Author Topic: The elephant in the room...  (Read 1305 times)

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Offline Nik the Trik

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The elephant in the room...
« on: May 22, 2017, 08:39:51 PM »

So apologies if this may sound like me repeating myself but it seems to me like there's something that needs saying every year. Call it the cap effect, call it parity, call it whatever but the playoffs have been awful this year, right? I mean, it's just not very good. It's a bunch of mediocre teams slogging it out with each other with the winners prevailing seemingly by attrition.

Look at the teams left. Two failed to crack 100 points. You've got the division champion from maybe the worst division in recent memory, largely because of the loser point. Then a Pittsburgh team that played most of their run with their back-up goalie and a defense so decimated by injuries that I think I'm their 7th defenseman tomorrow night.

The highest scoring Predator forward had 61 points. Same with the Sens. The highest scoring non-Pittsburgh forward still in the playoffs is Ryan Getzlaf who scored 15 goals this year.

Anecdotally? I haven't talked to anyone who isn't a fan of one of the teams still in it who's closely following what's going on. Sportsnet's ratings are up over last year but that's to be expected with Canadian teams in the playoffs. Still, none of the Leafs games did as well as the Jays wild card game last year.

I was wrong about a lot of things during the lockouts. I was wrong about how they'd turn out, I was wrong about the Players' resolve and I'm even willing to admit that I was wrong to some extent about what the Owners' victories would mean for the business of the game.

But I am very comfortable in saying I was 100%, sure-fire right about the fact that it has led to a less-good product on ice. One that is increasingly relegating itself to only being of interest to people whose teams are playing.

I may be a bad example but if you asked me right now if I'm more interested in watching a game 7 between any of the 4 teams remaining for a Stanley Cup final and day 2 of the NHL draft...I go draft. And it's not a terribly tough call.
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Offline Significantly Insignificant

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2017, 09:27:45 PM »

So apologies if this may sound like me repeating myself but it seems to me like there's something that needs saying every year. Call it the cap effect, call it parity, call it whatever but the playoffs have been awful this year, right? I mean, it's just not very good. It's a bunch of mediocre teams slogging it out with each other with the winners prevailing seemingly by attrition.

Look at the teams left. Two failed to crack 100 points. You've got the division champion from maybe the worst division in recent memory, largely because of the loser point. Then a Pittsburgh team that played most of their run with their back-up goalie and a defense so decimated by injuries that I think I'm their 7th defenseman tomorrow night.

The highest scoring Predator forward had 61 points. Same with the Sens. The highest scoring non-Pittsburgh forward still in the playoffs is Ryan Getzlaf who scored 15 goals this year.

Anecdotally? I haven't talked to anyone who isn't a fan of one of the teams still in it who's closely following what's going on. Sportsnet's ratings are up over last year but that's to be expected with Canadian teams in the playoffs. Still, none of the Leafs games did as well as the Jays wild card game last year.

I was wrong about a lot of things during the lockouts. I was wrong about how they'd turn out, I was wrong about the Players' resolve and I'm even willing to admit that I was wrong to some extent about what the Owners' victories would mean for the business of the game.

But I am very comfortable in saying I was 100%, sure-fire right about the fact that it has led to a less-good product on ice. One that is increasingly relegating itself to only being of interest to people whose teams are playing.

I may be a bad example but if you asked me right now if I'm more interested in watching a game 7 between any of the 4 teams remaining for a Stanley Cup final and day 2 of the NHL draft...I go draft. And it's not a terribly tough call.

I agree with you.  Do you find the NBA playoffs more exciting?  Or do you feel it will just be the final that is exciting?
"Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be. - Khalil Gibran

Offline AtomicMapleLeaf

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2017, 10:40:59 PM »
I agree, but I'm hopeful that we'll be complaining how un-entertainging our young Leafs are in a few years.

Offline Nik the Trik

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2017, 10:44:22 PM »
I agree with you.  Do you find the NBA playoffs more exciting?  Or do you feel it will just be the final that is exciting?

I think this year's NBA playoffs have been singularly bad and the league has some balance problems but in general I think the NBA has cracked a good balance of rule/team construction that lets individual games be more fun to watch than the NHL right now.
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Online Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2017, 10:55:44 PM »
Are you saying it's bad because of the cap/parity?  If so, I'd amend that to say that parity per se isn't the the problem.  Parity is only bad when the talent pool leaguewide is not deep and wide enough to sustain the evenness at a high enough level to be interesting.  A 24-team NHL with parity would probably produce consistently better playoffs.

