The NHL's Board or Governors voted on Thursday to approve the new realignment scheme that gets the Winnipeg Jets out of the Southeast Division to save on travel, and gets the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets out of the Western Conference for the same reason. I've mentioned before how this shakes up some really great rivalries, but it does more than that. It just makes life confusing and unpleasant for everyone involved, including the fans.
Look at what we have to learn: math! From Puck Daddy, here's the breakdown of who we'll see and when we'll see them:
Western Conference (7-Team Divisions)
Within Conference (Division): 29 games
* 5 games vs. five teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. two teams, 2 Home/3 Away vs.
three teams) AND 4 games vs. one team (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a
* 5 X 5 =25 games
* 1 X 4 = 4 games
Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games
* 3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs.
three teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 3 X 7 = 21 games
Non-Conference: 32 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 16 = 32 games
(Exception: one team from each division plays one less game inside Division
and one more game inside Conference outside Division)
That read like a 3rd grade multiplication table to me, but then again, I'm afraid of numbers because I'm a girl and a history person.
You think that's confusing? Here. Have the playoff format:
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.
That silence you heard? That's the reaction of every casual fan after you explain this stuff to them. For a league that seems soooooo fixated on catering to Joe Not A Fan, the league sure does like to try to make things as complicated as they can.
Something that surprises me is that you haven't really heard an outcry from the purists out there. The addition of the wild card to MLB freaked them out, and the addition of the additional wild card went over like a lead balloon. I'm glad the Cards benefited from it and all, but seriously. It was cheap.
So, what say you guys? Yay on the new playoff setup and regular season schedule, or do you just wish that they'd flip Winnipeg and Columbus and get it over with?