Some NHL owners still have interest in expanded playoffs

The Hockey Night in Canada panel looks at the biggest news and rumours around the NHL, with Alex Pietrangelo talk heating up around the league and the Maple Leafs needing to lock down Auston Matthews.

The idea of an expanded playoffs in the NHL just isn’t going away.

Despite commissioner Gary Bettman’s reluctance to move away from the 16-team format currently in use, there remains an appetite to change things up, at least from some owners.

Chris Johnston was at the Board of Governors meetings this past week in in Sea Island, Ga., and reported what he heard on Saturday’s Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada.

“A number of governors are still interested in seeing an expanded playoff format,” said Johnston. “And as we’ve talked about in previous weeks, it’s not something that commissioner Gary Bettman is in favour of, but these owners don’t seem to want to go away on this idea.”

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The NHL has used its current format since the 2013-14 season, when it switched to a four-division setup. But the league has seen 16 teams make the playoffs ever since its merger with the WHA in 1979-80. Among the new proposals would see two more teams added to the post-season in each conference, and have them play the seventh- and eighth-seeded teams in a short series (or just one game) in order to advance to the next round.

The added playoff games would bring in more revenue for the league.

“(There’s) some talk there about a 7-10, 8-9 (play-in game/series),” said Johnston, before adding, “we even had one governor saying he’d like to see 24 teams in the playoffs, which is pie-in-the-sky, of course.”

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