I would also add that the playoffs themselves are a boring war of attrition simply because they are too long.  There's no need for the first two rounds to be anything other than best of 5.  Also institute 3/3 OTs during those rounds.  Then go 7 and regular OT for the last 2.  That would at least get the Cup presented in May, not June.

Finally, it's time for a new commish with new dynamics with owners, new ideas.  Love him or hate him, Bettman has been at the helm too long now.

Offline hockeyfan1

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 02:38:03 AM »
Are you saying it's bad because of the cap/parity?  If so, I'd amend that to say that parity per se isn't the the problem.  Parity is only bad when the talent pool leaguewide is not deep and wide enough to sustain the evenness at a high enough level to be interesting.  A 24-team NHL with parity would probably produce consistently better playoffs.

I would also add that the playoffs themselves are a boring war of attrition simply because they are too long.  There's no need for the first two rounds to be anything other than best of 5.  Also institute 3/3 OTs during those rounds.  Then go 7 and regular OT for the last 2.  That would at least get the Cup presented in May, not June.

Finally, it's time for a new commish with new dynamics with owners, new ideas.  Love him or hate him, Bettman has been at the helm too long now.


A shortened regular season may also be a welcome change, that way, the playoffs can begin earlier in late March and end by the middle of May at the very latest.  Or something thereof.

As for playoff rounds, best-of-fives for the first two rounds sounds plausible and best-of-seven the rest of the way.  I don't think it
would hurt to tinker with the playoff format, it's just that don't think Bettman is the one to do that.

I still think a slightly shortened season may be the better option.  More rest for the players, fewer games played, more intense level of competition, and more energy for the playoffs.

Offline Nik the Trik

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2017, 06:59:45 AM »
Are you saying it's bad because of the cap/parity?

I'm not saying it's bad for any one reason. I'm saying it is bad and I think the parity brought on by the cap is certainly a contributing factor.   

If so, I'd amend that to say that parity per se isn't the the problem.  Parity is only bad when the talent pool leaguewide is not deep and wide enough to sustain the evenness at a high enough level to be interesting.  A 24-team NHL with parity would probably produce consistently better playoffs.

Even if that were a feasible solution, and to be clear I'm not really looking for solutions here because I don't think there is an easy one, I think you're overstating the effect that would have. If you absorbed the six worst teams in the league and distributed their players among the remaining 24 clubs you'd start with some top talents like OEL and Nathan Mackinnon but by the time you got to, say, the 4th best players on those teams you're probably dealing with relatively minor lights. That's even to add one player per remaining team. If you're talking about taking the best 48 from the 6 teams you'd be dissolving, which again, would only result in two new players per team you're talking about inconsequential talents. Combine that with the fact that the cap system still would push the better talents absorbed to the worst remaining teams and the effect would be minimal. A ton of great players would still be outside the playoffs and the teams in it would see marginal improvements at best.

And, to be clear, from a feasibility standpoint you might as well be suggesting that we fix things with pixie dust and fairy wings.

I would also add that the playoffs themselves are a boring war of attrition simply because they are too long.  There's no need for the first two rounds to be anything other than best of 5.  Also institute 3/3 OTs during those rounds.  Then go 7 and regular OT for the last 2.  That would at least get the Cup presented in May, not June.

I think there's a fair case to be made that fatigue/player loss contributes to what's so bad about these playoffs but I don't think that fundamentally addresses the issue that narrowing things down to 4 or 8 teams doesn't leave you with greatly improved play from the previous rounds. There's nothing more exciting about Pittsburgh/Nashville or Anaheim/Ottawa than there'd be between teams that got knocked out in the first round. Until you address that then there's no build to anything. In the NBA, for all their problems, at least you're driving towards an end point where the best teams play it out. Anyone really want to make the case that these are the top 4 teams in the NHL?

Finally, it's time for a new commish with new dynamics with owners, new ideas.  Love him or hate him, Bettman has been at the helm too long now.

So long as it's the same owners, who the commissioner is won't matter.
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Online herman

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2017, 08:15:19 AM »
Do you think this tracks back to the false sense of parity from the points system?

Offline Nik the Trik

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2017, 08:34:28 AM »
Do you think this tracks back to the false sense of parity from the points system?

Not really. For starters if there were no loser point the Capitals would have 110 points. The worst playoff team would be, at a glance, the Lightning with 84 points. So a spread of 26 points. As is the spread between the Capitals and the worst playoff team was 24 points. So it doesn't make a ton of difference either way.

But more to the point I think there's just a simple eye-test here. Would you have gone out of your way to watch a Pittsburgh-Nashville or Ottawa-Nashville game in the regular season? Would either matchup be among the top 10 non-Leafs related games you'd be interested in?

