Sometimes, things do go over without a hitch in the NHL.
Just months removed from a lockout that threatened to kill the 2012-2013 season, the NHL board of governors followed the NHLPA’s lead and voted to approve a plan to realign the league’s 30 teams into four divisions that are more geographically-friendly than the current six divisions the NHL currently has.
See how easy it can be, guys?
Sarcasm toward Mr. Fehr and Mr. Bettman aside, the realignment plan will certainly make life easier for many teams; for example, the Winnipeg Jets, currently residing in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference due to the fact that they were only recently the Atlanta Thrashers, will now play in the Western Conference, which should lower their airfare expenses just a tad. Teams such as Detroit and Columbus will also benefit, as they now will reside in the Eastern Conference, and will play a lot more games in the time zone that they actually belong to – go figure.
There is still some weirdness to be found in the new divisions . . . such as the fact that the two Southern-most teams in the Eastern Conference, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, will be playing in a division made up mostly of the most Northern-based teams in the East: Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Detroit. Does that make sense to anyone? Couldn’t the two Florida teams be in the same division as the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes? Ah, logic be damned! At least the NHL got the East-to-West stuff figured out.
Ah, but there’s another catch: while there will be 14 teams in the Western Conference now, the Eastern Conference will be loaded up with 16 teams, meaning it is now mathematically easier to make the playoffs out west than in the east. To account for this, the current playoff system will be scrapped and replaced with a system in which the top three teams from each division qualify for the playoffs, followed by the next two teams with the most points. In which case it is still mathematically easier to make the playoffs in the west.
For those of you who are curious about how the schedule will be arranged, click here and read until your head explodes!!!