Blog Entry

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:24 am

By Brian Stubits

There is a lot of complaining about the NHL's total realignment going on and a it feels to me like kvetching for kvetching's sake.

There is plenty of complaining about it being unfair that some teams only have seven-team conferences while others are in eight-team conferences, mathematically reducing their chances of making the playoffs. But lest we forget that we only have to go back to the 1994-95 season to see a time where the NHL was playing with unbalanced conferences. The East and two more teams than the West at the time. It's not like this is something new.

In that same vein, people are already complaining about the possibility that the fifth-place team in one conference will have a better record than the fourth-place team in another conference and will miss the playoffs despite having a better season.

Ummm, hello? This happens every season in the NHL under the current format. Just last season the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames both had to watch the New York Rangers in the playoffs despite having more points when the season was done.

This is nothing new. You compete against your field, not the entirety of the league. It's why in college football an 8-4 conference champion (UConn in 2010, for example) can go to a BCS bowl. You are only judged by your peers.

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How about complaints like this one coming out of Buffalo? They still remember being the third best team in the NHL in 1989-90 and finished second in their division. They then had to play the NHL's fourth-best team, the Montreal Canadiens, in the first round and lost.

I just can't buy it. Even under the current playoff format, the Sabres would have had to go through the Canadiens eventually, anyway. In fact, get this. Under the current playoff format the Sabres and Canadiens would have played ... in the first round! Considering all division winners get the top seeds (pretending there were three divisions, just showing how two good "in-conference" teams would fit) the Sabres would be the four seed and the Habs the five.

One complaint that doesn't feel like just a complaint is regarding the balanced schedule. The Bruins now, for example, will be the Rangers as many times as the Ducks (or any team not in their conference). That seems a bit messed up, but it's sort of a necessary evil. Obviously the plus side to it is that you will get to see every team in every arena every season.

Plus, in theory it helps determine the four best teams in each conference. With close to half of a team's games being played intra-divisionally. It's an easier comparison, more apples to apples when looking at conference standings.

It's time to revamp the thinking. There is a reason why the NHL got rid of the word division in favor of four conferences. Based on the scheduling, the only thing that one of the Eastern conferences has in common with the other East conference is that it is in the East. As mentioned, they will play teams on the West Coast as often as teams 200 miles down the road.

It's being welcomed right now with mostly open arms from hockey fans. They are loving the concept. People are romantic about the past like that. But there might come a time when this system is loathed, too. However every system is loathed by somebody.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Nothing is. But complaining about it is going to get you nowhere. Embrace it, people.

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Category: NHL

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:19 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

it's all good.i remember when there where just 6 teams in the league.but like all the others pro sports it's all about money.sports is no longer fun to watch or go to's said to say,but it's fans like us that have done and the owners also.we really need to get back the enjoyment for the fans that use to be there,and forget about how muchthey get.for it's the fans that are paying for all this that the leagues are doing.anyway things just go on.good luck everyone.   

Since: May 20, 2010
Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:49 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Nothing to see here....move along.

Since: Oct 2, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:41 pm

No Complaints - Overjoyed!

Were any of you alive or watching hockey in the 80's?  I grew up watching the Blues play in the Norris Division.  There were only 21 teams back then - so 4 out of every 5 teams from each division made the playoffs (except in the old Patrick Division where they had 6 teams - so 2 got left out).  You played each team in your division 8 times (4H/4A) ((32 games)) and you played every other team in the NHL 3 times - (2H/1A or 1H/2A)  ((48 games)) for an 80 game season.

You had to kick your division's butt to make the playoffs - and THEN you had to eliminate those same division foes to advance to the Conf Finals.       YOU WANT TO BE DIVISION CHAMPION -  4 DIVISION CHAMPIONS PLAY FOR THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP.  THEN THOSE TWO CONF play for the STANLEY CUP.    I don't care if a 66 pt LA King team in the Smythe Division finished 5th when a 65 pt STL Blues team finished 4th in the Norris.  You gotta be top 4 in your division.  If you play in an awesome division - you better get better.   So if Pittsburgh and NYR and Washington are the 3 best teams next year - guess what - they are going to have to be superior to each other.  Strive for the best in your division.  Did we get 1 vs 2 in MLB this year?  No... we got 2 (texas rangers) vs 4 (St.Louis Cards).   Just because Pitt and NYR might be 1 and 2 overall - doesn't mean they should play each other for the Cup. It doesn't have to be 1 vs. 2     Which is why College Football is so screwed up - putting Alabama vs. LSU rematch "Cuz they are the best two teams" according to a computer.  

In 90-91 the two best teams in the NHL were Chicago 106pts, and STL 105 pts.  And they both played in the Norris and they BOTH were eliminated by the 4th place 68pt Minnesota North Stars riding a hot goalie to the finals where they lost to Pittsburgh.   That is why we play the games.  So let's let them play this way and enjoy it.  

