The Florida Panthers will miss the postseason for the 8th straight year. But for Pete DeBoer, it is the first time he will watch the playoffs from the couch in his career, and he is not too happy about it. The Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens ended the season with identical, 41-30-11 records. DeBoer came to Florida from the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers. And in the OHL, should team’s end the year as Montreal and Florida did, a play-in game is used to decide the final spot. DeBoer would like to see that in the NHL.
The Miami Herald’s George Richards talked to DeBoer about the tiebreaker. ”I like the playoff, and I came from a league where you had the one-game playoff as a rule,” said DeBoer, ”It’s appropriate after you play 82 games that if you are tied and have identical records, you should play once to decide the last spot. Use the mathematical formulas to decide who hosts. For me, that’s a lot easier to swallow in your exit meetings than losing on a statistic.”
Obviously, had the Panthers won the head-to-head tiebreaker, DeBoer might have been OK with the current system, but it is an interesting idea. Major League Baseball uses a 1-game, play-in game to break ties. Why not the NHL? It makes sense that if, after 82 games, two teams have identical records, they decide it on the ice. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they will have to deal with elimination via technicallity.