Liz Levey, ‘Doah Staff Writer
October 2, 2013
When the trees begin to turn different colors and the winds start to change, it means fall has arrived. That means only one thing: a new NHL season is here. New is the key word. Over the summer, the NHL revamped the league. They have realigned the league with new divisions, a new playoff format, more rivalries and a host of outdoor games.
The NHL is coming off of a thrilling Stanley Cup Final that generated the best TV numbers in the league’s history. The outlook is certainly far brighter than it was at this time last year when the NHL was in the midst of its third lockout since 1995. If anyone is confused about the changes, here is a breakdown of everything new.
First is the realigned league. The idea behind the new format is focused on geographic purposes. They carried over three out of the four division names while adding a new one into the mix. The four divisions are Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific. The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions make up the Eastern Conference with each division having eight teams. The Central and Pacific divisions make up the Western Conference with seven teams in each division. The 2013-2014 schedule ensures that all 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once during the season.
Here is the breakdown of each division. See where your team turned up.
The Atlantic Division teams are: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Red Wings have moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern.
The Metropolitan Division includes the three New York-area teams — New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils — along with the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets join the Red Wings in the move east.
The new Central Division in the Western Conference includes the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are moving from the Eastern Conference to the Western.
The new Pacific Division includes the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The second change is the playoffs. The Stanley Cup playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight from each conference, but it will be division-based and have a wild-card system. The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four places will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference (regardless of division) based on regular-season points. Ironically, it is possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason. The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined by regular-season points.
Picture the perfect scene for ice hockey: outside with a brisk chill in the air. The idea of NHL hockey outdoors is no longer a once a year event as this year there will be six games. Some may say that the NHL is watering down these events by having so many that the value of the event will diminish. But in a recent NHL article on NHL.com, Commissioner Gary Bettman says he is giving the fans what they want.
The Stadium Series follows:
1. Jan. 1: Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs.
2. Jan. 25: Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Kings vs. Ducks.
3. Jan. 26: Yankee Stadium in New York, Rangers vs. Devils.
4. Jan. 29: Yankee Stadium in New York, Rangers vs. Islanders.
5. Mar. 1: Soldier Field in Chicago, Penguins vs. Blackhawks.
6. Mar. 2: BC Place in Vancouver, Senators vs. Canucks.
This season is going to be an interesting one with a whole new system. We will see how the new league dynamic plays out in the end. If you have ever wanted to start watching hockey, this is the season to do it. The puck drops across the country in Montreal on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7:00 p.m. as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Canadiens. The fans are ready, the players are ready, lets do it.