NHL Teams

Can San Jose Sharks Be Relegated? NHL Relegation Rules

By Kapil Sapkota / 21 November 2023 08:59 AM

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San Jose Sharks will not be relegated despite their worst performance in the league. The NHL doesn't follow a promotion and relegation system.

The rumors of the Sharks relegation began after the NHL fans witnessed the pathetic performance of the franchise this season.

The team has a miserable 3-13-1 record, standing last in the Pacific Division. Moreover, it is the league-wide worst record. The Edmonton Oilers from the same Division have a 5-10-1 record.

San Jose's bad luck started with its season opener match, having a 4-1 loss against the Vegas Golden Knights. The team saw a loss in 11 games until it won a match 2-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers on November 7.

Luckily, the team defeated the Edmonton Oilers (3-2) at SAP Center two days after its first victory.

A 6-0 loss over the Tampa Bay Lightning was the worst one until the team had an even worse 10-1 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on November 2 including the solo 5 points from Quinn Hughes.

San Jose was again defeated in its next game on November 4th versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, with a shameful 10-2 score. The Sharks' former defenseman Erik Karlsson created two assists for the Penguins.

What Is Relegation In Hockey?

Relegation in hockey is a process where teams are moved down according to their performance playing against teams from different divisions in a hierarchical structure.

The top-ranked teams in a lower division throughout a season are promoted to a higher division for the next season. Likewise, the teams with the worst performance records are relegated to the lower division for the following season.

The teams with the best records would qualify for the promotion and are said to be in the promotion zone, while the teams at the bottom stay in the relegation or drop zone.

Leagues that follow relegation and promotion systems are referred to as open leagues. To put it in a nutshell, the teams are split into different divisions such as A division and B division.

The best teams in the B division are exchanged with the worst teams in the A division after completion of each season.

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The Swedish Hockey League (SHL) is one of the most significant hockey leagues to follow the Promotion and Relegation system.

When the regular season games are completed in the SHL, the two lowest-ranked teams will compete in the relegation and promotion series Kvalserien to qualify for the next season.

In case two or more teams end up tied in points, the qualified teams are determined by the given tiebreaker format:

  • Best goal difference
  • Most goals scored
  • Head-to-head results between the tied teams

The winning team gets to compete in the SHL for the next season, while the losing team is relegated to the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan League.

To fill the place of the relegated team, the champion of HockeyAllsvenskan is promoted to the SHL. The case is different for the four major leagues (i.e. MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL).

Being closed leagues, these "Big Four" leagues don't follow the Promotion and Relegation system. Each of the leagues has 30-32 franchises based in the United States and Canada.

A new franchise is added to the league by the Expansion Draft. In the NHL, the Seattle Kraken is the newest expansion club that was added before the NHL 2021-22 season.

NHL Relegation Rules

There is no relegation in the NHL, as it is a closed league. No teams are either promoted or relegated to other leagues.

The new players in the teams are acquired from the NHL Entry Draft every year. The Entry Draft provides an opportunity to play in the biggest hockey league for players competing in other different leagues. 

Moreover, the NHL franchises also have AHL and ECHL affiliate teams, and the players can be transferred to and from these farm teams. However, the teams themselves are never promoted or relegated.

The San Jose Sharks are witnessing their worst season in 2023-24. However, the story of other teams in the past is quite similar. Fortunately, they have successfully made a good comeback.

The Colorado Avalanche had a worst record of 22-56-4 during the 2016-17 season. With continuous improvements, the Avalanche franchise became the Stanley Cup champion in 2022.

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The Detroit Red Wings fans won't forget the NHL 2019-20 season for its one of the poorest performances. Detroit had a 17-49-5 standing, which is the league-wide worst record after the 1990s.

In 1918, the Montreal Wanderers became the first NHL franchise to defunct after playing only one season. The Wanderers were shut down because of a lack of available players due to World War I.

The Cleveland Barons were founded in 1976 and were merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1978. Both teams were struggling with the financial crisis. The Barons are the last NHL franchise to cease operations to date.

The strong team of executives and players comes at a strong price. If a team is rich enough to own them, it can deliver a remarkable performance in the league.

On the other hand, a poor team struggling to generate revenues can't acquire or retain the best players. The consequences are seen in the games.

The NHL was established in 1917 as the successor to the National Hockey Association (NHA). When the League was founded, it had four teams all based in Canada.

When the Boston Bruins joined the NHL in 1924, the league was expanded to the United States for the first time. However, there are currently 25 NHL franchises based in the U.S. and only 7 Canadian teams.

What Is Relegation In World Junior Hockey?

Relegation in World Junior Hockey means the demotion of the losing teams to a lower Division. It means that the loser of the Top Division is assigned to Division I.

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In IIHF World Junior Hockey, the main tournament features the 'Top Division' consisting of the top ten ranked hockey nations in the world. 

Furthermore, the IIHF World Junior Hockey also comprises three lower pools - Division I, Division II, and Division III.

The winners of each tournament have the right to be promoted to a higher pool. The losing team will have to face relegation to a lower pool. A best-of-three Relegation Round series is played between the two last-placed teams. 

The winner of this series secures a space to compete at the  IIHF World Junior Championship tournament next year while the losing team will be relegated to the U20 World Championship Division I Group A.

IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Format

In the Preliminary Round, the ten teams are divided into two, five-team groups.

The top four teams from each group followed by a single round-robin series advance to the Playoff Round. The last-placed team in each group moves to the Relegation Round.

The top four teams from the Preliminary Round will play a cross-over Quarter-Final game: 1A vs. 4B, 1B vs. 4A, 2A vs. 3B, and 2B vs. 3A.

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Criteria for the best-ranked team in the semifinals:

  1. placement in the group
  2. points in the preliminary round
  3. goal difference in the preliminary round
  4. goals scored in the preliminary round
  5. seeding coming into the tournament

The second-best-ranked semi-finalist will play the third-best-ranked semi-finalist. Time slots for the semi-final games are determined after the quarter-final games.

The winner of each Semi-Final game will advance to the Gold Medal Game, while the losing teams will compete in the Bronze Medal Game.

Three Point System

Points shall be awarded as follows for each game:

  • The winning team will receive 3 points after regulation time, while the losing team will receive 0 points.
  • Equal 1-1 points will be distributed for both teams if the game is tied after regulation time.
  • When a team wins the game in a 5-minute overtime period, or the Penalty-Shot Shootout, it will be awarded an additional point.

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