It’s not often that I blog about hockey, but I have to give some love to the National Hockey League over what transpired last night.
The NHL’s Board of Governors agreed to allow commissioner Gary Bettman to realign the teams into four conferences – that’s right, FOUR conferences – for the 2012-2013 NHL season. Teams in each conference will be realigned based on geography. There will be two conferences with seven teams apiece, two with eight.
Teams will play each other in their divisions six times, and those from other conferences twice (home and home). Come playoff time only the top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, with the first two rounds consisting of solely intraconference matchups.
To see what teams will be grouped together, go here.
This is an awesome idea on a variety of levels.
First of all, this will be a shout to the old days of the NHL before the Eastern and Western Conference alignments (which was the worst idea ever). Anyone remember the Adams, Patrick, Norris, and Wales Divisions? It will be a lot like that, especially come playoff time when division opponents have to play each other in opening rounds.
Now if the make the first round a best of five series, then it would be all good.
Second, this would intensify existing rivalries and create new ones. You gotta love having Pittsburgh, Philly and Washington in the same group. And Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis in the same group. And Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Buffalo in the same group. And Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver in the same group.
You get the point.
However, it will be cool to see how the local Carolina Hurricanes thrive in the Pittsburgh-Philly-Washington grouping. Ditto for Tampa Bay with Boston, Toronto and Montreal. Interesting and fun times ahead…
Third, and most important, this will create excitement and buzz the NHL sorely needs. All of the aforementioned changes should generate more fan interest and bring the old-heads back to the NHL with the old playoff formatting and rekindling of rivalries.
I have to hand it to Commish Bettman – he actually got it right for a change. Now if he could negotiate a package for more games on NBC and Fox (screw ESPN), then the NHL would really be rolling…