hmm. That's a difficult one to answer.
I have to admit that my lack of interest in, or even disdain for, the business aspect of the sport is a good part of why I feel that way. The playoffs are a massive money grab. I acknowledge that this is important, however, and I don't really need to get into that further.
Two months is too long. Way too long. This coming from a guy who has no desire to wait through summer for hockey to be played again. I feel it's anticlimactic, and the elation of each win or heartbreak of each loss tend to blur into numbness somewhere along the way. Each year I watch as many games as possible and yet can only really recall a few momentous games or even highlights. They don't call it 'the second season' for nothing.
Over half of the teams make the playoffs. I cannot fathom how this signifies a 'best of the best' tournament. Watching borderline teams scrape their way into a 5th through 8th spot each year on the hopes that 'anything can happen' just feels off somehow. It demeans the trials of the regular season, to the point that (as we see on these boards) being the 'best' team through the regular season is nothing more than a consolation prize to be held up in defense of mockery when your team bows out of the playoffs.
I look to last season as example. Everyone knew LA was a better team than they demonstrated through 82 games. But to me, they just didn't earn a spot among the best. Once they got in they played great; kind of like a slacker coworker who only looks busy when the boss walks by while you do twice the work. Of course, an 8th seed cinderella story makes for great headlines, so I admit to some wavering on this.
Obviously the entire system for entering the playoffs is goofy as well. The contrived rivalries the league tries to generate by promoting divisional and conference games is a farce. This season will be a good example, as the conferences won't even meet until the finals. How are divisional winners with fewer points than a 4th or 5th seed qualified as 'best on best'? Did the top 16 teams really
make the playoffs last year?
Anyway, the short answer (lol) is that I don't know what I'd prefer. Top 4 teams from each conference, perhaps. An equal number of games verse each team during the regular season to ensure the top teams have actually beaten as many opponents as possible on their way to the playoffs. A season that means more than 3.3 billion dollars in revenue. A play-in wildcard game for the bubble teams. A true top v bottom elimination format.
Who knows, who cares? I'll still watch, I'll still love it, I'll always wonder if a gold medal means more or less than a silver chalice. And I'll cheer just as hard for those nine year old kids who finally win their last game of the year.
Edited by Maninthebox, 28 January 2013 - 02:10 AM.