You have no idea how excited I am that the NHL has re-opened for business, and the report from a couple of weeks ago about possible realignment got me even more excited. As much as I enjoyed spending most of this past winter playing World of Warcraft and bitching about Tom Palmer over on my other blog it could not replace the sheer joy and excitement that an honest-to-God NHL season brings to my life.
I've spent too much time over the past month trolling around on HFBoards.com discussing, conjecturing, re-acquainting, commiserating, pontificating, and just plain bloviating on what's going to happen this upcoming season. And, it has been good. Any misgivings I have about the myriad changes that are coming (and there are a few) are quickly overrun by the realization that I get to watch, on average, every night, 6 hours of the best athletes in the world flying up and down a sheet of ice trying to put a 4 inch diameter disc of frozen rubber into a 6 foot by 4 foot opening....on skates!
Ahhh... the psychosis of your average hockey fan is a sight for sore eyes... or, at least, someone else's eyes.
There has been serious discussion about he NHL returning to a 4 division format, shrinking down from the current 6. This year will mark the return of the 'unbalanced' schedule, which I am overjoyed with. The Rivalry(tm) is, in my mind, a major part of how fans become emotionally involved (read: spend more money on) their team of choice. I'm not only a Buffalo Sabres fan, I also absolutely despise the Toronto Maple Leafs. So, there is little more that I look forward to during the year than a good ol' row between the AGH (Angry Goat Heads) and the Queefs. I mean, even Eric Boulton, the recently depart mini-Ray, has his face used as a punching bag with a little more oomph when it's Tie Domi who's doing the punching.
This year's schedule will see the Sabres and the Leafs face off 8 times this year as opposed to 6. And, that also means 25% more Boston (feh!), Montreal (boo!!), and Ottawa (ow... my goalie's got a sunburn from the lamp being lit!). And much less of those in the Western Conference. Oh well. If I want to watch the San Jose Sharks play (and I frequently do), I'll make a cup of coffee and catch them and their great TV crew Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda on the Center Ice Package. The same goes for Edmonton, Vancouver and Whoever's Playing Dallas....
The move back to the old Patrick, Norris, Smythe and Adams divisions and intra-divisional playoffs would be almost too good to be true. 8 Regular season games plus a potential playoff series. Very nice. No better way to get a good hate going than to see a team upwards of 15 times a year.
If they do this, I am formally submitting here, my desired re-alignment (which might annoy some):
- New York Isles
- New York Rangers
- New Jersey Devils
- Montreal Canadians
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Washington Capitals .
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Boston Bruins
- Detroit Red Wings
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Minnesota Wild
- Ottawa Senators
- Buffalo Sabres
- St. Louis Blues
- Dallas Stars
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Atlanta Thrashers
- Nashville Predators
- Florida Panthers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Vancouver Canucks
- Calgary Flames
- Edmonton Oilers
- San Jose Sharks
- Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
- Los Angeles Kings
- Phoenix Coyotes
- Colorado Avalanche
The idea here is to emphasize geographical rivalries as much as possible. Unfortunately, there is no good way to equalize travel costs, that I can see, without severely screwing things up. Some divisions are going to be more widespread (the Smythe and Norris) than others.
I did play with the idea of moving Edmonton or Calgary into the Great Lakes (Adams) division, but then that made the southwestern U.S. division untenable, by having Phoenix and either Columbus or Nashville in the same division.
I think these divisions would be an absolute hoot.
The Schedule should be something like this:
- 42 games vs. your division (meeting each team a minimum of 6 times)
- 24 games vs. the other division in your conference (meeting each team a minimum of 3 times)
- 14 games vs. the other conference (limited to one division, 7 teams, twice)
With an odd-number of teams in each conference, the scheudle could not be regular, there will be some imbalance.
With divisional playoffs in the first and 2nd round. Then re-seeding based on regular season record for the semi-finals and the SC Finals.
Yeah... that's old time hockey.