One More Take On This Whole Alignment Malarkey
Realignment happened, and it’s got plenty of the hockey world in a tizzy. Instead of losing my crap over the plan, I actually kind of like it. A lot. After the jump, I explain why.
So the gist of the thing is the league will be divided into four conferences. Teams will play their conference rivals six times a season, three times both home and away, and then play every other team in the league once each home and away. For the Sabres, that means seeing Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto six times (like they already had been) and seeing Tampa Bay and Florida twice more. Behold the James Mirtle-nicknamed “Snowbird Conference”.
It’s a bummer that the Sabres will lose two games each to every team in the soon to be defunct Eastern Conference, but I’m very excited at the prospect of every single team playing in every single city. Top priority on the agenda? Edmonton and their trio of wunderkind forwards.
The playoffs aren’t quite settled yet – tweets from various journos said that would be resolved by the board of governors in March – but the ideas being bandied about can lead to some bats**t insane matchups if the chips all fall into place. Some folks, particularly those around during the 80s, don’t exactly recall the myriad Sabres/Bruins matchups from that decade with delight. However, situations like that give rise to moments of singular joy and catharsis like the famous May Day goal. Put me down as in favor of divisional playoffs and the extra bad blood they’ll foster until the later rounds
There were a few tweets laden with dismay over Nick Kypreos reporting that the conferences could be named for corporate sponsors of the NHL, but the only reaction that would elicit from me is a shrug. I’m a big Liverpool FC fan so I’ve become desensitized to corporate names at the highest level of sport – after all, LFC’s entire league is named for a bank! Of course, I’d like to see the old divisional names return. Some nostalgia is a good thing and there’s no reason to think those wouldn’t be well-received.
As much as I like this plan for reorganizing the league, I would have much rather seen Winnipeg moved to the current Northwest Division, Minnesota moved to the Central Division, and Nashville moved to the Southeast Division. The current set-up of the NHL is just fine and would continue to be with a slight tweaking. Instead, the new NHL looks like it’s ready for either expansion (Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, and a Southern Ontario team look likely) or contraction (not good for growth of the game, but some teams just aren’t surviving). Like all things hockey, especially drafts and trades, it’s going to take a lot longer than first glances to see how something works out.