While it may merely be a matter of the current state of the league, there's no doubt that as it stands today the divisions in the National Hockey League are drastically unbalanced.
As a result some have started to make noise about a potential changes being made to the NHL's current playoff format and perhaps no one has made more noise than ESPN insider Pierre LeBrun did on Thursday.
Well, I do. As I see it, the problem with today's format is that it can't decide what it wants to be. A true divisional playoff setup would mean no wild cards. A true conference playoff, like the NHL had before this format, would mean no divisional playoff. Right now it's in between.
Some background: When the NHL re-aligned back in 2012, and looked at the playoff format at the same time, its original proposal to the NHLPA featured four conferences, with four teams from each conference making the playoffs in each group. The NHLPA balked because it felt that the two conferences that only had seven teams apiece would have an unfair competitive advantage over the teams and players in the two conferences with eight teams apiece. So the compromise was coming up with the wild-card setup that's in play today.
LeBrun believes that the solution lies in going back to one system or the other, and getting rid of the hybrid system the league is currently operating under. Some fans have been clamoring for a return to the old-school divisional playoffs of the 80s. and there's no doubt that tremendous rivalries of that era could be rekindled should the NHL revert back.
The other option would be to return to the conference playoff format with no wild card slots available. This would result in the first place team in the conference playing the 8th place team, the format that most modern fans are likely to be familiar with.
It's honestly a tough problem, one with no obvious solution, but if enough people like LeBrun keep making noise we may soon see some changes.