Eric Ritter, Deltona, Fla.
Looking at this year’s current standings, there’s no question of which conference has been more dominant.
After 265 games against the East, Western Conference teams have compiled a record of 152-85-28. The East against the West holds a record of 113-117-35. Western teams have earned a total of 1,291 points overall while Eastern teams have earned just 1,229.
The NHL plays a balanced schedule, so the top eight making the playoffs from each conference is fair. Teams play 64 games of their 82-game schedule against teams within their conference, so get the job done against those teams and you should be in the playoffs no problem. But in a case where one conference is so much more difficult to play against then the other, a new rule should be considered.
A stipulation should be put in place that reads: Should the team finishing in ninth place in either conference has five or more points than the team finishing eighth in the opposite conference, then that team shall be relegated to the opposite conference as the eighth seed and compete in that conference’s playoffs.
Most fans who are extreme traditionalists would likely hate the rule, but it wouldn’t come into play often. In fact, if you apply the rule to the past 15 NHL seasons, from 1993-94 until last year, only two times (‘96 and ‘02) would the rule have been exercised.
The rule could definitely be considered a bit of a stretch, but if one conference continues to dominate year in year out, it wouldn’t hurt to consider it. If anything, it’s surprising that the Western Conference, whose teams have much more travel distance, is the better conference. You’d think the Eastern Conference with all their teams on the east coast would be better rested. But the West’s record is just a testament to the higher overall talent of their teams.