Monday, January 17, 2011
My memo to the NHL
I'm just a peon sitting here in Pasadena and I'm certainly not as smart as a high-paid National Hockey League executive -- you know, the guys that put the Stanley Cup Finals on a network most of the country can't see. Or the same ones that kind-of-sort-of don't want to see the NHL's best players maimed in a series of Ultimate Fighting Championship-worthy head shots.
So here's my brilliant idea of the day: When it comes time for the NHL playoffs, get rid of the silly and contrived conference affiliations that lead to match ups that are either boring or too good to waste in the first round.
Example: if the playoffs started today -- Jan. 17 -- Pittsburgh and Washington would play in the first round of the Easter Conference playoffs. That means one of the two more exciting teams in hockey is going to get bounced in the first round and be absent for the rest of the playoffs. The same two teams that just played in the Winter Classic and were featured for a month on HBO.
Meanwhile, over in the Western Conference, Nashville and Phoenix would play a best-of-seven series that could consume two whole weeks. Maybe some good hockey would be played. But can you honestly say you care?
The better solution would be to get rid of the conference affiliations come playoff time and seed the league one through 16. That gives the team who wins the President's Trophy with best record some good incentive to keep winning -- they get the true lowest seeded playoff team for the rest of the Stanley Cup tournament.
And it would likely lead to more match ups of national interest, pitting some well-known Eastern teams against the lesser-knowns in the West -- and maybe giving the rest of the league to care about some of those Western teams.
In my scenario, some interesting first-round match ups if the season ended today would be Pittsburgh-Anaheim, Washington-Phoenix, Vancouver-Atlanta, Tampa Bay-New York Rangers and Detroit-Montreal.
Yeah, I know -- crazy stuff.
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