Specifically, the Wild Card system is pretty dumb. I didn't have a problem with a bracketed playoff, with teams from individual divisions playing in a more regional playoff, with the champions of each division in the playoff semifinals. That's fine with me. It makes sense. You may like a bigger playoff to find the so called "Best Two Teams" but I like the idea of two champions competing for the championship.
Admittedly, it was a little weird that with the Wild Card, two additional teams from the either conference could get thrown into the playoffs to, meaning at least one team would have to play in a different division's region, so to speak. I was still OK with this, though, because I figure it would quiet the people who alleged that the best teams weren't involved (even though, you know, the teams would be, at best, 3rd and 4th in their own division).
But then Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette tweeted out something to represent what hte playoff picture would be if the season ended today.
— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) March 22, 2014
Immediately, I looked for the Minnesota Wild, because this is a blog and not a newspaper, and I am a fan of the Minnesota Wild, and if you'll note, they would be playing the San Jose Sharks, and The Coyotes would be pitted against St. Louis. Obviously, the side of Mr. Stubbs' tweet has the rules for the playoff seeding, but I didn't realize this was the way it worked until now, for some reason. It's annoying that this purported divisional or regional playoff is being thrrown out the window for the sake of the worst teams that get in.
The real issue, I think, is that the team that would be punished the most (after the Wild and Coyotes) is the San Jose Sharks, who would have to do significantly more travelling in the first round of the playoffs, simply because they won the division. If were instead to draw the Coyotes, it's significantly less travel time. It would be even tougher on the Sharks in the second round in this particular scenario, because they would have been running back and forth through 2 time zones, while their next opponent barely had to leave their zip code.
This isn't as big an issue in the Eastern Conference, obviously, even though at this stage, they would also do the wild card division swap at playoff time, but under the current format, for what the NHL is trying to foment with this plan (i.e. rivalries and regional interest), the Wild Card plan is patently unfair. Just let the top 4 teams in. Expand if you need to and get it right.