Four seasons ago now, there was a huge change in the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Playoffs format. The intent was to put an emphasis on division rivalries, however, we have come to realize now it is not every fan's cup of tea. For sure, it would have been way more exciting to see the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs face up in a later exciting, highly skilled series, however since they were the No. 2- and No. 4-ranked teams in the Eastern Conference, respectively, we get them in the opening round...
Fans are not the only one put off by the new playoff format. On Thursday night during the Leafs and Bruins' first intermission, Don Cherry was quite vocal about the controversial modification.
“I love the way the [regular] season is,” Cherry said Thursday during Coach’s Corner, presented on CBC and Sportsnet. “When I coached, half the teams were out by Christmas [but] this year we go to the last game [before all playoff spots are clinched]. It’s perfect, but the [playoff] format sucks as far as I’m concerned.”
Cherry went a step further - as he always does, right - suggesting that the NHL go back to the previous one-eight, two-seven, three-six, four-five format that was in place from 1994-2013. If that changes would have been applied prior to this year's postseason, the Bruins would have faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, and the Maple Leafs would have had home-ice advantage in a series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, the fact that fans - and Don Cherry for that matter - are not pleased with the format, it doesn't seem like the NHL is about to do something about it any time soon.
“We’re not looking to make any changes,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during a recent appearance on Hockey Central Saturday. “We’re certainly not looking to add any additional teams. …Every game matters during our regular season, based on the format and structure we have, and there’s no reason to be contemplating any changes at all.”
Some NHL players themselves have even criticized the new playoff format in the past. Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri did so back in March when he was asked about the format.
“I don’t love the new format,” Kadri explained then. “I don’t think you should be able to have a season like we’re having and still face a team that’s had a better season. Home ice, how we’re rolling, that plays an important role. I’m not a huge fan. It’s just the hand we’re dealt.”
What do you think of the current playoff format? Would you prefer going back to the previous one-eight, two-seven, three-six, four-five format that was in place from 1994-2013?