Report: Some NHL owners want to expand the playoffs

Despite Gary Bettman’s strong stance against the idea, some NHL owners still want to expand the playoff picture. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
Despite Gary Bettman’s strong stance against the idea, some NHL owners still want to expand the playoff picture. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite the NHL being one of just two of the major four North American sports leagues which has over 50% of its teams making the playoffs, some owners apparently want more.

Despite commissioner Gary Bettman’s defiance towards the idea, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported that some team owners just won’t stop pursuing the matter.

“A number of governors are still interested in seeing an expanded playoff format,” the reporter noted. “We even had one governor saying he’d like to see 24 teams in the playoffs, which is pie-in-the-sky, of course.”

The math behind these executives’ desire for more post-season positions is pretty obvious. More teams in the playoffs means more games, which in turn creates more revenue. But while these owners want to see an increasing amount of clubs invited to the big dance, could you imagine if 24 squads (three-quarters of the league when Seattle arrives on the scene) make it? Bottom 10 organizations in the NHL would also be considered playoff teams in the same token.

Now that was just one governor, so it doesn’t sound like that idea has picked up a whole lot of steam. But, an idea that does have a couple of people talking surrounds taking a similar approach to the one the MLB employs.

“(There’s) some talk there about a 7-10, 8-9 (play-in game/series),” Johnston explained.

This idea to me makes a lot more sense. Rather than inviting everyone except the extremely inferior to the post-season, expand the Wild Card to four teams, and have them ranked. I would not do a series, because if the playoffs go any longer we’ll be playing games in July, but I think a one-game play in is a good idea.

After just three of the 15 series in the 2018 playoffs were forced to a game seven, some more do-or-die, suspense-filled hockey wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This will also help sustain the interest of clubs who in the past would be out of the contention to qualify as a top-eight team but now may have a shot of qualifying for the 10th seed.

Essentially, this is a good way to inject more engagement around the league, without making the phrase ‘we were a playoff team,’ meaningless.

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