The NHL altered its Stanley Cup Playoffs format four seasons ago to put an emphasis on division rivalries and many hockey fans are still perturbed by it.
For example, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are currently engaged in an exciting, highly skilled, fast-paced series but since they were the No. 2- and No. 4-ranked teams in the Eastern Conference, respectively, it’s not a matchup we’re accustomed to seeing in the opening round.
“I love the way the [regular] season is,” Don Cherry said Thursday during Coach’s Corner. “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 suggested 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 were the case this season, Boston would’ve been paired with Columbus in the first round and Toronto would have home-ice advantage in a series against the Penguins.
“I don’t love the new format,” Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said back in March. “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.”
Despite its unpopularity, it doesn’t appear that any changes will be made in the near future.
“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.”