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Belleville Bulls’ series-clinching win averts uncomfortable scheduling situation for OHL

Oilers pick Daniil Zharkov had 2 points in Belleville's win Monday (Claus Andersen, Getty Images)

It doesn't take a personal injury attorney to know it's not about what happened, it's about the potential damage. On top of the grumbling that the Ontario Hockey League's adoption of a 2-2-1-1-1 format for all playoff series led to lost revenue for lower-seeded teams who didn't get a coveted weekend home date, it could have created a borderline sadistic schedule for the Mississauga Steelheads.

Chalk this up to the unintended consequences of having the new format while also having the two-year-old rule not to have playoff games conflict on the same day as the OHL priority selection draft, which takes place Saturday. If Mississauga had won Monday, then gone on win Game 7 on Tuesday night, it would have had to pick right up to open the second round against Barrie on Wednesday. Another series that didn't go the distance also had Games 6 and 7 scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in different arenas.

It's one thing for teams to play 3 games in 2½ days during the regular season. The playoffs, which are the ultimate meritocracy, should be more equitable. Forcing a team to play three pressure games in as many days and as in many rinks is too much to age of 16-to 20-year-old players. It would amount to sending a team into the fray with its tired legs tied.

There's no bad guy; it's just a situation that should have been foreseen. Few expected Mississauga would stretch Belleville to six games before losing 3-1 (with an empty-netter) in Monday's finale. The Brampton Battalion and Sudbury Wolves could have faced a similar timetable is if they had played a full seven games and Mississauga or sixth-seeded Niagara had also advanced, putting the winner in a series against Barrie.

Don't say that never could have happened. The league cannot count on every first-round series being over in five games, max.

Thursday and Saturday are typically the Colts' preferred home dates. That was struck due to the draft-day blackout and building availability at the Barrie Molson Centre.

Fortunately for the OHL, the situation did not come to pass. It might point out the need to create some wiggle room regarding the 2-2-1-1-1 format and no games on draft day. There might be better luck tweaking the former, since you could hear the screaming about special treatment if one team had that precious Saturday night game.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to

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