A Modest Proposal

Editor’s Note: Rob and I told J.J. from Kansas that if he ever needed a place to vent or throw a few thoughts into the wild, he has a forum. He’s a good friend of TPL’s, and we’re proud to give him the keys today. Without further ado, the first TPL guest post:

Ok, put down the baby and the hot sauce Mr. Pronger, it’s even more modest than that.  I don’t want to be forced to eat Irish children any more than you; but, if it means having the best possible NHL there can be, then spread some mustard on lil’ Patrick and hand him over, buddy. 

My simple idea: give the Stanley Cup to the best team in the NHL every year.
I won’t try to rehash the reasons why, but we all know that Petrella is right about the Eastern Conference.  If the entire NHL were a pig, the Eastern Conference would be the parts that get made into hot dogs.  This is a big problem for the playoffs.  If somebody had to choose between a fresh hotdog and some three-week-old pounded-out ham steak, the one made of lips and buttholes might win out just because it’s fresher.  Not to mix too many animal metaphors into this, but that’s bullshit.
Here’s my solution: Keep the Eastern and Western conferences exactly as they are, but seed the playoff matchups 1-16 and let the two teams to come out of that melange vie for Lord Stanley’s Chalice.  Let’s face it, regional matchups sell regular season tickets.  It’s good to have the Kings and Ducks play six times a year.  Let them all fight it out exactly as-is for playoff seedings (1-8 from each conference get in), but when the first season ends in April, all bets are off.  Playoff hockey is inherently interesting, no matter which two teams you have facing off and if you want to create lasting interest, having a wider selection of teams with whom to build playoff rivalries makes it more interesting.
It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better.  For instance, this year the matchups would have been:
Washington – Montreal
San Jose – Philadelphia
Chicago – Boston
Phoenix – Ottawa
Vancouver – Colorado
New Jersey – Buffalo
Detroit – Nashville
Pittsburgh – Los Angeles
I’m making some guesses as to who would have won each of these series, but here’s what I think this second round would look like:
San Jose – Montreal (The Cinderella 19th-best-in-the-league Team crowns the new choke artists before facing the old)
Chicago – Buffalo (Patrick Kane’s team versus his old stomping grounds… provided that cabby’s face still lives in Buffalo)
Phoenix – Pittsburgh (Gary’s new team versus Gary’s old team)
Vancouver – Detroit (I don’t have to tell you guys why that series would be awesome)
Two things:  1. No Eastern Conference team has a home series here, and 2. in all likelihood, this would leave only Pittsburgh from the East with a chance to win the cup.  Everybody knows this is how it already is, it just makes more sense to know it a full round earlier, when the Penguins have to actually face off against teams who play defense AND offense. 
You want to talk trophies though?  The Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales are given to the regular season West & East champs and the Presidents Trophy is retired, so that at least Washington can golf comfortably knowing they’ll be the last team to have ever won it. 
What do you think?  I’m a genius, right?

142 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal”

  1. Amen. It's simply rediculous (to me anyway) that the remaining Eastern Conference teams won't have home ice when they get to the Finals, no matter which team makes it out of the West. This was a subpar season in the eyes of many Wings fans and they still ended up with more points than all but two of those teams in the East.

    Great read–kudos.

  2. I'm all for this idea. It's frustrating to see Pittsburgh have such an easy road back to the finals, their toughest matchup will be Boston or Philly next round…but really, that matchup is no tougher than, say, Red Wings v. Coyotes, or Chicago v. Nashville, or Vancouver v. LA (all round one matchups, duh!). Boston/Philly will push Pittsburgh, but I have no doubt that Pitt will prevail in 6 or 7 games. IT just doesn't seem fair.

    I actually heard this argument discussed on NHL Live one day not that long ago…they argued against the 16-seed pooled system because of potential nightmarish traveling prospects for round one, e.g. Vancouver v. Florida or San Jose v. Montreal. My response to that? Travelling-wise, the current system is unfairly biased in favor the Eastern conference, because the simple facts is distances between teams in teh East is less than the West. So, why not make it a level playing field (in terms of travel)? The it becomes the luck of the draw…and teams such as DETROIT won't have the unfair burden of travel wearing them out by the time the finals roll around a week earlier than originally scheduled against Pittsburgh.

  3. Anonymous, that's an excellent point. The original thought was to get rid of East/West conferences (one conference would get the Pacific and the other the Northwest divisions), but that only seemed to add travel for travel's sake during the regular season. I didn't think that would work very well to actually help grow the game.

    The thing is that you're exactly right that there's already travel bias in the playoffs for the west. You're never going to eliminate luck from the picture and luck of the draw is going to be part of that. Maybe it would let some of the Eastern writers finally appreciate the playoff road the Wings have had for the past 19 years and how much more amazing that makes those four cups.

  4. I agree. There are issues of course, but you have tackled them really well. The one reason it will never happen? The risk of losing all the East coast teams and East coast media.

    I would like a baseball-ish system though with two conferences split into East, central and east

  5. J.J. –

    I have a pet realignment that I've been peddling for years. It's a bit similar, but much more radical. It gets rid of Conferences altogether, because conferences are so uneven (in level of play and in level of travel) and really have no historical value.

    Maybe I'll bug Discher to let me vent mine.

    Nice thoughts man!

  6. Dude, you're a genius. The East is getting less and less relevant. Let's make them count. Maybe playing more Western teams will make those lazy Easterners rethink about their teams…

  7. I have no problems with travel discrepancies.

    Suck it up, buttercup, and quit whining. As for wanting more teams from the East to do better in the playoffs, tell them that it's easy – just DON'T SUCK SO MUCH for a change, and the junior varsity will have more teams advancing.

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