Better, Good, Not Great… NHL Realignment.
By Scotty Bonner
Deer Park, NY – I’m excited, very excited about the new NHL realignment, and new playoff format! I have to give a big round of applause to Gary Bettman, the Owners, and NHLPA for getting this done. Though not perfect, it is so much of an improvement over what we have now that I just can’t wait for next season! True they used the olderst trick in the book on us, sandbagging themselves so that any change would be seen as fantastic, but they have done a nice job rectifying a terrible wrong in the league.
For continuities sake we shall refer to the divisions as they are called today. However I truly doubt that Barclay’s Center rafters shall be adorned in Division D Championship banners in the near future, Mario Lemieux Division Champions, now that I could see… Dear Mr. Gary Bettman… (just kidding)… All Right fine since you asked, the Divisions should be so named. The Mario Lemieux, The Gordie Howe, The Stan Mikita, and here’ the real tuff one… The Wayne Gretzky…
Now when one has themselves a nice new samwich from their favorite delicatessen, one does not simply hold it and stare, one digs in.. so shall we? The “new” NHL
DIV A: DIV B:
Anaheim St. Louis
Los Angeles Dallas
San Jose Nashville
DIV C: DIV D:
Boston New York
Montreal New York
Toronto New Jersey
Tampa Bay Columbus
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Hope and Change ?!?
Not too shabby, obviously the first thing that jumps out at everyone is the uneven amount of teams per division and conference. An easy and obvious fix. Expand! Carlton is Whitfield ! you darn right I said expand! Simple put a team in the “Gretzky” division from Seattle, and a team in the “Mikita” from Milwaukee which as we all know is Algonquin for “the Good land”, and viola problems solved… But I digress… Oh one caveat though. The Seattle team must hire the same marketing firm that re-branded their beloved Seahawks last season…I mean we could all use a little more neon green in our lives no?
Other things that jump out are the Red Wings, and Blue Jackets move to the Prince of Wales conference. I have to admit they are a nice fit in that division, as odd as it seems to move Detroit. I think Columbus is a nice blue collar, college, hockey town (which I’ve never been to) that will enjoy an instant rivalry with the Penguins, cause as anyone who has been to Heinz Field knows the good people of Pittsburgh do not care much for the citizens of Ohio. So this new addition to the NHL rivalry docket will be a sweet one.
Detroit will pick up where it left off with their old nemesis Toronto, and with their proximity to Buffalo, we should see some nice instant geographical Niagara Falls flar ups there right from the get go. Couple that with entering into two of the best hockey towns in the league Boston, and Montreal, and the Red Wings will do just fine.
I’d be terribly remiss if I failed to mention that it is going to seem a bit weird not having Detroit with Chicago, and St.Louis as the Norris Division we all knew and loved is no more. But change is at times necessary and can be good.
The Big moves in the (as of today nameless West) Campbell Conference are the Jets moving to the “B” (Mikita), along with Minnesota, Colorado, and Dallas. Obviously Winnipeg needed to change conferences, when the lockout ended they were like “oh that’s just swell” only in conference games…” Kinda apropos they are named the “Jets” since they are frequently on one.
Minnesota just makes sense in a division with the Blackhawks and St. Louis, because the Midwest of America is just a hotbed for hockey (hence a team in Wisconsin would do very nicely, just sayin…). However it doesn’t seem quite right without Detroit. But you gotta give to get, so if losing Detroit here makes all this happen, then you’ve got to be on board is how you should see it.
Another nice addition to the realignment is the fact that now each team will visit each city at least once a season ( lockouts not withstanding of course.) There are too few division games for me with the new and improved playoff format. However I do recognize that I can’t be happy with every team in every city, and then criticizes the amount of division games played, and far be it from me to have any inconsistencies in my writing… Here is a link to the breakdown of the schedule if you wish to have a look-see. http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2013-03-14/nhl-realignment-plan-2013-new-divisions-playoff-format-schedule-red-wings-east . It was too much for me to digest, but to each their own..
For this I truly want to thank the NHL for fixing the current 1-8 conference playoff system. I always hated it, and I would let anyone in earshot know how I felt. So from my wife and small children to the NHL a big thank you!
Finally the NHL realized that their playoffs are their bread and butter, and nothing is better then divisional foes in the first two rounds. And with this new format now even the conference finals could be two division foes. A team could actually have 3 division opponents then the Stanley Cup finals in the new format.
Most importantly it reemphasizes the divisions. The playoff format will work like this. The top 3 teams in each of the 4 divisions will make the playoffs seeded 1,2,3 in their divisions respectfully. The next 2 top point getters in the conference shall receive the “wildcard” from said conference, and thus will be the #4 seed in the playoff division they shall be assigned.
Assignment is based on the division winners standing as either 1 or 2 in the conference. The best regular season team in the conference will play the 2nd wildcard or “worse” of the 2 wild card teams by points, and the #2 division winner will play the “best” wildcard team as determined by total points at the end of the regular season.. While 2 vs 3 in the division will square off. The winners of each series will meet in the next round inside the “division”.
For example the Detroit Red Wings have the best record in the conference followed by the Bruins and Canadiens in their division. And if the Rangers finished in the 2nd wildcard spot the Rangers would then “move” to the Red Wing/Bruin Division, and face the Wings in the first round. If the Rangers were to win that series they would then play the winner of the Habs/Bruin series in the 2nd round.
Then the two playoff division champions (not banner deserving 1988 New Jersey Devils) will meet in the conference finals, and winner advances on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
At the end of the day.
In a perfect world I’d be king of the NHL, and from my throne of goalie masks, and old waffles I would make the Boston Bruins, and Montreal Canadiens move into the Lemieux division with the Rangers, and Islanders. How the NHL leaves Yankee-Red Sox money on the table quite frankly baffles me. I’d then be moving the Blue Jackets, and the Canes to the “C” division. Say sorry Detroit but you’ve got to be with Chicago, Minni, and St. Louie. Winnipeg, I just can’t see you anywhere but out west with Calgary and Edmonton, and Colorado “Mountain… Get outta my Way!!” You come back to the “Mikita”. While asking Nashville to bring their country music of to the Price of Wales and join Columbus and Buffalo in their division… You get all that? Good… If I were king…
This is a huge step for the NHL as an organIzation to look at something they had done for over 12 seasons, and say “you know what we were wrong on this one ,we can do better.” And better they have done. Perhaps this is the first of many new back tracts of rectification by the NHL to fix all they have botched over the past two decades. Perhaps Gary is softening up in his elder years, or perhaps NBC said “We’d like it this way..” Either way the “why” is irrelevant that fact that it is fixed is great !!!
One can only hope that now that the floodgates of change have swong open they will sweep over the league, and we can one day soon have a sudden death 5-on-5 overtime where the team that is scored upon and loses receives nothing for their failure that night. Hey I boy can dream, can he not??
Quick side note:
- Wednesday Night at 10PM Hawks at Anaheim on NHL network, set your vcr for REC. for that one… You may have to erase some Fraggle Rock episodes, but it’ll be so worth it…
Enjoy what is to be a great week of hockey everyone !!
Trying to Capture the Spirit of the thing…
P.S. Have a Nice Day ?
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