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NHL, NHLPA reportedly discussing 20-team postseason

Jan 2, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

Trevor Lewis Getty Images

An expansion of the current playoff system is being discussed internally by both the NHL and NHLPA, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

Kypreos reports that the new format would include 20 teams, up from 16. However, it should be noted that the topic has not yet been broached in formal negotiations.

Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise this has come up internally. We’re sure lots of ideas have been discussed (it’s not like they haven’t had time to brainstorm). So there’s no guarantee this is actually going to happen.

But if it does, how might a new format work? Well, first recall that the NHL wants to realign into four conferences. So our best guess would be one-game (maybe best-of-three) playoffs for the fourth- and fifth-place teams in each of the four conferences.

This would have two advantages. First, the additional games would provide additional revenue. Second, more teams in the playoff race theoretically means fewer fans giving up on their teams during the regular season.

Major League Baseball recently introduced an expanded playoff system as part of its new CBA, with one-game playoffs between two wild card teams in each league. In October, the new format allowed the 88-74 Cardinals to beat the 94-68 Braves in a one-game showdown and advance all the way to NLCS (where they lost in seven to the Giants).

  1. jimw81 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    leave playoff format and divisions alone. it’s the reason why the casual fan watches hockey.

    • bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Agree 100%. Don’t make it more confusing for my mom and women alike

      “Wait, so if they lose a game in the playoffs they don’t really lose lose?”

      • bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Not sexist, it just seems the new people to hockey are younger kids or women. Don’t alienate your crowd.

        When I was 6 I had no idea how the playoffs worked.

      • kpickup - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        I’m a girl and I watch about 80 games a year (when there’s a season). I’m sure I could figure it out. Please don’t generalize women as ignorat when it comes to sports because we’re not.

      • bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        Kpickup, i’m not being sexist i’m stating a fact. Sports leagues main focus is to attract new customers. They say they are “appealing to new customers” and they want to attract the younger and female crowd. So no, it is not sexist.

        The point of the whole statement is if you complicate the rules, more people will tune out. I’m pretty damn knowledgeable about sports but if you complicate the situation it’s not fun anymore.

      • bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        I realized it sounded sexist and that’s why I clarified. Read more clear before posting next time please.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        Or you could just say it’s more confusing to new fans – nothing to do with women, kids, elderly, foreign, etc. Why put a label on it that doesn’t have to be there?

      • kpickup - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        bradd94- Thank you for clarfying. I realize that you are not trying to be sexist. I understand what you say when you mean that you want the NHL to focus on expanding their fan base (I totally agree with you, by the way). Additionally, women are not the only market the NHL should expand in to. For example, what people living in more southern cities who aren’t as familiar with hockey? I’m not trying to attack you, but in the future, I would suggest considering word choice before posting.

    • comeonnowguys - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      You cannot leave the divisions alone. You can’t have Winnepeg in the SE.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Eliotte Friedman talked about this on Prime Time Sports last Friday, apparently this is a one time thing only for this season, the reason being that one bad week could kill a team and drive fans away. I’m not sure I believe it’s just a one year thing, I think it’s a one year test with the possibility that it will last if it’s successful.

      If they really going to do something like the for a year I think I’d prefer they just have every team play a 25 game seeding round, rank them 1-30 and have every team compete in an elimination tournament for the Stanley Cup. Because of numbers you’d either have to give the top 2 teams a first round bye or the top remaining team a second round bye. My final twist would be that 1 doesn’t necessarily play 30, instead one gets to pick their opponent then 2 then 3 and so on.

      Granted my idea is ridiculous but I think it makes as much sense as having 2/3 of the league make the playoffs.

  2. killerpgh - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    I’m against it. It just doesn’t make sense to have 20 out of 30 teams make the playoffs. If 2/3 of the team make the playoffs the regular season becomes less important. I know this goes against my point but didn’t the NHL have 16 team make the playoffs when there was only 21 NHL teams? Just doesn’t seem right having so many teams make it, imo.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      No, this is a great idea, because the biggest problem in sports has for too long been that annoying lull between the Stanley Cup Finals and the start of the NFL season, and this will help eliminate that! (sarc, for those still hung over)

      • tatdue - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:21 PM

        Watch movies or something buddy ~ changing the playoff format is not a good idea especially for that reason ~ personally I think Kypreos is just running out of stuff to talk about so he justmade this crap up…..

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:03 AM

        Good golly, even labeling my comment sarcasm seems not to have been clear enough for some of the dimmer bulbs here. No place for a diagram so let me be clear: I dislike the idea of hockey in June, so extending the playoffs would thus strike me as a bad idea. Get it?

  3. Stiller43 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    TWO THIRDS OF THE LEAGUE?!!! Give me a break!!

  4. davepol - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    All you needed to read was: “First, the additional games would provide additional revenue.” All the rest is filler. Blah blah blah blah blah.

    It’s all aboot the Benjamins. Our Benjamins!

  5. blkhwk21 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    That’s dumb. Let’s go the other way to make games during the season more important.

  6. mgp1219 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    What is this Little League Baseball? Everyone gets to play??
    Don’t do it!!

