The playoff expansion debate

Updated: February 1, 2012, 1:59 PM ET
By Craig Custance

When the NHLPA rejected the NHL's realignment plan, two reasons were discussed the most. One, there was some concern about the potential for more travel. But the bigger issue was a perceived competitive disadvantage.

The proposed realignment had four conferences, two with eight teams and two with seven. So the players debated solutions to even the playing field.

"So then you think, 'All right, we do only have 30 teams, we don't have 32. we don't have 28 -- so how do we do that?'" NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said. "There are a number of ideas that got thrown around. There were wild-card ideas, there were play-in ideas that was thrown around."

But many of the ideas centered around expanding the playoffs. And it's easy to see the appeal from a players' point of view. The salary-cap number is based off of league revenues, so if the playoffs are expanded, revenues go up. So does the cap. So do salaries.

The NHL general managers were going to hash out the playoff format under realignment, but they weren't about to expand the playoffs. It was more to determine if there was going to remain an East and West or whether there would be reseeding after two rounds. Their conversation was different than the players' debate.

"It was generalized discussion about what might be possible rather than anybody trying to reach a conclusion on it," Fehr explained. "The NHL was not in position at this stage to have those discussions."

So now, realignment is on hold until 2013. But what about playoff expansion? Is it a good idea?