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Good day, Groundhogs! I'm a few days behind, so just listened to the latest podcast today. Again, a fine job by our friends Kardinal, Pan and Canuck.
I did want to engage on one thing that was raised during the episode, and that was realignment and what may come down the pipe now that that silly little lockout thing has been settled. Kardinal, I believe it was you who said he wasn't happy with that proposal a year ago, and that you weren't sorry to see it get deep-sixed by the NHLPA.
As I understood it, the 2012 proposal was to move to four divisions, two per conference (one of eight teams, the other of seven). Eight teams make the playoffs, divisional play first, then division champions play in conference final, then East-vs-West Cup final.
Kard, I'd be interested to hear more about what you didn't like about that proposal. Personally, I thought that while the proposal was flawed, it would have been a pretty damned good improvement over the current system, if for no other reason than seeding divisional winners one-two-three in the conference (as is currently done) is incredibly stupid. Some team inevitably gets hosed out of home-ice advantage because of that, and some undeserving team gets promoted unjustifiably. I'll be glad when they ditch that one-two-three seeding system.
Personally, I'd still just seed them straight through the conference, just without the dumbass 1-2-3 rule. You're either good enough to be a top 8 team, or you're not. Period. (Even better, seed 'em one through sixteen throughout the League. Screw the divisions and conferences. Who wouldn't love to see a Montreal-Boston cup final again, eh? It'll never, ever happen, though.) What I also liked about that proposal was that it included not just a division alignment but a scheduling reformation - 4 divisions, and then a balanced sched for each team. Yes! What a concept! So you play an even number of games against your division rivals (whatever number that might be) in what's now a much larger division, and then home-and-home against ALL other teams. No conferences to play some secondary majority of your games within, and then some teams from the other conference who you only see once in a blue moon. all of which leads to lunacy and unfairness. I like that.
So, that's my ramble. Kard, and anyone else: thoughts on how you'd like to see the NHL realigned (if at all)?
Kinda out of the loop on the discussion but I want to see WPG obviously moved to Western and Detroit moved to Eastern.
Things I didn't like about the proposed realignment:
- OTT/MTL/TOR/BOS/BUF.......and FLA/TBL??? W. T. F. - 4 conferences with the 1st and 2nd round of playoffs always within the division
I realize that the NHL really likes having NYR/NYI/NJR/PIT/PHI/WAS/CAR together, but putting the two most southern teams with the Canadian ones and Boston (I call Buffalo a 'Canadian team' as half their fan base comes from this side of the border) smacks of (a) hoping to get Canadians vacationing in FL to go to NHL games while their team is in the area, and (b) not caring about the two FL teams and throwing them somewhere just to put them somewhere. I realize it's difficult with the next closest teams being NYR/NYI/NJD and the league not wanting to break that group up, but putting in the two farthest teams that are still in our time zone is just ridiculous. Nashville and St Louis are closer, let alone Chicago and Detroit (which would create amazing original six rivalries with MTL and TOR). I realize this would make for one very "rich" conference and the one with FL and the rest of the midwest would be a "poor" one, but as a hockey fan in a market that actually cares about hockey it would be better for me.
I like the variety concept of how the playoffs are determined today, with the top 8 teams in the conference (or, more specifically, division leaders + top 5) rather than having to always face your divisional opponents in the first two rounds of the playoffs. I'm getting tired of facing MTL/BOS/TOR/BUF so much right now, and to face them as much during the regular season and then again in the playoffs doesn't appeal all that much. I realize classic rivalries were fueled this way, but does anyone really think that if PHI and PIT rivalry would disappear if they didn't play in the playoffs? NYR fans still chant "POTVIN SUCKS!" when he's been retired for 25 years (last season was 87-88) and the Islanders haven't made the playoffs in years.
My $0.02, before the penny is phased out of circulation.
Those are both fair and valid criticisms, Kard. I don't completely disagree.