  7. napoleonblownapart6887 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    This is so stupid it’s hard to fathom. Having 20 out of 30 teams make the playoffs renders the regular season completely useless.

    • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      Not completely, but largely, and best of three series is such a bad idea

  8. ravenscaps48 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    TERRIBLE IDEA! The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best playoffs to watch besides the NCAA Basketball Tourney. Do NOT ruin a good thing!

  9. mountainmantride - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Idea: Just get rid of the regular season all together, I mean seriously why bother have a season anyway. Go straight to 20 team league whereby all 20 teams play in a simple round robin playoff and the winner gets the cup.

  10. shotzongoal - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Maybe for this year with a shortened season to make things more equal given the peaks and valleys, and injuries during a full season. But not a permanent rule change.

    • ferrantej - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      I agree 100% – it would be a good idea for this year with the shortened schedule (assuming there IS a schedule) but it’s a terrible idea to do it on a regular basis.

  11. bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    In the words of Michael Scott:


    That is all.

    • thailer35 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:43 PM

  12. ll8078 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    i agree it’s bad…but lets look at it now.

    an incredibly unbalanced schedule (compare Flyers to Caps) and it comes down to a point or two between being in the playoffs or not. Flyers play Pitt, NYR, NJD a lot more often than a team in the south, and how important is that come the last week of the season.

    Crossover scheduling isn’t level either, some teams play Columbus and not Vancouver while other teams play Vancouver but not columbus.

    • therealjr - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      It’s hardly incredible. It’s 6 games against your division versus 4 intraconference. That’s 8 extra games and I see you conveniently left out the Islanders.

      That leaves 3 odd games after playing everyone in the West. Using your example, 71 of 82 games are the same those teams, including the ones they played against each other.

      Teams that finish 9th or 10th can look in the mirror as to why they didn’t make it, not at the schedule.

  13. raveman213 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Ok for starters….. a CBA hasn’t even been reached and they are discussing this? Secondly, this is absolutely ridiculous. Why not just let every team make the playoffs and call it a day? smh

  14. ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I’m all for it! It’s not a coincidence that when 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs, more offense was on display, and hockey was a more entertaining game to watch.

    If increasing the number of playoff teams decreases the amount of bumper car style checking and hap hazard passing because a playoff spot is more of a possibility then PLEASE include 6 more teams.

    The league’s annual average goal scoring has almost been sliced in half in the last 30 years. Do I need 9 to 7 games all the time for me to find hockey entertaing? No! But 2 to 1 games with 30 blocked shots and 40 minutes of mucking and grinding is worse than watching soccer

    • tatdue - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Ya sure buddy having more teams make the playoffs is going to make the players better passers and stop blocking shots ~ Can I have some of what you’re smoking?

  15. bhawksrule - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Why not just let everyone in the playoffs then, Jesus.

  16. habsman - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    This smells like a Brian Burke idea.

  17. gunnyhighway88 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    This is crazy to me. What is the thinking behind this?

    They need to focus on getting a deal done, instead of throwing out dumb ass ideas like this one.

  18. mp1131211 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Wow, I’m surprised at all the negative response. I kind of like the idea. Playoff hockey is way more entertaining and adding two series won’t spoil the intensity of it, I believe.

    Are they still doing that idea about non-playoff teams getting a chance at first round? This would contribute to that process as well by making it a smaller pot.

    I dunno… whatever. Just get back on the damn ice!

  19. ironmike778 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    This has gotten even more ridiculous than I thought it could.

  20. joeyashwi - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Why not just get rid of the Stanley Cup altogether and just hand out participation medals to EVERYBODY?

  21. jpat2424 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:48 PM


  22. sportsfan69 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    How about add one extra team in each conference? 8 vs 9, then they play the #1 seed.

  23. sportsfan69 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    This gives the League and players more money along with more excitement. MLB playoffs were great.

  24. DTF31 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    This is probably their great “We’re sorry fans” idea despite it being the stupidest damn thing I’ve read since I used to go to Hockeybuzz

  25. capesouth - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    No. Downsize the league by a few teams and leave playoff format alone. Quality over quantity.

  26. trick9 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    This idea would work for this season only because the regular season will be so short.

    Would this work every season though? No way.

  27. whatthepuck2012 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Raveman I agree…why in the hell are they discussing this? They have more important things to be figuring out, IMO.

  28. shortsxit34 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Sure, why not? Except instead of 20, make it 30 teams.
    And instead of being “eliminated,” they get participation medals. In the interest of fairness, every player gets their name on the Cup, regardless of team.
    Oh, and each arena should get rid of their scoreboards, because they should no longer keep score.
    Instead of a siren or horn going off when a goal is scored, applause will be played for the goalie to tell him “Good try, buddy! You almost had it.”
    The goal light will now be yellow. Red is too negative of a color.
    Players will no be allowed to celebrate when scoring. Instead they should shake hands with the goalie while both teams politely give both players a standing ovation. Fist bumps are acceptable.
    Goalie’s should no longer have different gear. It’s unfair for them to have special equipment as it gives them a distinct advantage.
    The puck and ice will be the same color to prevent allegations of racism.
    Oh, and players get orange slices at intermission.

