When Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse/MILL/NLL started in 1987 we had four teams and all made the playoffs. In 1988 we still had four teams and only three made it with the first place team getting a bye to the championship. In 89-90 same format but we had six teams in the league. As the league grew the playoff format was tinkered with over and over.
In 1998 they went to the best of three championship. This was great except the second game was on a Tuesday night in Baltimore. (Wings swept series). In my opinion this series would have been better with game one in Baltimore and games two and three in Philadelphia. This was the only year the league went to a best of three format for the title.
From 1999-2001 we went from seven to nine teams with four making the post season. 2002-2005 we increased as much as thirteen teams with six getting t the post season (division winners first round bye). Then starting in 2006, a total of eight teams would make the post season each year through 2013. Again the league reached a high of thirteen teams and now currently sits at nine teams. The last two seasons the league had a crossover rule, if the last place team (5th in the west) had a better record then the fourth place team in the east, they would get the post season berth. This didn’t happen in 2012, but it happened in 2013 as the Minnesota Swarm became the fourth seed in the east, crossing over from the west.
Now the league has proposed a new format (has to be approved by the PLPA). The format proposed is the following.
6 teams get playoff berths with each division winner getting a bye
The 2-3 seeds in each division will play a single elimination game.
Winner then plays the division winner in a two game playoff.
I know what you thinking. How can you play a two game series and have a winner if each team wins a game? The league has stated there will be a 10 minute game following game two should the teams each win a game. The Championship will be the same way.
Again, it needs to be approved. No approval and we go back to last year’s format.
My question is WHY?! Why do it this way? Why not best of 3 in those final two rounds? You did a best of 3 in 1998 (title game). It shouldn’t be a problem, as you have teams playing on back to back nights/days during regular season.
Example Wings are home on Jan 18 versus Minnesota at Noon. Then the next day at 3pm they are in Minnesota. Two games in 24 hours with travel. So why not during post season? I for one am not in favor of the format proposed. Sure you get a playoff game if you advance to division/championship final, but for it to be decided in an extra 10 minute game, that’s absurd. I don’t even want to think about what type of action you would see in those 10 minutes, players exhausted, possibly running out of gas from battling back if behind, etc. Fans want to see good lacrosse action.
Another question is this. If you do this two game format, and a player gets a minor or major penalty, or even a game misconduct does the time carry over to the 10 minutes? Or is the 10 minutes treated like another game? I’m sure this will be one of the questions asked when the proposal is discussed.
You play 18 regular season games advance to division/championship final and its decided on a 10 minute period? Let the players rest for 24 hours and battle a full 60 minute game for the title
In the MLL starting in 2014 we will not have a Championship Weekend like we have had in the past. 4 Teams, 3 Games, 2 Days, 1 Champion. Instead it will be the top two seeds will host the semi-final games. Lets use this year as an example. We would have had Chesapeake and Denver hosting the semi-finals, and the winners coming to PPLPark a week later for one game. League is looking at it money wise as in this case Chesapeake and Denver really pack them in for home games. But I have to wonder if this would do more harm then good.
With the Championship game being played the following weekend, maybe the league would put more fan experiences together? Maybe put a package together for fans to watch practice, meet the players, make it a fan media day. Yes you can meet them after games etc, but this package would give young fans more of a chance to inter-act with their favorite players. If not, then I think the league be better off doing the playoff format of top four teams with higher seed hosting in semi-final and finals.
Regardless of the outcome in the NLL proposed format, and the MLL new playoff format, one thing is for sure….
MORE LAX IN 2014!!!