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48 Games - Crazy Ideas for Structuring a Shortened Season

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Nothing is sacred.

Oh, right. Hockey! I forgot.
Oh, right. Hockey! I forgot.
Dilip Vishwanat

So let's say we might get an NHL season.

It's crazy, I know. But just go with me.

If we DO get a season, it will need to be short - probably something like 48 games. Hockey folks are speculating about what this shortened season would look like, but I feel that no one is really embracing the opportunity for craziness offered by this mini-season. Everything's all screwed-up already anyways, why not take a chance and try something completely ridiculous?

Here are a few different ways you could structure a shortened NHL season, including one realistic proposal and three that will only happen if the league gets taken over by a madman with positively enormous balls.

#1: The Realistic Proposal

The details: This is the one that might actually happen. No games vs. the other conference, roughly half of the games played in-division.

Pros: Simple, logical, great for Battle of California, helps the travel situation for the California teams, hurts the Dallas Stars for the same reason.

Cons: No games against the East means we don't get to see our California teams play against some of the best players in the game. Also the West is better than the East from top to bottom so this set-up is probably unfair; the Sharks will miss playing the Islanders and the Southeast division.

#2: The Championship Belt

The details: The Kings start the season with the Stanley Cup Champions Belt, but must defend their title against the Devils (the number-one contenders) over a three-game playoff series. The rest of the league faces off in their own three-game playoff series, based on the final NHL standings last year, to determine contender status. Teams move up or down the rankings depending on their victories. Whichever team ends the season with the championship is officially awarded the Stanley Cup.

Pros: If it's cool enough for the WWE, it's cool enough for hockey. Plus there could be a big ridiculous belt that we make the team captain of the defending champs wear!

Cons: Probably completely unfeasible for a billion reasons. The inability to schedule any games more than a week or so in advance would make buying tickets tough.

#3 Constant Playoffs

The details: The entire season consists of one playoff series after another, organized according to last year's final NHL standings. Eliminated teams play a bunch of pointless exhibition games against other eliminated teams.

To get to an even 14 playoff teams in each conference, Edmonton would play Columbus and Montreal would play the Islanders in a pre-season qualifying match. The losing two teams just play each other all damn season long as punishment for sucking.

Pros: Playoff OT rules and intensity as far as the eye can see. The potential to watch Montreal have to play Columbus 48 times.

Cons: Again, probably not feasible. I said these ideas were crazy, didn't I?

#4 Good League/Bad League

The details: The sixteen teams that made the playoffs last year have their own mini-league and only play each other. The top four teams in each conference at the end of the year make the mini-playoffs. The teams that didn't make the playoffs have their own separate-but-unequal league, and at the end of the year they don't get to have playoffs because you shouldn't reward losers.

Pros: Nothing but high-quality hockey all season long in the good league. No easy points. No Montreal, Dallas, or Anaheim touching the good teams and getting them all gross.

Cons: It might make loser fans of shit teams sad, and our Ducks blogger Jer might cry.

Wait, my mistake - that should be another "Pro."