Conference Craziness!

DC Sports Nexus ---- Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NHL's Random Divisions:

When I started watching hockey this year, I noticed something that struck me as odd. The Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets were in the same division. I soon found out that Winnipeg had moved from Atlanta and that the NHL didn't have time to make any conference changes. But how bad could it be? The Boston Red Sox are in the same division as the Tampa Bay Rays in baseball and that isn't so terrible.

Then I looked at a map...Did you know that Winnipeg is north of North Dakota! That makes it farther than North Freaking Dakota! It is over a 2,000 mile trip when the Panthers play their "division rival" the Winnipeg Jets which is twice as far as the trip from Tampa to Boston. With that distance you better have time to make conference changes. Those two teams in the same division not only doesn't make sense but it actually made an adult think that Winnipeg was right next to Toronto. Luckily I'm no longer in any Geography Bees.

NHL's Fix:

Instead of doing the simple thing and just trading Winnipeg to the West for a Detroit, the NHL went crazy and shook up the entire league. Now instead of 2 conferences with 3 divisions, there are 4 conferences, and no they aren't the North, South, East, & West.

From the league that brought you the Prince of Wales & Clarence Campbell Conferences comes a new, super creative naming scheme reminiscent of the Cat in the Hat. Instead of having Thing 1 and Thing 2, we now have Conference A, Conference B, Conference C, and Conference D. Those crazy Conferences are always up to no good and mischief!

Did Divisions Matter: the MLB and the NFL. In those leagues if you win your division, you make the playoffs. If you don't win the division you have 1-2 one outers to get in. Those 2 sports have real division rivalries. You better win your division or you could have a great record and still miss the playoffs.

The NBA and NHL are not the same. Everyone makes the playoffs (more than 50%). In those sports the divisions are for scheduling purposes and possibly playoff seeding, I don't even really know the point.

The rivalries in these sports are determined by history, not really division (although sometimes that effects the rivalries, more so in hockey) Are there really Southeast division rivalries? The Caps biggest rivals are the Penguins, who aren't in the division.

Conferences are what mattered in those 2 sports. Finish in the top 8 in the conference, who cares what division you are in...

Do New Conferences Matter:

It appears that in the NHL they will now...Kind of. The playoffs are going to be based on the top 4 teams in each conference instead of the top 8 teams in the East/West. Now there is much more incentive for teams to win these games, although still not as much as baseball/football. These new conferences could also develop some new rivalries over time, which could be interesting going forward.

All in all it is just a microcosm of what it previously was. Instead of 16 teams fighting for 8 slots it is now 7 or 8 teams fighting for 4.

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