The Monday After – How to (slightly) prolong the play-offs

Nottingham is gearing up for another play-off invasion in April (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)

HOW TO (SLIGHTLY) PROLONG THE PLAY-OFFS

We’re a month away from the end of the regular season and play-off fever is starting to build slowly and soon it’ll be all everyone talks about – but I’ve come up with a way to prolong it.

We all enjoy the excitement of the play-offs and the fact our little country does it a little differently compared to pretty much most places in the world.

We would all love the seven game series that captivates us as an audience, but the logistics of certain being able to have availability of their rinks and arenas and the cost that comes with it makes it a tough one to try and pull off.

But I’ve found a way where we could possibly keep things interesting and going just a little longer.

As it stands, one weekend is the final regular season games, the next weekend is the quarter finals then the finals a week later.  Then we’re off into the dark abyss of the off-season, apart from some national team action.

It can seem sudden in how it all finishes and just when we’re getting into enjoying the play-offs, it’s all over and we’re all packed up and heading home from Nottingham.

But I was looking at something else ice hockey related last week and the standings for another league and I saw that some countries have a preliminary play-off round.  In this case, the top six teams qualifying for the post-season, but the next four all having to play off before they reach the, er, play-offs.

That would mean at least ten teams all going in with something to play for in the post season.  And the top six would get a weekend off to prepare for their campaigns while the other four meet to decide the final two quarter final spots.

So, using that in the context of this season and how things currently stand, you have Belfast down to Sheffield in sixth place putting their feet up for a week.

Fife, in seventh, would play Dundee (10th), while Manchester and Coventry would go head-to-head and the winner of those two would join the other six to complete the last eight line-up.

It gives us an extra week as we’d played those games in the week after the end of the regular season and while adding games might seem unfair to the teams from seventh to tenth, it gives the incentive for the two sides outside the top eight to sneak their way in.

It’s a fair argument to say that if a team isn’t good enough to be in the top eight at the end of the regular season then they shouldn’t be given another way in, but what would be wrong with making it as interesting as possible?  After all, if it’s good enough in certain other European countries, then why not here?

It would give more teams something to aim for in the final weeks of the season and as we all know, the play-offs is the minimum target for every player and coach at the beginning of the campaign.

So there we go, we get an extra week to enjoy the post-season.  Some teams get extra two games, others get a week off before the final showdowns begin and the fans get more drama.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Murrayfield Racers are SNL champions in their first year (PHOTO: Ian Coyle)

MURRAYFIELD RACERS REBORN AND TRIUMPHANT

For any team to win a league at their first attempt is a wonderful achievement so you have to congratulate Murrayfield Racers on winning the SNL in their first go after coming back last year.

I know that won’t go down well with some people, especially those of an Edinburgh Capitals persuasion, given how the Racers’ rebirth came about at the expense of the Caps.

I admit it’s something I wasn’t comfortable with from the outside looking in, but I see there are plenty of people that have made the transition over in supporting Edinburgh ice hockey irrespective of the logo on the front.

The bottom line they have a winning team and the job Tony Hand and everyone involved has done is a good thing as they re-establish themselves into the UK hockey culture.

They’ve set a standard they probably weren’t expecting and at first phases go, no matter what the future holds for them, it’s a great one to accomplish.

Dave Simms and the rest of the walkers have almost reached their £10k target at the time of writing (PHOTO: Martin Burnham)

SIMMSEY AND FRIENDS DO THEMSELVES PROUD

They said it was their greatest challenge yet and they weren’t kidding as Dave Simms, Dean Woolley, Neil Edwards, Eliott Hall, Jamie Tunstall and Mark Thomas undertook a gruelling 50-mile walk in aid of the Prevent Breast Cancer charity.

But each and every one of them, with their bodies – and their feet – in bits can be so proud of what they’ve done again in walking from Sheffield to Altrincham.

At the time of writing, they were £500 away from their target so the tally is creeping up so let’s hope they can get there very soon.

Well done to them all and everyone involved.  Walking a great distance, from my own experience, is a tough thing to do, but the experience is a rewarding one and one those will feel again for the cause they’re doing it for.  Great job, fellas!

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