Someone forgot to bring Boggle to the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting because they were definitely in mood to do some shaking-up.
Earlier this week the NHL B.O.G. approved a new league re-alignment that would see the league’s 30 teams divided up into four conferences, replacing the current format of two-conferences, six-divisions.
The Winnipeg Jets, whose move from Atlanta started the ball rolling on league realignment talks, have been placed in a yet-to-be-named central conference along with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville and St. Louis.
I am a fan of the NHL’s shake-up and the playoff format that comes with it. The new quad-conference set-up has teams playing two playoff rounds within the division to determine the conference champion and Stanley Cup semi-finalist. This setup, reminiscent of the old pre-1993 Campbell/Wales conference, creates rivalries exactly where the rivalries have always been made: the playoffs.
At first glance (and second and third glance) I find our division ‘boring’. I’m not too excited about playing Nashville, Columbus, Minnesota and Dallas so many times a year, but I’m sure after a couple playoff series I’ll
hate those teams with a passion.
Most would look at Detroit and Chicago and groan, thinking that it’ll be a tall task to get by them in the playoffs, let alone trying to finish above them in the standings. However, I believe this is a big advantage for a team in the Jets’ situation. The Jets are a team crafting a new identity in a new city; an organization aiming to develop a culture of winning. Knowing that your team has to get by the Red Wings or Blackhawks if you want to play for the ultimate prize forces you to build and design your team to beat Detroit and Chicago; that’s an excellent blueprint for success.
The other bonus of the new league alignment is that Winnipeggers will get to see every team, every year. Under the new setup, teams will play every team outside their conference twice a season; home and away. That means Montreal, Toronto, Boston and Pittsburgh will be making annual visits to the MTS Centre, while the Jets will continue to grow into a team that fans outside their division will be excited to see visit their cities annually.
Hopefully at the next BOG meeting someone will forget to bring Monopoly and they’ll instead have to tell Phoenix to not pass Go, not collect $200 and go directly to Quebec City.
For thoughts on the Winnipeg Jets, the NHL and things irreverent follow me on Twitter: @davec4pone