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Seed system rewards division champs over top teams

By Dan Gelston

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 12:35 p.m. MDT

Orpik has the right idea — seed teams 1-8 based on points. Based on Wednesday's standings, the Penguins would open against Ottawa, and the Flyers would start at home against the Panthers.

"I'm sure the NHL is sitting there saying, 'You know what, it makes for good TV, because those games are meaningful games coming right down to the end," Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr said.

Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said he's never been part of a discussion among front office personnel about altering the current system. Howson liked the status quo.

"I think it should be the way it is," he said "There has to be a reward for winning the division. I believe it's appropriate."

Howson's not alone. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the current system is fair — even if it doesn't help out the Red Wings this season.

"If you're going to have divisions, you have to reward the division winners with something and right now that's a top-three seed," Holland said. "We all play different schedules. Some might have five good teams in their division, some three. But at the end of the day, there's so much parity in the league.

"In the playoffs, you're still going to have to win on the road if you're going to go anywhere."

With realignment and a new labor deal looming in the NHL, the system could hit the scrap heap within two years.

"I think that it could fix it," Penguins forward Steve Sullivan said. "I think they're going to tweak the system so there's going to be less divisions. It also gives them an opportunity to look at it and make it more fair for everybody."

Fair. That's all any fan, player or executive should want. Except for the two teams holding that position, who wants sixth place as a coveted seed?

Sure, from wild cards to mid-majors, no system in sports is perfect.

But the NHL's is as imperfect as any around.

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AP Sports Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, Will Graves in Pittsburgh, Larry Lage in Detroit and Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this story.

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