Rumors are the playoffs format could change in the near future. TSN/ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned this week the idea was floated about during the GM meetings earlier this month.
During the GMs’ smaller group sessions on the opening day of meetings, one of the assemblages did in fact discuss the playoff format during its open brainstorming session. The feeling in that smaller GM group, according to a source, was that it might be time for change. – Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com
The current playoff format system will end after the 2018-2019 season and the league will need to make a decision. The suggested format would mimic the nasty 1980’s true divisional playoffs. So the question is, which playoff system would be best for Vegas to qualify for the postseason?
The “old school” format LeBrun and the GMs he spoke with are proposing is a 16 team, divisional playoff. Their argument is for either a divisional or conference system, not both the way it currently stands. The divisional postseason proposal would look like this: #1 Pacific seed vs. #4 Pacific seed, #2 Pacific seed vs. #3 Pacific. After that bloody round, the winners would play each other. Four teams would qualify from each division. No wild cards.
If the Golden Knights only had to worry about 8 teams it brings up an interesting argument. Divisional games are supposed to mean more now but the twin wild cards water it down. The proposed divisional regular season becomes incredibly important which means fans will see entertaining hockey. When teams are familiar with each other it can benefit the underdog which Vegas will be on most nights.
If the league went back to a traditional conference playoff, Vegas would have a tough fight reaching the top eight. Lebrun noted the league isn’t in favor of a conference playoff. The travel always concerns league officials and NHLPA. Which brings us back to the current format. Not only are teams battling with divisional rivals but fighting out the entire conference for two wild cards. It will be tough for Vegas to sneak in over the next two seasons before the present postseason expires. If they’re just fighting against the Pacific, I think the Golden Knights have an outside shot.
If the league decides to go back to a true divisional postseason we could only hope they bring back the old classic names. Instead of Patrick, Smyth, Norris and Adams we could modernize the four divisions. Maybe Orr, Messier, Lemieux and Gretzky. Or Melrose, McGwire, McPhee and McKrimmon.
As long as there is no Bettman Division.
While I like the idea of bringing old school division names back, and even with the idea of modernizing them; Bettman would probably be more likely (though, they’re probably both be 0% in my opinion, actually) to have a division named after him than Orr, Lemieux, Messier (Gretzky, I could actually see because it would be a popular move, but the rest would be a silly use of some of their most visible brand names.)
The divisions weren’t named after them as an honor so much as in recognition of their establishment and continued funding of the league.
I think if they were going to update it but give it a traditional aesthetic it would probably end up being names like Molson, Dolan, Rogers, Ilitch, Jacobs, maybe even Foley (one never knows.)