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07-14-2011, 10:19 PM
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So, with all this speculation and what not swirling around about the return to 4 divisions and divisional playoffs, and the big emphasis on rivalry, I had a couple thoughts cross my mind. Now keep in mind this is pretty much all just throwing random thoughts on the floor, I have no illusions that the league will ever do any of this.

What generated rivalries way back in the day was how you would see your rivals like 8 or more times a year, right? Well, right now we only see our divisional rivals 6 times a year, and we will under this new structure as well, at least that's what the rumors have said. If we really want rivalries to get potent, somehow we need to increase the competition within the divisions. Increase division infighting, if you will.

So why are we going for bigger divisions then, where you have to play your rivals more times per year in order to really, really hate them by the time you get to the playoffs. Why dont we go for 8 divisions of 4 (adding two expansion teams to bring it up to 32), instead of 4 divisions of 7-8?

Lets look at the math. If we assume one home and one away game for every non-divisional team, and since there would be 28 teams not in the same division, that's 56 non-division games, leaving 26 for divisional games. 26 divided by 3 is 8 with remainder two, so you would play each of your 3 divisional rivals 8 times with two games leftover. These games can either be rotated among the divisional members (I.E, you play team's A and B 9 times, and team C 8 times, rotating home and away games to make it even across seasons), or, what I would like to see, a scheduled home and home partner. Each team would pick another team for these bonus two games. It could be a divisional rival to make it an even 10 game hate series, or another team outside the division that you want to see a total of four times a year.

The way I would have in mind for playoffs would be each division would have the top two teams fight for the division championship in the first round of the playoffs. Then in the second round, you would be seeded by division. What I mean by that is that each divisions inter-divisional record would be tracked to come up with a sort of divisional strength record. 56 inter divisional games times 4 teams equals 224 games that count toward that record. At the end of the season the divisions would be ranked 1-8, best record in interdivisional play to worst. In the second round, the champion of the top division would play the champion of the worst division. Home ice would be based on the divisional seed number. So if a team comes out of the divisional round and is the best of a really, really bad division, they face off against the best of the best division in the league.

So with that wild idea in mind, lets pull the divisions out of our ass. to do that first we have to pull some team movements and expansions out of there too. So lets say Phoenix moves to Kansas City(KC), where theyve got an arena already built. Lets also say Quebec City(QC) and Seattle(Sea) get expansion teams.

Since the playoffs are seeded divisionally 1-8, and everyone plays a balanced schedule interdivisionally more or less, there are now no such things as conferences, just the divisions. So lets start:

Northwest: Van, Sea, Edm, Cgy
Pacific: SJ, LA, Ana, Col
North: Win, Min, Chi, Det
South: KC, Dal, Nsh, StL
Northeast: QC, Mtl, Ott, Tor
Central: Cbj, Pit, Phi, Buf
Atlantic: Bos, NYI, NYR, NJ
Southeast: Wsh, Car, TB, Fla

Yeah, never gonna happen. But this was supposed to be a fun thought exercise anyway and not more stuff that you actually hope for and then end up disappointed when it doesn't happen.

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