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How NHL players would change the Stanley Cup playoffs

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The Stanley Cup playoff expansion is my mound to die on. My last breaths will be spent on the words “play … in … a round.”

I’ve already explained my philosophy and procedures in this column, but I’ll repeat: there are now 32 teams in the NHL. During the expansion era to Gary Bettman, 16 of the 21 teams advanced to the postseason. We’ve gone from over 76% of the league going into the playoffs to just 50% since the Seattle Kraken joined the family. The NBA, MLB, and NFL have expanded their own postseason fields in recent years, while the NHL remains stagnant, leaving money on the table.

The NHL makes no secret of how important the Stanley Cup playoffs are to its product. It’s like March madness: regular fans may not stick around during the regular season, but they’re going to the post-season tournament. New fans are created following the joy and pain of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the star players the league is struggling to sell outside of the hockey bubble are getting the full attention of the sports media.

Why not invite more teams to this party? Expand the tournament to 20 teams, 10 from each conference. Start with seeds #7 and 10 in the preliminary round, simulating the NBA model. These teams are going through a pristine 16-team tournament that we all hold sacred, and we’re about to start.

During the recent NHL Player Media Tour, I asked over a dozen players: What is your ideal Stanley Cup playoff format, and are you considering expanding the field now that there are 32 franchises?



Source: www.espn.com