The best two teams in the league probably played each other in the second round and even then it was pretty ordinary stuff.
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Online CarltonTheBear

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2017, 09:21:01 AM »
I don't think it's the only issue, like Nik said this goes all the way back to the lockout really, but I wonder how much changing the draft lottery rules has effected this issue. I think the big problem this season was that there were too many "good" teams, and not enough "bad" and "great" teams. It seems pretty clear that the change in the lottery rules has made teams re-think the idea of tanking seasons. We haven't seen as many teams trying to be purposefully bad since the change.
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Online herman

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2017, 09:39:31 AM »
I don't think it's the only issue, like Nik said this goes all the way back to the lockout really, but I wonder how much changing the draft lottery rules has effected this issue. I think the big problem this season was that there were too many "good" teams, and not enough "bad" and "great" teams. It seems pretty clear that the change in the lottery rules has made teams re-think the idea of tanking seasons. We haven't seen as many teams trying to be purposefully bad since the change.

That's the kind of separation I was thinking of when I asked my question. The loser point is a bit of a false sense of hope (and an actual mcguffin into the playoffs at the fringe). Patrick Kane mentioned that exact thing regarding the Blackhawks season

I haven't run the numbers, but what would it look like with 3-point wins in regulation, 2-points for OT/SO wins?

Would teams start adjusting their personnel and strategies sooner? I think Carlton has a good point about the draft lottery being far more of a crapshoot making it less tank-friendly.

The playoff format with the divisional streams also doesn't help anything but travel times in the East. I think it'd be more interesting to take those 6+2 teams and then seed them as a Conference by points and assign the first round accordingly.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 09:42:19 AM by herman »

Offline Significantly Insignificant

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2017, 09:45:58 AM »
See I'm not sure that cap really created this problem though.  Think back to the years that the Devils were winning cups, and I wasn't particularly enamored with any of those teams either.  I think the problem is that if you have one team that has superstars, and one team that doesn't, the team that doesn't knows that the only way to win is to nullify the superstars.  The current rules in place allow you to do that with too much ease.
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Offline Nik the Trik

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2017, 09:52:25 AM »
See I'm not sure that cap really created this problem though.  Think back to the years that the Devils were winning cups, and I wasn't particularly enamored with any of those teams either.  I think the problem is that if you have one team that has superstars, and one team that doesn't, the team that doesn't knows that the only way to win is to nullify the superstars.  The current rules in place allow you to do that with too much ease.

I think the Devils, and the way they played, was a separate problem largely having to do with issues with the rules of the game. Even still though in three of those years you'd have the Devils win the Cup, sure, but teams like Colorado, Detroit, Dallas were still around and exciting to watch.

Although that said, enamored or not those Devils teams still had some pretty great players.
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Offline Significantly Insignificant

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2017, 10:00:55 AM »
See I'm not sure that cap really created this problem though.  Think back to the years that the Devils were winning cups, and I wasn't particularly enamored with any of those teams either.  I think the problem is that if you have one team that has superstars, and one team that doesn't, the team that doesn't knows that the only way to win is to nullify the superstars.  The current rules in place allow you to do that with too much ease.

I think the Devils, and the way they played, was a separate problem largely having to do with issues with the rules of the game. Even still though in three of those years you'd have the Devils win the Cup, sure, but teams like Colorado, Detroit, Dallas were still around and exciting to watch.

Although that said, enamored or not those Devils teams still had some pretty great players.

You are right that their were exciting teams, and yes the Devils had some great players  but my memory is that once someone scored a goal, the game was pretty much over.

Maybe that's part of the issue.  There's more chance in the game.  More speed, which means that if you just keep skating hard, eventually you'll score a goal.  More goals if you keep skating and the other team decides not too.  It's not like every game is a 1-0 or 2-1 affair.  There have been plenty of comebacks, and a lot of goals.  Even a team like Nashville, which has the narrative of relying on Rinne, scored 6 last night, without their top center.  Maybe it's just harder to play a lock down defensive type of game, so if your stars go cold, the other team has a chance to win.       
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Offline Nik the Trik

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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2017, 10:09:49 AM »
You are right that their were exciting teams, and yes the Devils had some great players  but my memory is that once someone scored a goal, the game was pretty much over.

It's important to keep in mind that the Devils teams that won cups were three very different teams over a 9 year span. The '95 Devils won with a lousy team that got hot. The 2000 Devils were one of the highest scoring teams in the league with a good, but not spectacular, goals against. The '03 Devils were a drill down defensive team.

That said, they won 3 times over 9 years. Which means they pretty clearly lost a lot in the playoffs too.


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Re: The elephant in the room...
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2017, 10:09:49 AM »