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Keeping It Fresh
- Updated: February 27, 2013
The NHL is in the process of purposing a realignment of the teams league and structure. A process league officials, NHLPA members, and NHL board of governors have been working on over the last three weeks. It would appear that the finals details are to be worked out very soon. The idea is for the change to go into effect next season. It’s nice to see some progress and good interaction after the lockout created such a stalemate. Both sides seem to believe the outcome of the change is in the best interest of the league and players. Just what exactly are these changes, and how do they effect things? We’ll let’s talk about all that goodness, if you can call it that.
The premises of the change is to change the conferences from having 3 divisions within the conference and making 2 divisions per conference. Relocated a number of teams to new divisions to accommodate the change. Instead of having the Atlantic, Northeast, and Southeast the Eastern conference would instead have Central and Atlantic with 16 teams. The Western conference would have a Pacific and Mid-West in place of the current Central, Northwest, and Pacific with 14 teams. The way the divisions would be broken up are currently purposed at such:
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|New York Islanders||Minnesota|
|New York Rangers||Nashville|
A little weird that the Eastern conference has 2 more teams than the Western after that switcheroo. Unless there are plans for 2 more teams to be announced next season it comes off as odd. Which would make sense, either another 2 Canadian teams or something in Seattle or Kansas possibly. How bout a return to Hartford! Generally though, you see leagues trying to balance a currently unbalanced league. You saw the MLB move the Astros to the American League in order to make the leagues equal. While the plan looks great for future additions to the league, it’s only confusing right now. Why not talk change when the league it up to 32 teams? The NHL has decided to take their currently perfectly balanced 5 team divisions and make this cluster fuck. Which when it comes time for playoffs — which we will go over next– it is 7% harder for teams in the East to make the playoffs than a team in the West. Really not adding up here. I mean I realize you can’t make 30 go into 4 evenly but the way the NHL playoffs are organized based off the point system, you could have one seven team division and one eight team in both conferences without too big of a headache. No need to make one conference have two divisions of eight.
Names of the divisions aside you can see where the league is trying to go with this, but overall the move currently just does not make sense. It puts Winnipeg where they actually belong based off their location, which is about the only thing that makes sense. I realize Detroit has been dying to get back into the Eastern conference although with the growing talent out west you’d think it would be less of an issue. I suppose they just want to see the original 6 teams a couple more times a year which makes sense for them. As a Bruins fan I’ll gladly take more annual games with the Red Wings, but there has to be another way. Overall I think the talks of this could have been bumped a long ways away. Let’s get our 2 new teams before we throw the league into a scramble of confusion. Who knows maybe Florida who has a less than stellar track record and following relocates by the time the league expands. You see it’s just not needed right now.
Let’s talk playoffs though, and boy how much more of a mess could this be? If the conferences change as much as they would be expected to a big change to the playoffs would be needed. What they are expecting to do is keep the cutoff at 8 teams which puts 16 in the playoffs. Not a big deal until you consider the 2 extra teams the East currently has which means 50% of the teams make the playoffs where as the West 57% of the teams make it. Until that expansion hit’s a little bit harder on the cellar dwellers out East compared to those out West. It’s the little things that add up on this change.
The top 3 teams from each division would earn themselves a berth based off of points. From there the top 2 remaining teams from the conference points wise earn themselves a “wild card” spot. If you can call it that. The team with the most points in the conference plays the lowest pointed wild card team, the 2nd most plays the second least. The remaining 4 teams would go at it based off of division and points. While it doesn’t change much, it avoids a divisional winner out seeding a team with more points than them. When you look at how they are wanting the playoffs structured it’s essentially making divisions pointless anyways.
Why not just have 2 conferences where the majority of the games are played within the conference. Top 8 teams regardless make the playoffs. Why even waste time on making 2 divisions? 2 conferences of 15 teams. Play each team in the other conference once. From there break up the remaining 67 games with your conference foes. That’s 2 games per team and a couple teams you would play more than twice. What does everybody think about that? Why even bother with divisions at this point? Would be an interesting way to play the year out yeah? Kind of not your typical season but if we are talking change, I’m providing my opinion on the matter. Would love to hear your thoughts on the whole thing, my idea, and your own ideas in the comments.
Author: Tyler Arnold
My name is Tyler Arnold, I am the founder, a co-owner, and editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. Sports have been my life since I was young, so here I am doing the only sensible thing, making a career of it. I love it all, and will watch any and every game I possibly can. Thanks for your readership.