Tuesday, December 06, 2011

NHL REALIGNMENT IS TOO RADICAL FOR MY LIKING

On the heels of the BCS decision-making comes more crazy-slash-stupid decisions from the powers that be in the sports world.

As has been much-rumored or feared, the NHL went ahead and approved radical realignment today. They are scrapping the two conferences with three divisions each, and will now go to four conferences with no divisions at all. For more on the realignment, here's the release here.

Now for my own thoughts. This is really, really unnecessary and quite a bizarre-looking setup, especially compared to the other sports leagues who still have three or four divisions within two conferences. I know the NHL had to move the Winnipeg Jets out of the Southeast, but all they had to do was simply move the Jets to the Central and the Nashville Predators to the Southeast to take their place. They didn't have to go ahead with this craziness, moving teams all over the place and blowing up the divisions and conferences.

I also know there were these travel and scheduling concerns of various teams, but I think these could all have been addressed while keeping the current division format. You could have moved Dallas out of the Pacific to the Central, for example, or even the Southeast, and moved Colorado to the Pacific. 

But instead, this league went and blew the whole thing up. Now we have four conferences and they make little sense, with these southern teams all over the place. These don't even have the same number of teams, these conferences -- two have seven teams and two have eight. This isn't realignment like what the NFL did when they went from six to eight divisions. At least those divisions made sense in how they were set up. This NHL setup, though, is just nuts. Four conferences, not two? Really?!

It's crazy stuff like this that is the reason why the NHL isn't more popular in the USA. The league does this kind of realigning over and over again, and they keep on moving teams around and messing things up. First they had the six-team league, and then when they expanded to 12 teams they split them into two divisions. Then, when they expanded to 18 teams, they split them into the Campbells and the Wales and divided them into four divisions --- but instead of having the conference champions face each other in the end, they had a crazy playoff format which simply ranked all 12 teams and had them play off for the Stanley Cup. Then came the merger with the WHA, so they moved some teams again, and this time ranked the teams 1 to 16 for the playoffs! Then in 1982 they finally got around to ranking teams 1-through-4 in the divisions and had them play off, with the divisional winners meeting for the conference title and the two conference champions eventually  facing for the Stanley Cup.

Then after a number of years they changed it to 1-through-8 in the conferences, and then after that they split the league into six divisions and moved the teams around again so that Montreal and Toronto could finally be in the same division, while the southern teams could be in their own division, too. Somewhere along the line they also got rid of the Campbells and the Wales conferences and called them the Western and Eastern Conferences, but kept on awarding Campbell and Wales trophies to the conference champions and well, anyway -- now they're blowing it up again and moving to four conferences, and who knows what they will be named.

I heard they might be called the Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr and Howe Conferences. That is too hilarious. We'll probably even see these four guys handing the winning teams their trophies in the playoffs!

I'm sorry, but this kind of realignment insanity is exactly the reason why people in the United States don't take the NHL seriously. The league had a good thing going with the division alignment they already had, and didn't have to shake up things. You just watch. This new format is going to land with a thud with the public.     

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