NHL Possibly Switching Postseason Format?

Tonight's Healthy ScratchesCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 26: Gary Bettman of the NHL photographed during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Monday's general managers meetings was primarily focused around headshots, mainly stemming from the most recent altercation between Matt Cooke and Marc Savard this past Sunday.

One topic caught my eye, however. A discussion was brought up to change the current structure for the playoffs.

Instead of having the division winners, and then the next top-five teams from each conference making the postseason, it was discussed to have the top-seven teams from each conference make the postseason.

The remaining eight teams from each conference would then play in a qualification round with single-game eliminations.

In other words, if the season ended today this is what the Eastern Conference would look like heading into the playoffs:

1. Washington

2. Pittsburgh

3. Buffalo

4. New Jersey

5. Ottawa

6. Philadelphia

7. Montreal

Those teams would be guaranteed a playoff position. But then, the eighth spot would be won by the remaining eight teams.

Boston, who currently sits in eighth place, would play Toronto. The Rangers would play the Islanders, Atlanta would play Carolina, and Tampa Bay would play Florida. The winners would then play each other while the losers season was over.

Theoretically, we could see the Maple Leafs, with 52 points and 20 wins on the season, make it into the playoffs.

Would it be interesting and exciting? Probably, anytime a tournament is in play it always makes for exciting sports.

But, do I like the idea? Absolutely not. Maybe if I were a Maple Leafs or Oilers fan right now I would, but it's a terrible idea.

It's hard enough for these teams who are fighting to no end, scratching and clawing their way into the bottom seeds of the playoffs to deal with the teams just ahead and just behind them.

Now throw in the element of a cellar-dweller getting hot in one game to ruin your season? Terrible idea.

If the NHL wants to make a change, maybe it should look at their point system. Not giving teams a point for just making it to overtime would make teams actually play the last 10 minutes of the game rather than just hold on to get to overtime.

The shootout and overtime system already makes the postseason chase interesting enough, the NHL does not need to confuse it's viewers any more than it already does.