After a few months of hawt nerdly debate, the NHL has decided to realign its divisional format in favor of a new four-conference system. Goddamn, that started to get boring. To be honest with you, my little Meatheads and Hockey Horndogs, this whole business is like when you want to play Monopoly but then someone starts explaining the rules, like all the rules, and, you know, Christ. I just wanted to move the thimble around the board…
Well, the NHL had a few wrinkles to iron out and we all know that ironing is no fun. Ya’ll have seen my rumpled cardigans. So here is what we think you need to know:
The original plan for NHL realignment pretty much involved taking the League into PepBoys and seeing what they said.
Ultimately, the League decided to go big and play Dr. Moureau (no, not Ethan!) with some teams and kinda combined the old groupings with a few adjustments. Some of these new conferences are suh-weet, bad-ass combinations, like a griffin (lion+eagle= Woah/Holy Shit!/Watch Out, that Lion can fly!), while others are, well, confusing and so-so, like a sphinx (lion+a woman’s head= uh… kinky?) or a manimal or, well, this other kind of manimal.
Here’s a little play-group that I think everybody’s gonna love: this new Mid-Atlantic Conference. You got your Capitals, you got your Flyers, you got your Penguins, you got your Rangers, and you got three other teams whose mothers are “very proud of them.” But, yeah, this is pretty much the NHL’s Justice League, except this group of heroes play hockey against each other. This supergroup makes a lot of sense (sense, pl. senses, noun- $$$) for the NHL because a lot of people live within this metropolitan area, ergot, every game will be an awesome sell-out event on par with a CSNY concert circa ’69.
The newfangled Central-Conference is the Derek and the Dominoes to the Atlantic’s CSNY, because it’s kinda full of rockers, too. But you might not want to buy the whole album or anything. I’m gonna stop this analogy…. NOW. But, this little hodgepodge of hockey clubs kept the Detroit-Chicago rivalry alive, which is gooo-oood, and gave the Red Wings many more games that started at a reasonable hour for fans to tune in. So, to recap; winners: Robocop, Kid Rock (assuming he still owns a television set), and Ted Nugent (assuming he didn’t fire a flaming arrow through his TV); losers: Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Not all the slices of the hockey sheetcake are equitable or continuous, though, partygoers. The new Northeast-Division-plus-two-teams-from-Florida is a bit of a headscratcher geographically, on par with “why is Michigan one state even though it looks like two?”. The teams from Florida are pretty much like that Upper Peninsula, though, in that nobody cares/notices it’s there. I guess the idea is that Canadians/New Englanders go to Florida in the Wintertimes and will bolster ticket sales in Florida whenever their ‘home’ teams roll into town. Sounds kinda like some sort of hockey time-share or something. But that’s cool, cuz those things generally turn out well.
And then the other conference (which might be a suitable name for the group), well, they still have to travel a lot. Do you know how far Edmonton is from Phoenix? Well, that probably won’t matter in another season or two since Phoenix is still owner-less, which means they are literally one more ill-timed haboob away from being blown to Quebec, Kansas City, or, Seattle.
The biggest deal? Playoffs. No more 1-8 seed, San Jose/Nashville battles, folks, as the first round is going to be entirely intra-conference, which means some serious rivalry. So, in that Atlantic group, por ejemplo, you’re going to see Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and… well, just those teams, battle it out for the top two spots. Then those two teams are going to have to play in the first round. Which is gonna be brutal. Like the first scene of Saving Private Ryan (no, not the old man crying at the cemetery, dummy, the D-Day part) every other day for two weeks each Spring. I just threw my coffee mug at the wall and started screaming. Cuz this sounds awesome. What happens after that first round (other than more than a few amputations, I predict) is still up in the air. There are some weird scenarios floating out there and depending on what information comes back from the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN Laboratories in Switzerland, anything is possible.
There are some other questions that this Hockey Dogg is woofin’ about, though. What will these conferences be called? Can one be the “Prince of Smail” Conference? Puh-leez!? I know you read this, Bettman! Are there gonna be, like, four extra banners to raise up every year and more hats/shirts for douchebags to wear around proclaiming that their squad ‘won the conference’?
The NHL’s game of Conference Realignment/Hockey-Plinko is a responsible, adult decision, even if it seems like a big gamble. The Atlanta-Winnipeg move necessitated a change and with the looming relocation of Phoenix, the NHL needed something bigger, and more fiscally prescient, than just sliding the Red Wings to the Southeast Division. It ain’t nerfect, but pobody is. Time will ultimately tell if this shake-up/shake-down was worthwhile, but the return of Conference playoffs and guaranteed matchups between every NHL team are both harbingers of good hockey.
Huskey sez: This new format will be a boon for fans of the game, i.e. fans of any popular, large-market teams. They’ll get a lot of great, memorable hockey going on from October thru June. Party like it’s 1989, folks, cuz your doggz got a juicy bone tossed their way. Fans of teams in Florida, North Carolina, and other non-traditional markets (talk about some mythological creatures!) are in for more time spent outside the playoff bubble, but at least you can get to know your team even better… at the golf course.
If you thought cartography and hockey don’t go together then you are complete fucking idiot.
Below is a map of the new NHL realignment plan. T-bone and the Hockey Doggz also threw in their best suggestions for names of the new conferences. Let us know if you like them, Bettman.