If Chicken Little were a hockey fan, he would be announcing that the sky is indeed falling.
In an NHL Board of Governors meeting on Monday night, the group approved a radical realignment to the entire league. Set for the start of the 2012-2013 season, the plan would eliminate both the Eastern and Western Conference for a four conference system. The purpose of the new alignment would be to give each team a more balanced schedule and to group teams closer to their geographical counterparts. Each team will at least play a home and away game against every other team in the league. Opponents in their new conference will fill the remaining games.
The regular season isn’t the only thing that will change. The new playoffs will have the top four teams in each conference qualify. The first round of playoffs would pit the 1st place team against the 4th place team and 2nd place team against the 3rd place team in each conference. The quarterfinals would see the two winners of each match up against one another. The conference semifinals would be the first time a team will match up against another conference. The remaining teams would play for the Stanley Cup.
The new conferences are as follows with (General Geographic Name):
Unnamed #1 (East):
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Unnamed #2 (Atlantic):
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Unnamed #3 (Central):
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Unnamed #4 (West):
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Remember that before this new plan is permanently put in place, the NHL Players Association has to approve of it as well. If they do not approve, the league will have a bigger mess on their hands. However, if the NHLPA approves it as well, what does this mean?
For a lot of clubs, it means better financial numbers in ticket sales. Western Conference teams will see Ovechkin, Stamkos, and Crosby a lot more. The East will roll out the red carpet for the Red Wings, Kopitar, and Perry. It also means that there will be time less spent in the air for the Western Conference teams. The burden of traveling hopes to be even between all 30 teams.
The playoffs will see a constant clash of rivals. Match-ups such as Bruins-Habs, Flyers-Penguins, Capitals – Penguins, Wings-Hawks, Kings-Ducks, and Sharks-Kings will be a possibility starting in the first round. If teams can make it to the 2nd round, they could see another hated rival before making it out of their conference.
As the dust settles from this major decision, we’ll see all the details slowly be ironed out. There is still plenty of work to complete in figuring out the playoffs as well as planning for the end of the Coyotes saga.
What do you think Puck Drunk Love readers? Like it? Hate it?