NHL Realignment. What it means for the Avs.

Posted: December 5, 2011 in The Avs off the Ice

With the rumors coming out that the NHL approved to completely realign the league into 4 conferences rather than 6 divisions, there are going to be some major differences in the league next year. The Avalanche will be in the Pacific Conference, which consists of: Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and the Phoenix Coyotes.

I am not a fan of this system at all, but one thing I have to give the NHL credit for, is they seemed to divide the conferences equally based on talent, right now. Here are the other proposed conferences.

Central Conference: Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and the Minnesota Wild.

Atlantic Conference: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, and the Carolina Hurricanes

Eastern Conference: Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Florida Panthers.

There are so many flaws with this alignment it is silly. There are 16 teams in the West fighting for 8 playoff spots, and 14 in the East for the same amount. That seems fair? The only thing I can think of is hopefully the Coyotes move to the Eastern half, and even everything out.

One part of the plan that I do like, is every team will play each other twice in a season. That makes it a lot more fair, especially when for the last couple years you have teams like Washington who were in a terrible division and were all but guaranteed a division title.

It will also bring Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Claude Giroux to Denver every year, which although means some tough games, it will also mean increased attendance, more revenue, and hopefully more spending from the front office.

Maybe it is just me, but I think the Avs were put into the harder of the two Western Conferences. The conferences with 8 teams will play each team in their conference 5 or 6 times depending on the year, where the conferences with seven teams will play each other 6 times a year. The Avs will have to deal with a very good Edmonton team in the future, and well as the Canucks, Kings, Ducks, and Sharks. All of whom, give the Avs problems. Other than Calgary, there really is not a weak team in the conference.

Another proposed change for the NHL is the playoff system. After the first two rounds, which are played within the “Western” and “Eastern” Conferences, they will re-seed, leaving the possibility of having an all western or eastern Stanley Cup Final. Two words for why that is happening: Crosby-Ovechkin. Of course the NHL just wants to have those two battle it out in the finals for years to come.

The reason why I don’t like it, is because of the round before the finals. Lets say Vancouver and Washington are playing each other in the semi-finals, and the Red Wings and Blackhawks in the other. While it does provide some very exciting Stanley Cup finals possibilites, the possibility of having one series be all across the country while the other is close to each other, leaves a big advantage for whoever wins the geographically close series.

The NHL realignment strategy is bold, but I think like the rest of the sports in the US, there is too much of an East Coast bias in the plan, and will hurt the teams in the west, and make it more difficult for the Western Conference teams to make the playoffs, and make a deep run in the playoffs.


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