- Hits: 109
By ETHAN FAHEY
The National Hockey League (NHL) accepted the realignment proposal for the 2013/2014 season and frankly, Chinese puzzle boxes are easier to figure out.
There’s a lot of people who are befuddled by the teams’ new setup, myself included.
Certainly the NHL liked the sound of the realignment: every team would play in every team’s building, it makes more sense geographically, and there’s the excitement of a wild card race. However, fans need time to get used to it.
The most dominant new aspect is that every team plays in every team’s building at least once. Being a Leafs fan (pause for generic Leafs joke) I can see the high demand for this idea, since no matter where Toronto plays they seem to attract a large fan base. So now, if you’re a lonely Phoenix Coyotes fan hiding in the masses of a hockey town like Montreal you’re guaranteed you don’t have to go too far to see your team play live.
What nobody seems to know right now, is how teams make the playoffs. Let me try to clarify for you.
The NHL has four divisions, which vie for spots in the postseason. The Pacific division consists of Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
The Central division has Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
That’s a total of 14 teams out West.
In the East there’s the Atlantic division, which is Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, both New York teams, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington make up the Metropolitan division, which seems to be getting no respect as they’re the butt of every sports talk show joke these days.
That gives us 16 teams in the East, which brings us to another debacle. The top eight from each conference will make the playoffs, but with 14 teams in the west and 16 in the east this makes things a bit unfair.
If Alain Vigneault couldn’t make the playoffs in the west with the Vancouver Canucks and 15 playoff berths, how’s he going to make it in the east with the New York Rangers and 14 berths?
This has both players and coaches scratching their heads, and I think everybody knows this season is simply a test-drive for the new system.
The top three teams from each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs with four spots remaining. After that, the two highest-point-scoring teams in each conference, regardless of division will make the playoffs, thus adding a wildcard race to the NHL similar to baseball. Just what people want, to make hockey more like baseball.
I, for one, am looking forward to the new setup. Getting to see teams that I usually don’t get a look at because they’re out west will be like getting to see a dog walk on his hind legs.
Hopefully in the coming years the NHL can perfect this system, and find a surefire way to get the Leafs into the playoffs.