Hockey East coaches have informed their directors of athletics they would like to return to the 11-team playoff format next season.
The coaches, who met recently during the annual American Hockey Coaches Association in Naples, Fla., want to include all league teams and scrap the eight-team format used this season.
Hockey East had included all teams in the playoffs for five seasons before the ADs changed it.
University of Maine head coach Red Gendron said the vote among the coaches to include all 11 teams was nearly unanimous.
“Our principal rationale was the unbalanced schedule,” said Gendron, a Berlin, N.H., native.
Hockey East teams play 24 league games. They play six teams twice and four teams three times.
The ADs will vote on the playoff format at their meeting next month.
Under the 11-team format, the top five teams earned first-round byes and the bottom six played a best-of-three first round series. The three survivors advanced to a best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Last season, the postseason began with the quarterfinals.
Hockey East and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association were the only two conferences among the six in Division I that didn’t include all of their teams in the playoffs. In the 10-team WCHA, eight of 10 teams qualified.
Two leagues, the National College Hockey Conference and the Big Ten, have eight and seven teams, respectively.
Following the Hockey East quarterfinals, the two semifinal games and the championship game were held the following weekend at TD Garden in Boston.
In the unbalanced Hockey East schedule last season, last-place Merrimack College played three games apiece against league regular-season champion Massachusetts, co-second-place teams Northeastern and Providence, and Boston University, which wound up fifth.
UMaine, which finished sixth, played three games against UMass, Boston University, Boston College (seventh) and New Hampshire (eighth). UNH, besides playing three against UMaine, faced Vermont (10th), UMass Lowell (fourth) and Northeastern three times.
“It’s random who you play three times but certain teams can gain an advantage and other teams can be at a disadvantage,” Gendron said. “When you come right down to it, that can lead to certain teams having a much better chance to make the playoffs because of who they played.”
He said there is no way to predict which teams might be good in a given year and that a team facing a more difficult league schedule could finish behind another that had an easier path — and fail to make the playoffs.
The other issue expressed by the coaches is the student-athlete experience.
“You want to make policies in the best interest of the student-athlete,” he said.
Players want to be involved in playoff games, Gendron said.
“It gives teams a chance to redeem themselves (if they had a poor regular season),” he said.