I did say that the proposed realignment was flawed, and an over-emphasis on the divisions in the playoffs was one of those flaws. As I noted, I'd much sooner just rank everyone in the League 1 through 16. Screw geography, I say--stand or fall on on your record. But, of course, the suits with MBAs in marketing will never see it that way.
I still maintain that the 2012 proposal, warts and all, was was better than the current system. That "division leaders plus top 5" thing gets waaaay under my skin just because of the basic unfairness of it. Last season was a perfect example. Florida and Phoenix were both ranked 3 seeds higher than they should have been on their records. We have even seen scenarios where a team that was on the bubble of playoff contention (I think it was Washington that did this a few seasons back) vaulted into 3rd place literally overnight. Admittedly, no playoff format is perfect, but I think that is sheer nonsense. I could live with two rounds of intra-divisional playoffs if that was what it took to ditch it. I honestly could.
Regarding FL and TBY being in the same division as OTT/TOR/MTL/BOS/BUF...hah, yeah, I had forgotten about that wrinkle. I can't say it is any weirder, though, that WPG being in the Southeast, which is exactly what we're stuck with until they fix this current system.
And truth be told, there is no perfect way to do this. Any system based on arbitrary geographic boundaries will always have some distortions in it. The NHL's current Pacific Division is ridiculously big. (If you are the Dallas Stars, the closest team in your division is nearly 1,100 miles away!!!) Columbus and Detroit are both in the Eastern time zone but in the Western Conference, and as such have to put up with travel schedules that would make most Eastern teams cry. And this isn't unique to the NHL. The OHL, for example, has Sault Ste Marie playing in a division with teams like Plymouth, Windsor, Sarnia and Saginaw (and junior teams do most of their traveling by bus--talk about brutal travel!).
If what they're trying to do with TB and FL is stack their arenas with Canadian snowbirds and/or vacationers...well, I think we can identify the real problem there: overexpansion. There are just too many teams in too many places where no one gives a crap. The fact that those two Florida franchises would have been "orphaned" by the proposed realignment reflects that more than anything, in my opinion. Even your Midwest-plus-Florida grouping idea (which isn't bad) still wouldn't have solved the problem--it would have just shifted it further west.
The bigger the League gets, the more awkward the alignments and schedules get. Can't get around that, not until the NHL and NHLPA one day face the music and realize that the beast is just too big.
What are we up to now...$0.04? Is that with or without HST?
Speaking of snowbirds... I'm attending the Senators game IN TAMPA next Friday January 25th. Sitting down in the 100s somewhat behind Sens bench.
Cheaper than SBP? yes, but they they weren't giving them away :)
Yeah, my brother and I had this same conversation. They were originally thinking of having WPG/CGY/EDM/VAN/MN in a North West division, similar to what was in ye olde days, but apparently Minnesota complained bitterly about being in an all-Canadian division so I'm guessing that might've been the plan w/the Southern US teams. (As has been previously mentioned here) I also agree with the over expansion, they just put teams into markets that couldn't really support them... *cough*Phoenix*cough*.
The real problem is East vs. West. Out here teams will just have to travel a lot more. The East always baffled me with how close everything was with NYR, PIT, NJ, BFL, etc. How they could basically take a bus to their locations.
Our closest team to play would be Minnesota which is 2 hours by plane, then you have the two lolberta teams on the other side. I think the new schedule the NHL originally proposed had the Western teams travelling a lot more (for some reason) which was ultimately why it was vetoed. Vancouver in particular was upset if I remember. I've heard that the players also complain about the time zone differences when they travel, and I guess in the East they wouldn't be used to it, but I don't think it's really that much of a factor since American teams should be used to playing afternoon games anyway :P
Travel was the key to the realignment proposal. The WPG, NAS, MIN etc. division was all in the same time zone which was a major issue for travel. Vancouver to LA/ANA isn't that long of a flight. The North East also has a lot of teams based strictly on population and climate. Travel wise, it's great, but I agree with the boredom. Plus, having Crosby, Ovechkin and Stamkos in the east, and 2 in the same conference, the other conferences won't see the superstars as often.