Friday, March 24, 2017

I Fixed The NHL Again

Everyone seems to be doing a lot of whining in the hockey world. The playoff format is stupid, the divisions aren't even and that's not fair, the draft lottery is a mess and tanking is rampant, the officials are ruining the sport, the list goes on and on.

Nobody is ever going to fix the refs (in any sport), but I have a formula for the new NHL (after expansion) that erases some headaches and adds even more fun wrinkles to the league.

The Four Divisions


  • Boston
  • Buffalo
  • Montreal
  • NY Islanders
  • NY Rangers
  • Ottawa
  • Quebec City
  • Toronto


  • Carolina
  • Florida
  • Nashville
  • New Jersey
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Tampa Bay
  • Washington


  • Chicago
  • Colorado
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Detroit
  • Minnesota
  • St. Louis
  • Winnipeg


  • Anaheim
  • Arizona
  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • San Jose
  • Vancouver
That leaves us with a map that looks something like this (full disclosure, I do not know where Quebec City is):

The two issues I have are we're splitting up the natural Pittsburgh/Ohio rivalry and the blossoming Chicago/St. Louis/Nashville rivalry. Those are fairly minor issues, and for this geographical thing to work we're going to live with them. Nashville is certainly more Southeast than Midwest, and Columbus is certainly the reverse. Are Philadelphia and New Jersey "southeastern" cities? Ignore that thought and let's move on!

Let's Rename The Divisions

For reasons totally unrelated to that last question I asked, we should give the divisions names that aren't strictly location-based. Let's do something that has never been done and name the divisions strictly after 90's era goalies:

Northeast - The Hasek Division
Southeast - The Brodeur/Kolzig Division (please don't make me choose)
Midwest - The Belfour Division
West - The Sean Burke Division 

In the time it took me to find a goalie to represent the West, I decided to choose Kolzig. So there you have it - three of the best goalies from the best goalie era in hockey, and one goalie who played for a long time or whatever. 

Regular Season/Playoffs

We're dumping the loser point. If you win in regulation, you get two points. If you win in the 5-minute 3-on-3 overtime, you get two points. If the game is not decided by overtime, then it is a tie and both teams get one point. Please do not direct any tweets to my attention criticizing this, because this will completely change how the last four minutes of regulation and all of overtime are played. 

The top two teams in each division receive a bye for the first round of the playoffs. Teams 3 through 6 in each division play in the first round, and (like the NFL), the bracket will be re-seeded after each round. 

So, during the regular season, there are the following incentives for winning:
  • Finish 1st or 2nd in the division and get a week or two off during the first round
  • Finish in the top 6 to make the playoffs
  • Finish as high as possible to increase your chances of home-ice advantage
The higher-seeded teams, in theory, get rewarded with their strong regular seasons by getting dealt an easier road to the conference finals. The NHL is wonky and the teams are all generally evenly matched, but there is certainly incentive to win as many games as possible during the 82-game season. 

But wait, there's more! We're stealing The Gold Plan for draft lottery seeding, and mixing it with the Bill Simmons Entertaining-As-Hell tournament. As soon as a team is eliminated from playoff contention, they begin banking points (two for a win, one for a tie) toward their Gold number. At the end of the regular season, the eight teams that miss the playoffs are seeded (one through eight) in the Gold bracket. This is a single-elimination bracket, and the winner gets the first overall pick in the upcoming draft (runner-up gets the second pick, and so on down the line). 

This season, that tournament would look something like this (keep in mind that we're short two teams from the final plan so this is just the bottom eight teams in the league):

1. Winnipeg
8. Colorado

2. Buffalo
7. Arizona

3. Dallas
6. New Jersey

4. Detroit
5. Vancouver

The Jets and Stars could try to put miserable seasons behind them and reap the reward of an impact rookie! The Sabres could continue to add to their loaded pipeline! That Detroit-Vancouver game will be super boring! Think about the home-ice advantage in a single-game setting where the stakes are potentially a real improvement in the team's roster. 

The Gold tournament starts the night before the playoffs and continues on an every-other-day basis. The whole thing only takes seven days. Does anyone really have a problem with that?

Hypothetically, What Would The Actual Playoffs Look Like This Year?

As of the morning of March 24th...

Hasek Division 
  1. NY Rangers
  2. Montreal
  3. Ottawa
  4. Toronto
  5. Boston
  6. NY Islanders
  7. Buffalo
  8. Quebec City (last place because they are French)
Kolzig Division
  1. Washington
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Nashville
  4. Tampa Bay
  5. Carolina
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Florida
  8. New Jersey
Belfour Division
  1. Chicago
  2. Columbus
  3. Minnesota
  4. St. Louis
  5. Winnipeg
  6. Dallas
  7. Detroit
  8. Colorado
Sean Burke Division (make sure you use his full name at all times)
  1. San Jose
  2. Anaheim
  3. Edmonton
  4. Calgary
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Las Vegas (ahead of Vancouver and Arizona because those two teams stink)
  7. Vancouver
  8. Arizona

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