Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What is the CHL thinking with it's new Playoff Format?

Talk about letting everybody in on a grand scale, the Central Hockey League recently announced the new playoff format for the 2010-2011 season when it gets underway in October. What they doing is just downright BS that you would probably see something you would see in the NCAA & Junior Hockey Ranks.

CHL Announces Playoff Format

2011 CHL Playoff Format

The format was announced that 16 of the league's 18 Teams will be making the playoffs next year with basically everyone excpt the last place teams of both conferences where they will have 2 Conferences of 9 teams.

The top 8 in both conferences will make the playoffs, usually this wouldn't be something I would a big deal with, considering that half of the Teams in the NHL & AHL make it every year, that means 89% of the teams will be making the playoffs. This will make the Regular Season almost useless for the most part. By doing this, the CHL is basically letting everyone who has basically played a game, the only way your going to miss the post-season is that if your so bad that your team won't challenge for a playoff spot which will basically be impossible.

The post season is spouse to be something that you earn to get to go. Regardless of your battling for the Conference/Titles, Home Ice, or one of the last teams that means the difference between playing for a league championship and ending your season way to soon.

If the CHL is looking for more money, this could backfire if they is a team like the Wichita Thunder who won just 9 games and acclimated 23 points last year, a whopping 40 points back of 6th Place Tulsa and 45 points back of the Missouri Mavericks who made the playoffs in their first year. This will provide little excitement and little drama as the league will say to the 7th & 8th place teams that will have little shots of advancing to be a punching bag for one of the championship contenders.

If I would have had an idea for the playoffs, the most teams that I would have advocated would have been 12 where 2/3 of the teams would make it. I would have the same format as the NFL with the #1 & #2 Seeds getting 1st Round Byes and the #3 VS. #6 & #4 VS. #5.

At least by doing it this way you would have 4 rounds, but you take out that punny little Best-of-3 Play In Round where since it was introduced in 2008 has turned out to be useless for the most part. With the exception of the Texas Brahmas in 2008, everybody else has gotten sweeped in the Conference Semifinals.

Here's a look at the Opening Round Teams in the Playoffs since 2008.


Play In: Odessa Jackalopes VS. Austin Ice Bats: Odessa Wins Series 2-1

Conf. SFS: Laredo Bucks VS. Odesssa Jackalopes: Laredo Wins Series 4-0

Play In: Texas Brahmas VS. Mississippi Riverkings: Texas Wins Series 2-1

Conf. SFS: Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs VS. Texas Brahmas: Texas Wins Series 4-0

Conf. Final: Colorado Eagles VS. Texas Brahmas: Colorado Wins Series 4-3


Play In: Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs VS. Rocky Mountain Rage: Bossier-Shreveport Wins Series 2-1

Conf. SFS: Colorado Eagles VS. Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs: Colorado Wins Series 4-0

Play In: RG Valley Killer Bees VS. Corpus Christi Icerays: RG Valley Wins Series 2-1

Conf. SFS: Texas Brahmas VS. RG Valley Killer Bees: Texas Wins Series 4-0


Play In: Mississippi Riverkings VS. Missouri Mavericks: Missouri Wins Series 2-1

Conf. SFS: Rapid City Rush VS. Missouri Mavericks: Rapid City Wins Series 4-0

Play In: Texas Brahmas VS. Corpus Christi Icerays: Texas Wins Series 2-0

Conf. SFS: Odessa Jackalopes VS. Texas Brahmas: Odessa Wins Series 4-2

So that shows you that the Play In Round was basically a shame with just one exception and i'm glad that part is gone, but having where almost everybody makes the playoffs is a shame for the Professional Ranks. I would expect this from the NCAA where nearly everybody makes it to the Conference Tournament expect for Hockey East where the bottom 2 regular season teams are eliminated.

As for the different Junior Ranks, they is a lot of major violators. The NAHL had it for the last couple of years where 4 of the 5 teams in all the divisions made the playoffs. In fact, last year in the West, all 4 teams played in the postseason basically because they was no one else in the League. The Kenai River Brown Bears had the worst record of the 16 playoff teams with just 30 points, all 3 5th place teams missed the playoffs all with better records (Alepna with 46, Wichita Falls with 42 & North Iowa with 36). Because these teams finished 5th, they all missed the post-season.

The Major Juniors have 16 teams make the playoffs. The worst violator is the QMJHL where only the bottom 2 teams with the worst records make it, regardless of how they fared in their division.

Perhaps the worst though are the Alberta & Saskatchwan Jr. A Leagues as only the bottom ranked teams in both divisions miss out on the playoffs. This is bad stuff that the Central Hockey League is getting into and it's something you would see in low level Juniors or the ACHA which is Group of College Club Hockey Teams that are not in the NCAA.

So if the CHL/IHL Merger is going to work to get higher level talent, send more players to the higher ranks and have the fan base want to come to these games. Making the playoffs tougher to make should have something that the league should have thought of.

Earlier this month, Greg Wyshynski who does the Puck Daddy Blog on Yahoo, did an article about the playoff format with some notable quotes from different reporters in the CHL Cities.

Ben Smith of the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette called the format "Totally ridiculous," while offering more of a Franke's explanation we excerpted at the top:

"The Though Process is the way the economy is going right now, it probably would make sense if all the teams coming into those last six weeks of the season had an opportunity to make the playoffs," he said. "There are so many other things people can do right now, and if teams are way out of it in late January, are they gonna continue to come to the games? No 2., we looked at it from the prospective that we believe the league is going to grow two or three years, and be more then 18 teams. So why not institute a 16 team format now, rather then switch it around every year?
So the regular season for the most part with the exception of the last part of the season to determine the playoff seeding will be a crap shoot and is such a joke. This is how Greg Rajan who covered the Corpus Christi Icerays for the Caller Times before the recent move to the Junior Ranks in the North American Hockey League. He mentions the format as "What A Joke" and followed up with a couple of specific reasons on why the format stinks.
What exactly is the purpose of the regular season, and extending it two games, to boot? So two cellar dwellers can be formally eliminated? The Regular Season has lost pretty much any importance it had. What's the reason for the casual fan can go to a game if it really has little to no meaning in the big picture? And what sports league allows 88.8% of it's teams to make the playoffs?
Contrary to what some people think, putting more teams in the playoffs won't help many teams financially. In my years of covering the CHL, I'd say only a handful of teams actually made money during the playoffs. Why? Because it's so hard to sell playoff tickets. You have to resell your entire season-ticket inventory and there's a little lead time to go out and sell groups or plan for games. Plus, many playoff games fall on less then attractive nights, such as mid-week days and Sunday's. Combine low box office numbers and the player salaries and it's not a pretty financial picture.
He also mentioned of the 4 Rounds, the first 2 will be a best-of-5 which could create issues from a competitive standpoint as well.
So this just proves that if the CHL wants to remain viable to hopefully grow from 18 teams in the next few years. They need to rethink their playoff structure by basically giving everybody a trophy for making the playoffs and to dilute the chase for the Ray Morin Presidents Cup Championship.

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