A Modest Proposal,Part Trois

Okay so part three in the Modest Proposal series. If you haven’t read Part One or Part Two, read those first. Part three will make infinitely more sense if you read the first two. That being said, Part Three is concerned with everyone’s hot-button issue: Divisional Alignments.

So let us begin with the way things are currently: Read Part Two(now it makes more sense about why I told you to read part two, eh?)

Recap: 2 Conferences, 3 divisions per conference, 5 teams per division, 30 teams total. Division winners advance to playoffs (1-3 seeds respectively) with the top 5 other teams in the Conference getting playoff berths. Seed accordingly, typical tournament. Winner of East plays winner of West, Lord Stanley finds a new home.

Why this sucks

As we pointed out, the best teams don’t necessarily get the best seeds. Going strictly off the East and this season, the Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers are clearly the best teams in the East, but are seeded 1, 4, and 5 (respectively.) Floida, the second worst record in the playoffs for the East has the 3 seed. Great consolation for the Flyers and Pens: they get to play each other in the first round. Similar situation with the Central Division in the West.

What to do to fix it

The easy thing to do is to advocate a seeding system based purely on points with the winners of each division still automatically being guided into the playoffs. However, I think that there is a better solution that we can come up with.

What I’m saying is that, in case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I think the divisions are stupid. There isn’t really any good way to group all of the teams in the States and in Mother Canada into smaller subsets that should play each other at least twice more than any other matchup. This is especially true when some other matchups across the league happen once per year.

“The Plan”

The Divisions – Do away with them. Yes. You heard me. Do away with the divisions. I understand that it’s cool to play teams close to yours in terms of geography, but, as we’ve seen this season, there is an imbalance to this system. Consider the Atlantic Division of the East and Central Division of the West; each produced 4 of 8 playoff teams. That means that between the other two divisions, there are 4 teams that will make the playoffs…

Okay. Pause. Why in the heck would I want to get rid of the divisions? Some people don’t buy into the idea that there is an imbalance on a year to year basis. Whatever. To them I say this – there is not nearly enough interplay between the two conferences. 18 games per year to play 15 teams. Cool. Oh wait, its not cool. I’d love to see the Kings, the Oilers, and the Avalanche twice a year. Those are usually good games to watch. You get to see the stars from the West, which is apparently much better than the East. So I’d like to see them more.

Doing away with the Divisions makes more sense in this context…

Scheduling – We’re dealing with 82 games. We want to break it down like this. Each team plays every other team at least twice – one game at home, and one game away. So that’s 1 team playing 29 other teams twice each. 58 games. The other 24 games fall in like this: each Conference opponent is played an additional game – a total of three games.

For this third game, the home ice will be determined by the series from the previous season. For example: Ottawa and Pittsburgh are slated to play each other three times next season under this new system. This season, Ottawa was 3-1 against Pittsburgh. Therefore, under this new system, the third game would be played in Ottawa.

With the Conference games, we have a total of 72 games. For all of you math geniuses out there, that mean we have 10 games left to reach 82. This is the fun part. We’d like to institute a thing we like to call “Rivalry Games.” Rivalry games would be marquee matchups in which teams that have history could get in an extra game. Things like Pittsburgh vs. Detroit because of the Cup battles in the mid 2000s, Pens vs. Flyers/Pens vs. NYR/ Pens vs. NJD, etc. The idea is to  recreate a divisional rivalry feel, but to extend it to teams around the league.

Game Breakdown

A few qualifications:

  1. In the event of a split series (4 game series on year that moves to a three game series…to determine where the third game will be played) = goal differential of previous season.
  2. The rivalry games can change from season to season depending on what happens. The league makes fairly arbitrary decisions about the final three games of the regular season as it is (which teams to fill after the inter-Conference play has been chosen.)
  3. We wanted to go to a system where each team plays all other teams at least twice. This way, the teams in bad divisions (Southeast [3 teams eliminated from playoffs] and Northwest [4 teams eliminated from the playoffs])  have less of an advantage. You can’t tell me that the 5-17-2 vs. the Central Division Blue Jackets aren’t easy points for the rest of the Central Division. Of a possible 48 points against the central division, they took away 12. 25%. Solid record…not. #GotHeem. With the rest of the Central Division playing them at least twice more than the rest of the league, that’s a lot of free candy. What I’m saying is that I would like to see the league do something so that those points get spread around  a little more. Keep in mind that with this new system, each team would be playing another team no more than 4 times instead of the old Divisional six times.
  4. It would be cool to see teams multiple times throughout the season. Teams change. Those 2, 3, or 4 games could look radically different.

Okay so there’s the league realignment we’d like to see. Any glaring problems with it, please let us know. it’s a pretty big plan and probably won’t happen, but we can dream.

next up, the playoffs…

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