The current playoff format in the NHL is passe and rewards failure.
I agree that the first place club of each division should have an opportunity to play in the post season but not seeded 1,2 and 3. Do the Carolina Hurricanes or possibly the challenging Washinton Capitals deserve to to take home ice advantage and be seeded ahead of a team currently behind them but with superiour points?
Case in point, did the Paul Maurice coached Hurricanes earn a right to compete for the Stanley cup a few years ago while superior teams eliminated each other from the process? Were the fans and media provided with the best possible scenerios to be entertained or spotlight the sport not to mention the advertisers to see the best teams compete? Based on the subsequent seasons and Maurice's squad unable to make it to the post season I think not. However, it did provide an abberation on Maurice's resume to provide MSLG with false hope when they hired him in Toronto. Too bad they didn't check his resume more closely...what is it, failed to make the post season 7 out of 9 times....and after this year...But I digress.
Is it not the ideal and responsibility of the league to provide the best opportunity for the best teams to compete for the ultimate prize?
Under the present format and with their play of late, it's possible the Maple Leafs could earn a playoff berth and even finish 7th. That would mean that they would play a weak third seeded team such as Carolina or Washington and pull off an upset which may not even be an upset and advance while a fifth or sixth place team could either be eliminated or due to the competitiveness of who they play, could advance and eliminate a 1st, 2nd or 4th place seed.
Either way, both the Leafs and the Canes could come out winners in the first round while superior clubs get eliminated. That hardly seems fair for teams that fought all year in an 82 game schedule to get to where they are and be punished for the division they compete in.
I think it would be interesting to not only have the teams seeded by total points with the only exception being a divisional winnner at least guaranteed an 8th place spot, but to have the top teams decide on who they want to meet in the opening round. It could make for some real intence rivalries, for example, if say the Canadians opted to play the Senators because they feel they match up better against them then perhaps another club that is at a lower rank. This would offer another benefit of teams using the regular season to finish high and offer them more control of their own playoff destiny. Plus it would make pre-scouting teams in advance a bit more difficult because you wouldn't know for sure what teams would face off until the end of the season when the front runners selected their opposition. This same guideline could continue into the following rounds and allow the higher placed teams to select the next opponant. Such as a team that finished well but just went through a 7 game series. Again the regular season finish would again pay dividends. Of course to do this under the present format would be insanity.
It is even more insane that the Leafs after a season of futility could even find themselves with such a realistic opportunity.
Finally, Mats Sundin. I think that when you retire you will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Check the polls, your inspired play of late is nothing more than a slap in the face of fans that actually really do care about this franchise and have had enough of mediocrity and last gasp finishes and mid round draft picks, especially in the last, shall we say 13 years. Do you get it yet?