Saturday, May 9, 2009

Your thoughts on the new "Best of Five" format?

A big thanks to the AUS AD's for giving university hockey fans something talk about in this slow part of the off-season (unless you believe all the rumours about Tavares signing up for intersession at UNB). As you may have seen in the Gleaner or at our good friends at STUTOMMIES.COM this morning, the AUS has decided on having two "Best of Five" rounds to decide the AUS playoffs. The first round would remain a maximum of three games.

We'll solicit your thoughts in the comments section as always. Our take is that this is long overdue. Not solely because of any "revenue generating" that might occur for the teams that draw well. In fact, one could argue that teams like Moncton and UNB wouldn't really see another game on home ice as a result of this anyway since they've tended to finish series in 4 games or less in recent years, and 4 teams will still be on the outside of these extra games every year. Rather this makes sense because it does give more opportunity to showcase the best hockey in this part of Canada. If it was just about revenue for the "have teams", they'd have pushed to remove the first-round byes and let everyone in so the top seeds could play a few cannon-fodder teams in round 1.

Some might argue more games are needed to really decide the better team, and certainly this year's NHL playoffs would look considerably different if the first round were a best of 3 (ask the Devils and Rangers, or even the Penguins this week how they'd feel about it...) but we'll take the position that the rules are the same for everyone and no matter the sport, gold is awarded to the winners of the contests that matter, even if a best of five might produce different results one-third of the time.

Instead this about getting more exposure by showcasing the best of the best in front of a bigger audience, with more on the line. You won't find many clubs that didn't increase their home attendance during the playoffs this year.

(Team, ave. home reg. season home attendance, ave. playoff home attendance)

Acadia, 1618, 1696
Moncton 1059, 1398
SMU 594, 1844
STFX 993, 1300
UNB 2495, 2621
UPEI 962, 1193

As you can see, every team drew larger crowds as you'd expect. But look what happened in Halifax - they tripled attendance! There's certainly benefit to all AUS teams if AUS hockey becomes the talk of the town in the largest market in the conference.

Good for the AUS!


Anonymous said...

Long overdue for sure. No negatives at all which makes you wonder why it took so much time to get it done. It was always frustrating to hear the lament that university hockey was the "greatest kept secret'' because they wouldn't help themselves. Playoff hockey almost always generates bigger crowds (unless teams jack up the costs considerably) and certainly the interest level takes on a new intensity. It's a great move!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm for anything that means more AUS hockey, so it sounds good to me.

Squirrel H8TR said...

It also helps to share the bonus of playoff money. Both bye teams get one extra playoff date for sure and the revenue helps.

More hockey is never a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

I think this will be beneficial to UNB.

Assuming UNB finishes in the top 2 again next season it would be better for them to open their playoffs playing a best of 5 instead of a best of 3 just in case they start off cold from the extended break.

The attendance figures in Halifax certainly helped make the case.


David Kilfoil said...

I think extending the semi-finals to a best-of-five (the finals would/should have been best-of-five this upcoming season anyways) has several benefits.

As mentioned, the teams coming off the first round bye have a more forgiving series to get their act together if they're a little rusty.

It allows for the potential for more home games, which is better for the fans and the gate. Since UNB has a history of first round byes, they normally play less playoff games than the other teams.

Finally, it REALLY puts a focus on the regular season standings, as teams will have even more incentive to avoid the stress of the short first round and an early exit by trying to get a bye.

David Kilfoil said...

I forgot to add that even more telling in the playoff attendance stats is the effect of folks not going to the UNB-Acadia series, for whatever reason. Both games against SMU were sell-outs or near sell-outs.