finally be ready to pull their heads out of their collective asses and ditch the ludicrously stupid unbalanced schedule. There simply is nothing more boring than the thought of playing your division rival 8 freaking times. Yawn.
As you can guess, I'm all for changing that, although I'm fearful they'll find a way to actually make the schedule even dopier in the process. In case you hadn't noticed, there's not exactly a bunch of rocket scientists making decisions for this league.
But why stop at the schedule? While we're tweaking things, let's fix one of the most glaring mistakes the NHL has instituted in recent years: playoff seeding.
The current NHL playoff system seeds the team in each conference from first to worst, with the three division winners getting the top 3 seeds. That system is fair, balanced...and extremely dull. Oh goody, it's Nashville against San Jose. I'll be sure to add that marquee match-up to my calendar.
How could it be better? You know those division rivals you (currently) see 8 friggin' times a season? What's tedious in the regular season is anything but in the postseason when, you know, the games actually matter. Having to play your division in the first two rounds of the playoffs was one of the best things about the "old" NHL. It bred - and then fed - heated rivalries. And it's been replaced by bland divisional names and a sterile, unimaginative seeding system. Bully for you, Bettman.
I finally got around to picking up Adrian Dater's Blood Feud recently. Here's the 2nd paragraph from Scotty Bowman's forward:
In the seven playoff seasons from 1996 to 2002, The Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings battled each other 5 times to compete for hockey's greatest prize, the Stanley Cup.
One of the reasons the rivalry with the Wings was so strong was because we played them so many times in the postseason. No, they weren't in the same division. But, both teams were consistently among the best in the Western Conference, and were a good bet to face each other at some point in the playoffs. Now that we have a salary cap - oh, sorry Gary, I mean "cost certainty" - we won't see dynasties like that in the future.
And, thanks to parity and the seeded playoff system, we won't see teams face each other year after year like that on a regular basis. What a shame. So yes, NHL Powers That Be, please fix the silly unbalanced schedule. But, while you're at it, can you bring back the divisional playoffs too? Please?