Major League Lacrosse has announced a new playoff format, and some key dates for next season. For the MLL, it means home playoff games for the top seeds, an extended playoff schedule, and a stand alone championship game. Below, I get into the details of the new moves, and then look at how this could impact players who compete in the MLL and NLL.
Similar to this past season, four teams will make the playoffs. But instead of a Championship Weekend, the semis and finals will be held separately, a week apart. The #1 and #2 seeds will then host their own semifinal games, at their home locations on August 16th. The Finals will be played a TBD location on August 23rd. This move could present some facilities scheduling problems for teams, as they won’t know if they are hosting a game until later in the season, but it also gives the franchises more incentive to be a #1 or #2 seed, and I like increased competition! Overall, I like this move, even if I think the Championship Weekend format is pretty unique and cool.
The season starts on April 26th (one day before it did in 2013), ends on August 9th, and the draft will be held on January 10th in Philadelphia in conjunction with the US Lacrosse Convention. Details are still being worked out for the 2014 All-Star Game, and the location of the finals.
What makes all this even more interesting is that a week ago, we learned that the NLL may be extending their season further into the Spring with a longer season (18 games from 16) and a longer series of playoff games (between fewer teams), and this created cause for concern for players who competed in both leagues. At the very least it caused concern for many fans. A schedule that has the league running until the end of May conflicts with the MLL’s start date at the end of April even more than the NLL’s current schedule, which had the title game on May 11th in 2013.
It doesn’t seem like a make or break deal, as NLL players on title game teams would still only miss a maximum of five or six games, but I would really love to see the NLL push their schedule even earlier. With so little lacrosse around during the fall and early winter, a November start date seems better overall, and it would also allow guys to play in both professional leagues in a more full-time manner. The NLL has pushed their schedule up a bit, now that they intend to start at the end of December, but it’s just not enough in my opinion.
The NLL schedule is far from set, or a done deal, so it’s not time to freak out yet. Before any of that can go down, the league and players need to sign a collective bargaining agreement.