Still not convinced after such a solid argument? Then let’s get into detail.
As the first to post my thoughts of the realignment on BoltsByTheBay.com, it’s necessary to first explain what exactly happened and what this shuffle means on a general level. The realignment simply cut the East and West conferences into two each and are simply referred to (for now) as A,B,C, and D. A and B consist of eight teams each while C and D consist of seven. Teams such as the Detroit Red Wings have been asking for conference changes for years and this realignment became an absolute necessity ones the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. The main things that this realignment improves are geographical proximity and convenience as well as rivalries.
26 teams in the NHL voted in favour of this change.And now here we are. For this reporter, the realignment gives fans two things to be thankful for.
First is geography. There are sub-categories of how the realignment helps. The first is obvious – using the Detroit Red Wings as an example, teams aren’t travelling as much and playing as late. The fans can now watch their teams play within their own time zones. Simply put: fans can watch their teams. Added to this, sluggish play due to consistent travel will dwindle. Players can be expected to put on even greater performances on a regular basis because they have the opportunity to be better rested.
Speaking of fans being able to watch their teams more conveniently, the realignment also helps fans from one city who cheer for a team from another city to see their team(s). I’ll use myself as an example – I cheer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators, but here I am stuck in Toronto. The realignment will improve the scheduling so that every team will play in every areana at least once a season. That gurantees me that the Bolts will be in Toronto every year. This is a huge improvement as not everyone cheers for the city they reside in. On top of this, out-of-conference teams will play each other at least twice – once and home and once on the road – allowing fans to see these games televised as well. Everyone gets to see their team more often!
The second major aspect that the realignment helps: rivalries. Obviously, this means a lot of old rivalries will come back with force but the four-conference layout also provides fodder for new rivalries to establish themselves. This is because throughout the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, teams will play the majority of their games against inter-conference teams. Here are some examples of what fans will get to see more of: Edmonton and Calgary in conference A, Nashville and Detroit in conference B, Boston and Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa in conference C, and Washington and Pttsburgh in conference D. These rivalries give the fans what they want which in turn increases ratings and ticket sales and help the business that is the NHL.
Sure, there are still kinks. The playoff system, which says “the top four teams in each conference will play one another in the first two rounds of the playoffs, with the winner of each of these mini-tournaments advancing to the Stanley Cup semifinals” still seems a little confusing and off, but overall, this overhaul was needed. It would not have the approval of 26 out of 30 teams if there was no hope in the new system.
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