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Hockey East Will Have a New Playoff Format This Season

The college hockey offseason is typically uneventful, save for coaching changes or players leaving school early to chase NHL dreams.

Recently, it was announced that Hockey East was switching its playoff format, going from an 11-team tournament to the old format of eight teams.

The format was switched for the 2013-14 season, when Notre Dame joined the league, and saw the top five teams earn byes. In the two years the league had 12 squads, after Connecticut came on board, the top four regular-season finishers bypassed the opening round.

To say that this is a great change is a huge understatement. The change was voted on by the league's athletic administrators.

I've never been a big fan of every team making the postseason. While some would argue that hockey is somewhat different and a goaltender could catch fire, thrusting a lower-seeded team further than expectations had it going, it just buys into this "everyone gets a trophy" concept that is killing sports. Anybody remember the high school basketball "open tournament" at the start of the 21st century? That was a concept that should've never seen the light of gyms from Fort Kent to Kittery.

The last thing we need to see is teams act like the Indianapolis Colts and hang up participation-type banners.

The change in the Hockey East playoff format puts more of an emphasis on getting wins in the regular season, as opposed to playing for ties if a game goes into overtime.

It also means you only have to win four games to become league champions. It also puts a huge emphasis on earning a top-four finish, and ensuring that your best-of-three quarterfinal series is in your building.

We saw in March how raucous Alfond Arena gets when playoff hockey comes to town.

If you finish below eighth place, you don't deserve to have your season continue. It's as simple as that. If the old format would've existed in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Maine would've gone home at the end of the regular season.

For what it's worth, I don't see Maine finishing on the outside looking in next year, unless hell freezes over.

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