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DeBoer Has No Interest In First Round Bye

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16 teams? 20 teams? 24 teams? They’ve all been floated as the NHL tries to figure out how they’ll return to action when the pandemic finally subsides.

For the Golden Knights, because they sat atop the Pacific Division when the league was paused, the smaller the tournament, the better. But, there’s one major hurdle even teams atop their divisions believe needs to be cleared.

Whatever the answer is, whoever’s team goes on that Cup, there has to be enough integrity to the process and the decision on how we’re going to do it so that team isn’t going to have an asterisk beside it in the history books. –Pete DeBoer on ESPN on Ice

In other words, whatever the format ends up being, there has be enough teams in the playoffs to make it feel like the winner truly is the best team in the league. No matter how tight the schedule gets, there won’t be any consideration of a four-team, or even eight-team, tournament when hockey starts back up.

Which leads us to the two most likely scenarios. The first is to stick with the normal 16-team playoff format the league has used for years. Everything remains the same and if you weren’t in the playoffs when the league halted, tough break. Everyone in the playoff picture, like Vegas, believe this is the best plan, but the five or six teams on the outside have different thoughts.

That’s what birthed the second idea, which is an extended playoff with 20 or 24 teams. For an example of what that could look like, check out our friend Drew Goldfarb’s proposal.

This scenario, as well as pretty much any other one with greater than 16 teams, gives the Golden Knights a bye in the first round. That’s something that sounds great, but in the eyes of Pete DeBoer isn’t.

I don’t want to be the team with the bye, sitting there after being off for a month or two months or three months. Having teams play two-out-of-threes and play-in games while you’re sitting there. There’s a huge advantage to having actually played games. I know the bye sounds like an advantage. And it is an advantage if you’ve been playing an entire 82-game season and you roll into that and you have 10 days to prepare for the next round. But when you’ve been sitting around for months, it’s a disadvantage. From a fairness point of view, that would be a concern for me. –DeBoer on ESPN on Ice

In a separate interview, DeBoer went out of his way to make the same point.

I’m more in favor of the traditional format. Although I understand that we’re not a bubble team and I’m sure for my good friend Paul Maurice (in Winnipeg) it’s different when you’re either just in or just out depending on whether they (use) points percentage or not. But yeah I prefer the traditional route. Not in a favor of a bye in that situation. –DeBoer to The Athletic

Now that we know where DeBoer stands, let’s hope the league returns in time for this opinion to matter.

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8 Comments

  1. THE hockey GOD

    hey boss, newsflash, no matter how you cut it, there will always be an * on this season

  2. "DOC"

    Of course most of us just want to see the season completed. I understand both sides of this. It WOULD be tuff to go into a PO series after setting for months, while your opponent just played & won a 2 of 3 or 3 of 5 series. But, in fairness, the extra play-ins may be what will be needed? I think that if it is a best of 7, then the better team might suffer in game one, but “should” rebound the remaining games? Good article Ken!

  3. Mitchell S

    Allow the 4 bye teams to play exhibition games against each other. Its not the best but certainly bridges the gap between being in a playoff series and sitting around waiting.

  4. Daryl

    I don’t like any scenario where teams won’t get any game experience before they playoffs. For teams that win their division and get a bye, they are at an disadvantage to teams who play in the first round. It takes away the importance of winning your division (or getting a bye). I say play 4-8 regular season games then either a regular playoff or a modified one. You can play the first two rounds as a best of 5 then go best of 7 after that.

  5. "DOC"

    Injury will be the thing that will not allow the bye teams to play “exhibitions” I think? For me, the best “fair” thing WOULD be to have some small quantity of reg. season games, (before POs start), IF time would allow!

  6. Tim

    My thought is this make it a 75 game season the 16 that make it are in. An example in the Pacific Vegas 71 games played, Edmonton 71 games played, Calgary 70 games played, and Vancouver 69 games played. it would take two weeks to finish the season you play the next scheduled games until you hit 75. Teams with less games played obviously would play more games in the two week period but all teams would get there legs under them and isn’t that the point. That seems the fairest and then start the 16 team tournament.

  7. "DOC"

    I like it Tim … IF they have the time. WHEN/if they can start playing again will dictate how many games in total can be played to complete this year.

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