Adam Pyde

Lock In Your Bets: Is “Cup Crazy” The NHL’s Attempt at March Madness?

Lock In Your Bets: Is “Cup Crazy” The NHL’s Attempt at March Madness?

Coming out of the 2012-2013 NHL Lockout, the league implemented a variety of changes. Things like boring salary cap and revenue stuff, uniform regulations, and increased injury protocols. But the biggest change was that to the conference and division alignment, as well as the playoff system that would take effect in the 2013-14 season. That is, the move to a bracket system.

While there was never anything wrong with playoff hockey before, it was still pretty complicated with reseedings and whatnot. Ever try to run an office pool? Pretty well lasts 2 weeks of the first round and everyone is toast. But now things are different and lot like March Madness, but you get to start at the Sweet 16.

Teams stay in their division until the conference finals to build rivalries! Which is fair. The best rivalries in the league come from the playoffs: San Jose – Los Angeles, Chicago – Vancouver, Boston – Montreal, Philadelphia – Pittsburgh.

By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde

This change had primarily been overlooked. Mainly because it wasn’t yet totally relevant as it took over a year to really take effect.

But as Puck Daddy mentions it, you have to wonder if this was more of a monetary move versus a “rivalry” one.

The League now has a sponsored Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge on its home page, in which you pick the series winners, the number of games and, as a tie-breaker, the total goals scored in the Stanley Cup Final, just like you pick the total score of the NCAA men’s basketball final as a tie-breaker in March Madness – which, again, is no coincidence.

As PrintYourBrackets.com notes on its site, which allows fans to (spoiler) print their own brackets: “This allows you to now be able to run a bracket pick’em pool just like the March Madness Tournament!”

Very interesting. There had been talk for years that the NHL wanted to increase the ability for people to become invested on the sport via gambling. Considering that there was over $12 billion bet on March Madness this year, and that commissioner Gary Bettman used to be an NBA deputy commissioner then it all starts to make a bit more sense.

You might wonder why the NHL would want to increase the gambling on their sport, but its simple really. Hockey is really tough to gamble on. Too much league parity, running into a hot goalie, the shootout, weird bounces able to decide games, weird injuries and travel schedules. Its unreliable. If you’re going to gamble, you don’t want that much uncertainty. That’s bad for business. But this makes things a bit more reliable. You can see the path through the playoffs much easier.

I don’t care a lick about college basketball, but I fill out a March Madness bracket and check every day to see how my teams are doing because I threw 20 bucks on it at the office (unless you’re an officer of the law then in no way was I illegally gambling).

And that equals TV ratings, which equals advertising revenue, which means bigger revenue sharing, which means teams can pad their bottom lines and be more profitable. That all makes perfect sense.

Honestly, I’m not even outraged by it the way I normally would be. This is more fun too as the re-seeding of teams won’t send your predictions into the kerfufflest of kerfuffles.

Just another case of the NHL marketing its product extremely well.

Geez, what’s happening these days. Starting to like basketball ideas infiltrating my pure love of hockey.

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