"Should the NHL increase the number of teams that qualify for the playoffs from 16 to 20?"
That was the question posed to 30 NHL players as the league appears determined to increase the number of participating playoff teams in the near future, but don't expect players to take a victory lap if the announcement comes.
An overwhelming 24 (80 percent) of the players polled were not in favor of the increase, saying the number of teams should remain at 16. Six players (20 percent) said it should be expanded to 20.
Anaheim's Todd Marchant, though, would welcome additional teams.
"It grows the popularity of the game," Marchant said. "Any team that has ever been in the playoffs, you look at the excitement it garners league-wide and in the city of the teams that are playing.
"Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were an NFL wild-card team and ended up winning the Super Bowl. Who's to say the No. 9 or No. 10 [conference] seed doesn't go all the way to the Stanley Cup finals?"
Here are the results from each team. Some players asked to remain anonymous.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Yes: "It grows the popularity of the game. Any team that has ever been in the playoffs, you look at the excitement it garners league-wide and in the city of the teams that are playing. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were a wild-card team, ended up winning the Super Bowl. Who's to say that one of those No. 9 or No. 10 [conference] seeds doesn't go all the way to the Stanley Cup finals? I think it would be great for our sport. Look at the playoff races now. Look at how tight they are. There are only three or four points separating (teams) out of the playoffs from fifth in the conference. I think it would increase the popularity of the game. I think there's no question. The parity in the game today is as high as it's ever been." -- Todd Marchant
No: "Absolutely not." -- Anonymous
No: "It's a long enough season already. You would have to put an extra round in the playoffs and probably have to make it best of five. That's not hockey. Playoffs should best of seven, always. More teams would make money by getting in the playoffs, but you would have to make the season shorter." -- J.P. Dumont
No: "The playoffs are long enough as it is. The playoffs should be hard to make, not easy, and be a crapshoot once you get there. It should be a huge accomplishment to make the playoffs, so don't taint it." -- Andrew Ference
No: "I don't think so. I think it's good the way it is." -- Anonymous
No: "I just think that's too much time to be waiting around for the playoffs to start if you're one of the top six teams in your conference. I don't know, it would just be strange to be watching other teams play." -- Trevor Daley
Detroit Red Wings
No: "Twenty teams, that's a long playoffs; 16 is good, makes you play hard from the beginning of the season to make it in. Five rounds in the playoffs, even if it's two out of three [in the preliminary round] is too long." -- Manny Legace
No: "It might be a little too early to start doing that. If it's 20 teams, it might be too easy for some teams to make it. There should be that competition. And this time of the year, it makes it fun for fans to follow their team and watch them make a playoff push. It's good how it is. More teams would get in the playoffs, but the electricity might not be there. You want to see teams make a push and make moves or not make moves. It's good how it is now." -- Mike Van Ryn
No: "Teams 15 and 16 obviously are the least skilled, and it gets worse from there. Those teams won't upset nobody." -- Chris Higgins
No: "I think the season goes long enough. Everybody wants to be in the playoffs, but we're already playing into June. I don't think anyone wants to stretch it to the end of June." -- Dan Hamhuis
New Jersey Devils
No: "I don't think they should change from 16 to 20. Why change, just so more teams can get in? It's been 16 for so long. My suggestion would be to make the first round a best of five." -- Sergei Brylin
No: "There are just over half [of all] teams in the playoffs now. You don't want to have three-quarters of the teams in the playoffs." -- Zdeno Chara
Yes: "20 would be good. It could be like football, with some wild cards. The first round could be best of five. Give more people a chance to get in. I think the cities would be excited." -- Brian Savage
Yes: "I can see the arguments for both sides. You want the regular season to mean something, but the teams that are going to miss out by a shootout loss here or there feel like their cheated. I say yeah, let's go to 20 teams. If you finish 11th in your conference, you have no beef no matter what your record is." -- Mike Johnson
No -- Anonymous
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