NHL Scraps Playoffs for Best-of-29 US-Canada Series

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced today that the league plans to cancel the remainder of its postseason tournament and instead play a Best-of-29 series between Team Canada and Team USA.
"The ratings for the opening night of the playoffs were not what we hoped they would be," said Bettman. "We want to get back to the level of excitement we saw for hockey for the USA-Canada gold medal game at the Olympics. And recreating that game is the only way to do it."
The first game of the series is scheduled for Sunday, giving the national teams time to re-form and hold a few practices.
"Having good, efficient practices will be incredibly important," said U.S. head coach Ron Wilson, who thought his season was over with the end of the Toronto Maple Leafs' regular season. "If you drop the first six or seven games of this series, it will be a pretty big hold to dig yourself out of."
With the 29-game format, the series could wrap up in mid-June, or as early as the first week of May. Bettman, of course, hopes the series will go a full 29 games for ratings.
"Game 7 in the NHL playoffs is as exciting as it gets," he said. "Now imagine the excitement of a winner-take-all Game 29. I don't have a calculator on me, but it would be about 4.1 or so times more exciting!"
While the commissioner is excited about the plan, many NHL fans are not.
"I love the NHL playoffs the way they are," said Ottawa Senators fan Jeff Donnelly. "Plus, I was used to hating Sidney Crosby again. It's going to take me a little bit to get back to rooting for him. It feels unnatural, fellow Canadian or not."
"It's a terrible idea," said Blackhawks fan Mike Hartman. "Because I heard Gary Bettman thought of it. If he thought of it, it therefore must be terrible."
According to a league source, Bettman wanted to do more than scrap the playoffs.
"He said because the Winter Classic is so popular, we should play all of the U.S.-Canada games outdoors," says the source. "We told him that's not really feasible in April, May and June. It took him a while to realize why, but eventually we broke through."