Bravo to the NHL for giving us something better than what we have been forced to watch for the past however long.   :)

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:32 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Lets say it is the Flyers, Detroit wins theirs, and Vancouver and Toronto. That is your final 4 in a year when Toronto and Vancouver could be considered the leagues 7th/9th best teams.

I hear you and I don't disagree, but for arguments sake....That can already happen. Upsets happen all the time. If Toronto makes it through the Bruins, Sabres, and/or whoever else in their conference, then they earned their spot in the Final 4. 

I agree it may take a little bit away from the Final 4 though. As a Penguins fan, I'd love to see them play the Flyers in the Conference Finals, but now the best I can hope for is the second round. They are making it more likely for rivalries in the first 2 rounds, but they are decreasing the chances for rivalries in the Final 4.

The other thing I don't like about the playoff setup is that it was a treat to watch the Pens play the Flyers and Capitals in the playoffs. Now it will be expected just about every year. 

Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:03 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

I think the realignment is better for the game but it is not just complaining. In every scenario a group of teams get shafted. Under the last framework, it was Detroit, Minnesota, Vancouver, Dallas, Nashville. Basically, teams that played a a lot of their games in another time zone, some having a three hour time difference pretty regularly. Now, the Northeast gets shafted because big, whinny baby Jeremy Jabobs didn't want Pitteburgh to be put in another conference than Philadelphia. That one conference was toally manufactured by the NHL to get a future TV deal with a big network, and then they just dumped all of the other old Southeast teams into a division with the Northeast. I don't want the Leafs to play Florida and Tampa Bay six times a year. This is BS. But, the Northeast teams have strong fan bases who will come to watch their team play against whomever, and CBC or TSN will still pay huge money for broadcast rights in Canada, so they just don't matter to Bettman

Since: Dec 22, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:37 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Boston and Buffalo have a rivalry with Miami in the NFL.  Boston and Toronto have a rivalry with Tampa Bay in MLB.  Having those Florida teams in a conference with Northeastern teams is nothing new.  The NHL did a great job in keeping the long standing rivalries together within the conferences.  Florida and Tampa Bay fans will enjoy watching the physical style from the  teams in their new conference.  A&n
bsp;Boston/Tampa Bay rivalry has already begun after that classic seven game series between the two teams last spring.

Since: May 25, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:29 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Yeah some teams make the playoffs now with less points than other teams, which is stupid, so to change it so it happens even more often is even more stupid.  If the season ended now, the 20th overall Caps would be in over the 11th overall Blues.  I went back over the standings a few years, and in 06, the 65 point 4th place Blackhawks would have made it over the 85 point fifth place wild.  20 points is a hell of a difference.  If the schedule is more "balanced", seed 1-16 overall and get it over with.  Same friggin teams will be playing each other every year, PLUS more often in the regular season as well.  BORRRRing.........

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:09 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

I love everything they are doing here except i would tweek the proposed playoff format. Round 1 keep as they propose, and then reseed with 8 teams instead of 4. You get the benefit of great rivalries in the first round, and you also prevent all the best teams possibly getting knocked out in round 2.

For instance, Let's say the Caps, Pens and Rangers are 3 of the top 4 NHL teams in the league in a given year. OR to avoid being called a homer let's say the Flyers, Pens and Caps with Detroit being considered top 4 reg season. As it stands now, Flers, Pens and Caps will eliminate eachother in rounds 1 and 2 leaving 1 remaining. Lets say it is the Flyers, Detroit wins theirs, and Vancouver and Toronto. That is your final 4 in a year when Toronto and Vancouver could be considered the leagues 7th/9th best teams. While the early playiff rounds may be interesting, it takes away from the later rounds. How can you argue they are not the 9th best team when they don't play outside their one little conference in the playoffs till the final 4 

Since: Jul 3, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:59 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

I love the realignment. I think it will create a better and more dramatic brand of hockey. Florida and Tampa in the new "Northeast" I think is good of those teams. They will play Montreal and Toronto more often, and bring in tickets sales from the "snowbirds". I say Good Job NHL.

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:15 pm

Stop the complaints, just accept NHL realignment

Wouldn't it make more sense to place them in either the mid-atlantic, or even central conference?

Having them in the Central might make it less travel, but then you have the time zone difference probelm like CBJ and DET have and still will have.

I don't have a problem with the regular season set-up. It's not perfect (the Florida teams especially), but it's not bad for the majority. I just don't know about the playoff setup. I'm undecided. It will increase the hatred for the teams in your conference since you will play them in the playoffs so much. That will create a little bit more fun, but there are some problems. As was mentioned, you won't have to face one of your conference teams for the right to go to the Finals and it will be tougher for some teams to ever make the playoffs.

I'm still trying to make up my mind, but as a Penguins fan, I'm glad we are in the same division as the Flyers. So overall, I'm happy. 

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