Friday, November 03, 2006

More On The Scheduling

Last week I noted how more and more people are complaining about the scheduling in the NHL. Well, our old friend Allan Muir of SI.com has offered us a solution and it is my solemn duty to rip it to shreds.

Allan first says lets add four games to a season that he agrees is already way too long to begin with. I think that speaks for itself quite well.

Allan then says let's ditch six divisions and go back to four. Caps fans would love this because it almost assuredly means that the Caps would be back in the same division with the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Flyers, and Penguins once again. Personally, I don't see how this all shakes out in terms of geography (how do you add all five Southeast Division teams to the five in the Atlantic and leave the Northeast five all alone?) or balance (you're stuck with either doing baseball's 14 in one conference and 16 in the other or 15 in each with two 7 team divisions and two 8 team divisions) because your best bet to "even things out" is more expansion(YEA!).

But again, let's play along and go with an "unbalanced" division set up. Allan recommends playing each team in your conference four times a piece and then two with the other conference to reach the magic number of 56 games.

Uh-huh... I agree with that the idea of playing teams in your division eight times a season is a tad on the overkill side, but what is the point of having a division if you play your divisional rivals the same amount of times that you play your conference rivals? Furthermore, what is the point of creating two divisions in a conference if you are going to stack your playoff teams 1-8 in the conference regardless of record? Why not just go with two divisions of 15 teams each because that's essentially what you've set up anyway?

Furthermore, I don't know where this idea that rivalries are created overnight through divisional alignment and/or scheduling comes from, but it needs to be dropped. Everybody correctly points out that the fact that you had to face your own division for two playoff rounds before advancing created the rivalries that exist today. However, the conference seeding format was developed because people got tired of seeing the exact same playoff matchups every year. This is only the eighth season of the six division alignment and Minnesota and Columbus are playing their sixth NHL seasons right now. Can you honestly say that this is a colossal failure this quickly?

I admit, I don't have a solution to the NHL scheduling issues. I do think that it is a bad deal that everybody does not play each other, but I've never felt that more divisional games meant more and better rivalries. I think the NHL would do better in creating rivalries by not trying so hard to create them in the first place. But lengthening the schedule and creating two 15 team divisions isn't going to solve the NHL's problem either.

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