Take a look, hockey fans. These will be the new divisions starting fall of 2013. The NHL will see how the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons go, then will re-evaluate how this new system is working for the league.
Here is what the new divisions will look like:
Here are the playoff rules,explained by Dan Rosen of NHL.com
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added as a new wrinkle.
The top three teams in each division will make-up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lowest number of points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for the divisional championship.
I personally think these new divisions are stupid. First off, the Eastern Conference is already at a disadvantage, having two more teams than the West! Due to the unbalances of the conferences, this is where the NHL proposed the “wild card” element described above. Regardless, why not keep the East and West at 15 teams each?! This new proposal looks like the league had no idea what they wanted to do with the Columbus Blue Jackets, putting them in the division D, which is basically the Atlantic division. I mean, I guess 600 miles from Columbus to the Atlantic constitutes putting the team there. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the Florida Panthers in the Atlantic instead, and put the Jackets in what used to be the southeast division?
These divisions make it easier for teams to make the playoffs out of the Western conference, because again, there are only 14 teams to deal with instead of 16. This unbalance is just stupid in my opinion, and again shows how poorly run this league is. The MLB just got it right by moving the Houston Astros out of the NL central (which had 6 teams) to the AL West (a division only with 4 teams). Many fans always thought it was unfair that teams like the Texas Rangers, for example, only have to beat out three other teams to win their division, whereas the St. Louis Cardinals would have to beat FIVE teams just to win their division. Baseball finally got it right by balancing out the divisions, and the NHL is taking what were balanced divisions, and just lazily clumping teams together. Unless the NHL has some plan to incorporate two new NHL teams over the next few seasons, this unbalance is garbage!
If I were an original Eastern conference team, I would be furious at this realignment. Basically, the path to the Cup is easier for the West, its that simple. 14 teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West as opposed to 16 in the East. I don’t understand how the NHLPA agreed to this proposal. I understand how this proposal eases the burden of travel on teams like the Winnipeg Jets, but it still makes travel difficult for the Florida teams.
Want to know my simple realignment proposal? Swap out the Winnipeg Jets with the Nashville Predators. The Preds would play in the Southeast division (you know, where Tennessee is located) and the Jets would be in the Central division in the West.
Look at this map! The divisions were thought out to accomodate teams like the Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Jets. Yet, look at the teams in Florida! They still have to fly through “Division D” just to play their own rivals in “Division C”!