I was thinking after last nights game how it's a good thing we're losing because it's obvious we're not worthy of making the playoffs, so we might as well "Fall for Hall Brawl" (as John's been pushing recently)... and that's just wrong on every level. Yes, you need to allow the better players to go to the worse teams at the draft, but that seems to go against the philosophy of always going for the win... and how many fans tend to turn up to the last few games each season when their team has more to gain by losing?
Thankfully this year it's only us and Columbus in that position, but last year you had a lot of "High Risk" teams in that position - Phoenix, Atlanta, err.... Tampa Bay. So, given everyone's discussing changing OT / Shootout / Point Structure, and some people are mentioning changes to the Playoffs, I'm throwing my debating hat into the ring: why not change the way the draft order is decided?I've come up with a few variations on the below, but settled this as the closest to "fair" for all parties, and in all honesty I can see people not liking any idea because it's more games for players to play (and I'm sure to some "with little on the line"). It will also probably affect those chosen to play in the World Championships, but I've ignored that for now as that's a possible scheduling conflict and I'm not trying to create a two-month long event.
It's also not perfect – the introduction of the point for an overtime loss in 1999 was to open up the OT period and make more teams willing to "go for it" rather than settle on the point for a Tie... and all that happened was that teams would get defensive near the end of Regulation to get that point. There will always be "boundary conditions" where it appears better to go for option B than push for option A, and I've tried to counter those, but will always be unable to completely remove them.
1) The 16 teams that make the playoffs will draft 15-30 in a similar fashion to the NFL: the closer you get to the Stanley Cup and the better you did in the regular season (in that order), the further you should be from the #1 pick.
2) The two teams who finish 9th in their conference will automatically draft in the 13th and 14th spot: you shouldn't be able to compete for the playoffs and then the #1 pick if you fall at the last hurdle. The two teams will be ranked on H2H records first, then the standard NHL tie-breaking procedures (with the "better" team picking 13th).
(I was tempted to include the 10th placed teams in this too, but decided they were far enough removed from the playoffs – I could see the argument for them being excluded from the below though, in which case they would follow the same procedures as the teams finishing 9th for 11th and 12th.)
3) The crux: a playoff system . Nothing major, no best-of-seven series-to-death kind of thing, just something to try and redress my belief that the current system is wrong.
The teams ranked 10-15 in each conference are combined and seeded 1-12 as per the current draft ordering (with "1" being the worst team over the course of the season, according to the standings).
Seeds 1-4 get a bye, with the remaining 8 teams playing a single game elimination "preliminary round" with 5 playing 12, 6 v 11, 7 v 10 and 8 v 9. (I debated with the idea of having 5 play 6, 7 play 8, etc, to try and "match" teams ability, but thought it better for the stretch run that the better you play, the "weaker" your opponent would be).
For the "quarters" the 1st seed would play the weakest team still available from the "preliminary round", 2nd seed the second weakest, etc in a two game total goals series. Repeat for the "semis", with the highest seed left playing the 3rd highest seed and 2nd highest seed playing playing the 4th, in a two game total goals affair, and a best-of-three "Finals" for the winners. I've gone with "two game total goals" as that's a way of slightly reducing the number of games involved (something I'm concious will be an issue to some people), but would happily see best-of-three series in the "quarters" and "semis", and a best-of-five "Finals".
Losers at each stage would grouped together and ranked according to (combined) H2H win-%age and then standard tiebreaks (essentially seed), so losers in the "preliminary round" will pick 9 through 12, "quarters" pick 5 through 8, "semis" 3rd/4th and then the loser in the "Finals" 2nd, with the winner getting the #1 pick.
It massively loses its simplicity, a point I'd have difficulty arguing, but such a tourney can take place over the course of a couple of weeks and I'd hope makes the end of season worth playing for when it's obvious you're out of the race?