Penguins’ Crosby talks NHL playoff format preference, Connor Bedard

Sidney Crosby spoke to the media at All-Star Weekend and admitted he prefers the old, 1-8 playoff format as opposed to the current system placing the second and third places of each division against each other. Courtesy: Pens TV.

Count Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the camp that misses the NHL’s old playoff format.

The NHL veteran spoke to the media at All-Star Weekend, and admitted that he prefers the old playoff format that ranked teams one through eight in each conference, rather than the new system that sees the top three in each of the four divisions make it, alongside two wild-card teams from each conference.

From 1993 to 2013, the NHL had three divisions in each conference, with the three division winners grabbing the top three seeds. From there on out, it was just based on overall points, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 8 seed, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No, 5. The teams would also re-seed after the first round.

Crosby, who made his debut in 2005, made it clear that he prefers the old system.

“I like 1-to-8 just because I think the regular season is as difficult as it is, teams should be rewarded,” he told reporters Friday. “That’s probably the best way to be rewarded, even though there isn’t a ton of difference. I like that version a little bit better.”

The NHL’s current format has been under scrutiny over the past few years, particularly because it often causes top teams to face off in the first round.

For instance, this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, who are third and fifth respectively in the Eastern Conference, are looking like a good bet to face off in the first round with the Boston Bruins running away with the Atlantic Division.

Crosby was also asked about fellow Canadian hockey sensation Connor Bedard, to which the 18-year NHL veteran said he had definitely taken notice. He compared the hype around the 17-year-old to when Connor McDavid was about to make the NHL jump.

“He’s getting the attention that the other Connor did,” Crosby said in reference to McDavid. “He just continues to meet expectations — they’re high — but you see him play and you see what he can do.”

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Crosby skated with Bedard, who dominated the world junior hockey championship with a record-breaking performance to help Canada win its 20th gold medal, in the summer and offered rave reviews.

“No weaknesses,” he said of the 17-year-old. “It’s pretty cool to see someone that age as dominant as he is.”

Crosby is participating in the ninth All-Star Game of his career on Saturday, which ties him with Jaromir Jagr for the second-most selections in Penguins history, behind only the great Mario Lemieux.

With files from Canadian Press

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