The EIHL have announced its plans for its tenth playoff weekend. This year it seems the league have listened to fans and made some changes but they could have done better.
In a change to the seedings no longer will the semi final matches ups to predetermined. Following last year’s confusion as seventh placed Hull qualified for the semi final only to play the third seed instead of the top seed, the semi final ties will be decided on a teams original seeding. In other words the NHL system where by the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed.
Also as seeds are decided on the final league finishing place there will be no conference play offs although the winners of the conferences will be seeded 1 and 2. But in a change to previous statements it will be the top 8 in the league that will qualify for the playoffs not the top 4 in each conference.
It will be a popular move with the fans that relate the playoffs in hockey with the NHL format and is one that should have happened a long time ago. However by basing the qualification on the league and not the playoffs the league does risk devaluing the conference system, as unless you win the conference there is no interest in it. In addition the teams of the Erhardt Conference finished last season in the top 5 places in the league. All of those teams qualified for the playoffs well before the end of the season leaving a mass of games that were a little meaningless.
The conference structure had provided the EIHL with the opportunity to make many more games even more meaningful by making the playoff qualification based on the conferences. It is a missed opportunity by the EIHL that will leave many fans wondering exactly what conference structure is for.
Tickets for the playoff weekend, 6th and 7th April, at the NIC, Nottingham will be available before Christmas through the arena and all EIHL teams.