Changing the NHL playoff format won't kill rivalries

At NHL All-Star Weekend, Sidney Crosby shared his desire to see change in the league's playoff format. The existing divisional structure leads to frequent showdowns based on proximity and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't appear to have an appetite for change but critiques argue there are multiple ways to nurture healthy rivalries in the game.

Video Transcript

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Isn't this a good way to show that the player voice has something in the NHL, if the league actually listens to those players and does something? And if they don't, then doesn't that show how little it matters? It's one thing if like a fourth line player said something. It's like, all right, fine, whatever. I'm not going listen to you.

Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, those are two of the most prominent voices who spoke out against about the format. I don't know. You've got to listen. You got to at least have that conversation if you're Gary Bettman or Bill Daly or somebody. You've got to come meet in the middle and figure that out.

And I get it. I saw the Gordon Miller-- shoutout Gordon Miller, shoutout Gordon Miller, legend of the game. He put out that tweet thread about how maybe we got to look at changing the number of games and how certain teams-- the amount of number of games between one team versus another, and all that. If it means we can get to one to eight, I'm OK with that.

I would like for them to-- I don't know. I guess, maybe it's just still going to be difficult. It's either, I want more Flames and Oilers games or I want one through eight. I hate the fact that maybe we might have to choose. I don't want to have to choose. Give me both.

OMAR: Honestly.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Why not both?

OMAR: For me, there is no benefit to doing well in the regular season. Maybe it depends on what division you are in and what conference, but that's what the main takeaway for me is. That again, yes, I'm making it about the Leafs. The Leafs have been a top five team for the majority of the season and we're facing Tampa.

There is nothing we can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it. That's a problem.

It's unfortunate that-- it hasn't happened this year, but there've been other years we're a team that's first in the East or first in the division, will face a wild card team, and that wild card team's pretty good. Florida almost lost to Washington last year. It was so close. Yes, they got swept in the second round, but they almost lost.

So it's like there's no benefit to doing well in the regular season. And I feel like we need to go back to that. It goes beyond the whole old playoff match-up and stuff. There's no incentive to do well in the regular season. That's why teams just get into a position and they coast.

Sorry. There's no benefit of doing well in the regular season in the Atlantic division. I think we've mentioned before, on previous episodes, the Pacific is nuts. And aspect of the Central's nuts. But in the Eastern Conference, a lot of it is set in stone.

I don't know. Maybe, is that the trade off that the league wants? They're OK with matchups being set in stone just to have them happen in the playoffs and get these robberies? I don't know.

I'd say over the last couple of years, the team the Leafs hate the most are the Jets. And the only reason that happens, because the Canadian division. So it's like, you can find other ways to get rivalry and hatred between teams. It doesn't have to be this forced divisional format.