So I read an article where the author was excited about realignment because he thought it would be good to see the different styles of hockey played in each division again. I was not alive in the 80's so I am not really aware of what these styles were, and was wondering if someone could describe them
Been awhile since we've seen them play, and some may disagree, but here is what I remember:
Smythe: Run n' gun Western shootouts. Mainly because it was the Oilers division, so to win it, you have to be better at scoring than the Oilers. Made for some entertaining games.
Norris: Ah, the poor old Snorris division. Due to general ineptitude and mismanagement, it was easily the worst division in hockey. Worse than the Southleast. For fun, take a look at the list of worst teams to ever make the playoffs. Most of them played in the Norris. I remember the Leafs making it in with 57 points one year. Only because Minnesota was worse. Style included alot of nuclear deterrents on each time, and a regular line brawl in division games. And crappy goaltending.
Adams: It was home to some of the smallest arenas in hockey at the time. The Aud in Buffalo, the old Boston Gardens. I think Hartford's ice was a bit smallish too. Made for tight division. Strong defensive games from everyone in the division. If a team was having trouble playing two ways one year, they got left in the dust. That and Habs vs. Nords, Bruins vs. Sabres, Bruins vs. Whalers, Habs vs. Sabres...some real blood fueds.
Patrick: An argument could be made that it was the best division in hockey. Islanders, Flyers, Capitals, sometimes the Penguins, usually the Rangers. Only real patsy in the division was the Devils. Real good hockey and some real long standing grudges. The Patrick teams could play both ways. Some real scoring stars and some real good defences.
Smythe: All-Out offense, as the teams tried to keep up with the Oilers (and failed). The Flames and occasionally the Jets would somewhat challenge the Oilers, while the Kings and ‘Nucks were generally pathetic.
Norris: ...God, easily the worst division in the league. Hard to argue that any team from the division would have been top-10 in the league in most seasons. The Hawks had their moments (Savard was a joy to watch), but that’s pretty much it. Generally speaking, the teams were all terrible. As an example, between 81/82 and 88/89, only 1 season saw 3 teams with a .500 or above record, while 86-87 saw NO teams finishing at or above .500. And teams played the other teams in their division 8 times!
Adams: As said above, the was the tightest division for defensive play in the league. The Whale were pretty bad to start the decade, but the Habs, Bruins, Nords and Sabres were all very solid teams. By the end of the decade, the Nords were a joke of a franchise, but the Whale did pick up some of that slack. Put it this way, in the crazy, high scoring 80’s, you could compete in this division without a plethora of PPG players.
Patrick: Best division in the league. Always had at least 4, sometimes even 6 good/great teams. Obviously the Isles and Flyers were a class above, while the Caps would be 3rd, and the Rangers next. The Pens once they got Lemieux were unfortunate to be stuck where they were (put them in the Norris, and they probably win the division crown from 86 on). The Devils until the end of the decade were a joke, or if you like, a Mickey Mouse franchise, but again, they played half their schedule against other Patrick Division foes. Put them in the Norris? Probably make the playoffs a few times.