Dietz: NHL postseason plan continues to make no sense

  • The current proposal that seems to be gaining steam in the NHL would allow 24 teams into the playoffs whenever play resumes.

    The current proposal that seems to be gaining steam in the NHL would allow 24 teams into the playoffs whenever play resumes. Associated Press File Photo

Updated 5/18/2020 7:39 PM

Growing up, I was always amazed at how differently the four major sports conducted their playoffs.

Major League Baseball was by far the stingiest, allowing just four teams to qualify.


Then there was the NHL, which gave 16 of its 21 squads a ticket to the postseason.

Each league has changed over time, although the NHL and NBA have only tweaked the length of their opening rounds over the years.

This season, however, everything's on the table when it comes to holding postseason tournaments.

If there are any, of course.

An NHL proposal that is gathering quite a bit of steam is one that would allow 24 teams into the playoffs. The Return to Play committee, which met over the weekend, seems serious about going forward with this plan.

According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, players want the regular season to resume "in some form" before the postseason begins. If that's the case, it could mean all 31 teams would be forced back on the ice.

So what does this mean for the Blackhawks?

Well, assuming playoff teams are selected by points percentage, coach Jeremy Colliton's squad would qualify with as squad No. 24. If regular-season games are played first, the Hawks (. 514) would only have to stay ahead of Anaheim (. 472) and they'd be in.

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Not to beat a dead horse, but this remains an awful idea. Why are teams like the Hawks, Coyotes (. 529) and Montreal (. 500) being given a chance -- however slight -- to win the Stanley Cup?

Sure, it's fun for fans of those cities. But is it fair?


As I've stated before, a better idea would be to actually shrink the playoff field to four teams. Use the 1980s baseball model. Reward the division winners and go right to the conference finals.

I'd also be fine with eight teams.

But 24? C'mon.

Contracting the field would crown a truly deserving champion and also condense the postseason to the point where next season's start date wouldn't be compromised.

As we've seen quite often in recent years, however, decisions are made because of the almighty dollar.

We can hope more intelligent heads prevail.

But I wouldn't bet on it.

• Twitter: @johndietzdh

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