  29. bradd94 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Guys, there needs to be giant bumpers on the ice to distract play. You can pass/shoot and deflect off these bumpers. This will create a whole new aspect for the game of hockey.

    Everybody loves bumper pool. And everyone loves hockey. LET’S COMBINE THEM!

  30. antkowiak666 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    20!?!?why not just put all 30 teams in then.

  31. bricktop02 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

  32. mattyo99 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Thats all about the nhl & owners tryin to make more $$ from tv networks and ticket sales…i think less teams should make it, but i still like the format now

  33. sportsinhd - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    The playoffs aren’t broken, but divisional alignment certainly is. There’s something completely wrong about a team in the Eastern Time Zone being forced to drop the puck at 10:30 Eastern because their playoff opponent is in the Pacific Time Zone. Fans have jobs, fans have to work, it’s hard to justify staying up until 2:00 in the morning to watch a playoff game (or a regular season game, and this type of thing happens a lot if you are a fan of the Wings).

    Hockey will always have more teams tilting towards the East and Midwest, that’s just how it is, and Western Conference Teams will always be forced to log more miles, happens in every sport. But the start times problem has to be fixed.

  34. ironmike778 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    How about leaving it at 16 teams but eliminate Anaheim, Florida, Carolina, Phoenix, Columbus, and Nashville from existence? Works for me.

  35. phillyphanatic77 - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    There are a few problems with the current divisions but I absolutely hate the four conference idea. When they proposed it I was very disappointed. And now expanding the playoffs?? These guys are so greedy it’s beyond belief. The nhl playoffs might be the most exciting tournament in sports, and they want to water it down for a few extra bucks? Disgraceful. It would almost completely eliminate all meaning for a regular season. One of the best games I’ve seen was the regular season finale in 09-10 when the Flyers played the Rangers for a final playoff spot, and the Flyers ended up winning in a shootout and made a run to the finals. If 2/3 of the league is qualifying for the playoffs it will make those types of contests extremely rare. Leave the current system alone! The people running this league would sell their collective souls for a little extra on the bottom line.

  36. inhokewetrust - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    So let me get this straight….the league made 200 million dollars the leafs made 150 million on their own….and NOW the league wants to expand playoffs to ensure leafs make money…”THE LEAFS RULE” ensures the league makes money…wow

  37. sadhockeyfan - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Why bother talking about a post season? Lets start a season first a-holes! Greed greed greed. Ugh!

  38. richc111 - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    I can tell you exactly what this is all about. It is about increasing revenue, PERIOD! This is a way to pad the pockets of the owners and the players at the fans expense. This is what happens when you have a system of salaries that is built off of revenues. More teams in the playoff means more money.

  39. dprouse - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Beware of unintended consequences. Expanding the playoffs leaves more teams home and cooled out in the last few weeks of the season, their playoff spot secure and nothing to play for. These teams will, predictably, start resting guys and filling the lineup with rookies. This means fewer meaningful games down the stretch, and less fan interest.

    It also cheapens the playoffs themselves. Fans aren’t stupid, and you’ll see some early playoff games with lots of empty seats. Fans will be waiting for the “real” playoffs to start in round two. You see this in junior hockey in Canada – 16 out of 20 teams in each league make the playoffs, so the first round is a snoozer with zero fan excitement. Leave it the way it is right now…

  40. nyrnashty - Jan 2, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    More than half of NHL teams already make the playoffs 2/3 would be ridiculous. If the league ever decides to increase the number of playoff teams, regular season games should be cheaper to the fans since they wouldn’t matter as much as they do now. Some think 16 teams is already too much.Just my opinion.

  41. midwestwarrior - Jan 2, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    the NHL sure is trying hard to make sure toronto makes the playoffs every year. that is the only reason for this proposal is to do all they can for the lame leafs to somehow make the playoffs

  42. rainyday56 - Jan 3, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Listen, adding teams to the playoff mix makes a ton of sense to me. Look what happened last year. The lard-arse Kings (sorry Blom) backed into 8th place and won it all. One could argue that the true Stanley Cup champ (could be Dallas or the Jets) never made the playoffs last year. Now with 20 playoff spots available, LA would even have a chance to repeat. 😉

  43. omniusprime - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    This is the kind of scummy nonsense that the NHL is famous for, letting too many garbage teams into the playoffs. There aren’t 16 teams worthy of playoff contention much less 20. A bad idea to sucker NHL fans into wasting more of their hard earned money on a bunch of padded sissies on ice with hockey sticks applied directly to foreheads. Hopefully there won’t be any playoffs this year.

  44. klownboy - Jan 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    20 teams in the playoffs?! I get the NHL wants to make money and increase fan interest whenever the hell the lockout ends, but what is the NHL trying to be? The NCAA tournament???

  45. jtrain1966 - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    This is the problem with society nowadays . It seems like everybody has to get a trophy for participation ! NEWS FLASH, If you weren’t good enough to finish on the podium, you don’t deserve JACK S#!T ! But, that’s just my humble opinion .

  46. klownboy - Jan 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Way to reward mediocrity NHL

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