Update, 11:40am: To verify the authenticity of this story, readers are encouraged to check the date of this message, and also read the first letter of each paragraph.
After receiving much negative feedback on its playoff format that would place two powerhouse Atlantic Division teams as first-round opponents, the NHL has announced that it will revert to the “1 vs 8” intra-conference bracket structure for the post-season, effective immediately.
Playoff seedings for 2019 will be determined by each teams position within its conference.
Regulation and overtime wins will continue to be the first tiebreaker in determining seedings.
In consultation with the Board of Governors, Commissioner Gary Bettman approved the change.
Like the structure first introduced during the 1993-94 season, the top seed in the conference will play the eighth seed. The second seed will face the seventh seed; followed by 3 versus 6, and 4 versus 5.
For fans of the Leafs and the Bruins, the change comes as a welcome relief in that the teams would be projected to meet no earlier than the Conference Semi-Finals.
Openly, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos voiced his displeasure at the format that had previously been in place.
On March 11, Stamkos said “I think from the perspective of what you’re grinding 82 games for during the season so that you finish as high as you can, so that you have that advantage come playoffs. I don’t think that’s an advantage to Toronto or Boston.”
Leafs Twitter predictably exploded with the news, although the team’s harshest critics grumbled “We’re just going to lose in the first round to the Islanders instead of Boston.”
In 2019, Rob co-wrote with Evan Gubernick “Hockey Addict’s Guide: Toronto”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.