Could The Crossover Work?

An article in the Windsor star states that the NHL would be better suited if a cross-over effect took place in the playoffs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind it either. The article says:

“They did it again Saturday. The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings clashed once more in what remains the league’s most hotly-contested rivalry, supplying another memorable meeting which left fans on the edge of their seats and viewers glued to their television sets.

Whenever these teams square off, the hockey world watches and with good reason.

Last spring, for the fifth time since 1996, the Wings and Avs battled in the midst of the Stanley Cup playdowns. It was the most exciting hockey played during the entire tournament.

Which is a shame, really.

A shame that such a performance will never be witnessed on the biggest stage of all, in the Stanley Cup final.

“It would be a great series, no doubt about that,” Colorado captain Joe Sakic said.

In the current NHL, the West is best and the East is least. The weekend action at Joe Louis Arena only served to hammer home that point.

One night after Saturday’s battle with the Avs, the Wings, the top-ranked squad in the NHL’s Western Conference, met Ottawa, the East’s No. 1 seed and smacked the Senators all over the ice.

Time for change It’s long past time that the league addressed this issue, before we’re forced to endure another feeble final like last spring’s Detroit-Carolina debacle.

Why not play host to a final which would garner ratings, instead of indifference?

It’s not like it hasn’t been done before.

When the National Hockey League doubled in size from six to 12 teams back in 1967, NHL governors decided to situate the new teams in the West Division and have that division winner face off in the Stanley Cup final with one of the established clubs, all grouped together in the East Division.

After the Eastern winners swept the West Division champion St. Louis Blues three years in succession, it was obvious the NHL had managed to turn its marquee event into an anti-climax.

Change was required to put the bang back in the Cup final.

From 1971-74, teams crossed over at the semifinal stage, with the top seed in the West meeting the second seed in the East and vice-versa.

It was a good idea at that time and an idea that’s time has come again.

“We’ve talked about things like that,” Detroit coach Dave Lewis acknowledged.

“There should be crossovers at some point.”

That point would be now. And forever.

Geography should have no bearing on playoff formats. The pursuit of pitting the most qualified teams against each other must be the overriding emphasis at all times.

Missed matchups It’s equally sad that hockey never witnessed an Oilers-Flames final in the 1980s.

“That’s what the Stanley Cup stands for, the two best teams playing for the trophy,” Lewis said. “It would be exciting (to see a Detroit-Colorado final), but there’s not much we can do.

“It’s up to the league.”

During the four springs of crossover semifinals, only one resulted in both finalists emerging from the same side, when Boston defeated the New York Rangers in 1971-72. Coincidentally, those teams finished 1-2 in the NHL during regular-season play that season.

A crossover system doesn’t preclude an East-West final, but it virtually guarantees that two outstanding teams will meet for all the marbles.

At some point this spring, the Avs and Wings will likely have at it again.

“I’m sure we will,” Sakic said. “It’s inevitable, isn’t it?”

Inevitable and unfortunate that the showdown will come so early in the proceedings.

The main event shouldn’t be on the undercard.”

What do you think?