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ESPN’s Burnside begins a series of articles about the 13-14 with a discussion about realignment

Normally I'd post this in TMR, but if the boss doesn't mind (hopefully), but ESPN's Scott Burnside is preparing fans for the 2013-2014 season--though a couple dozen free agents have yet to find home, the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2013 induction class announcement will take place tomorrow at 3 PM EDT, and the NHL's schedule (and, presumably, its conference names and post-Conference Final playoff format) will be released on July 17th.

Burnside will spend this week discussing realingment, player personnel changes, the six-game slate of outdoor games, the 13-14 rookie class and financial issues facing the NHL (hey, now is as good a time as any to help fans turn the page and prepare for a new hockey year).

Today's article is all about realignment and especially the stacked Northeast Division:

Only when the free-agency period started and you began to see how teams were taking shape -- or, rather, reshaping -- did it become clear how different the landscape is going to look with the new four-division, two-conference format.

Specifically, will there be a more difficult division -- at least on paper -- than the one containing the old Northeast Division, plus the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers thrown in for good measure?

If you assume the Red Wings and Boston Bruins are playoff-worthy, that leaves a mighty tight race for the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators -- all three of which were playoff teams this past season and are much improved. And Tampa has to bounce back at some point.

We're also curious about the redrawing of the divisions along more geographic lines and whether that will give teams some breaks, not only in terms of travel but also in increased interest in markets such as Columbus and Dallas, where fans won't face as many out-of-time-zone games moving forward.

Will that result in a television ratings spike? Better attendance at home with more geographically friendly rivals? Will teams such as the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, whose home games against Detroit always packed a little different punch, miss the Red Wings?

He continues...

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Primis's avatar

Nashville, St. Louis, and Columbus will all miss the Wings.  So will CHI, who was always far more obsessed with DET than DET was with them.  So wil DAL, PHX, ANA, and COL.

Columbus will now have PIT though, which will help.  At least until everyone falls off the PIT bandwagon again.

There is no perfect way to align a 30-team league

Honestly, there was.  The league could have told CBS (Columbus) to go f*** themselves and gone 15-a-side.  I don’t know why the league felt they “owed” the Jackets anything, Columbus sure hasn’t contributed anything to the league or game over their entire existence.

Posted by Primis on 07/08/13 at 03:27 PM ET

ClintonVerley's avatar

That “article” was lame. I kept trying to find the “next page” button, couldn’t believe it was that short.

Posted by ClintonVerley from Auburn Hills, MI on 07/08/13 at 03:44 PM ET

TheFreak's avatar

The league could have told CBS (Columbus) to go f*** themselves and gone 15-a-side.

Maybe the NHL is secretly planning for Columbus not being around too much longer and in order to save that spot in the Eastern conference when they move to another local. Or they just wanted to give the Penguins an easy opponent.

Posted by TheFreak on 07/08/13 at 04:41 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

CBJ was moved to the East because like Detroit, they have long suffered the unique injustice of traveling over 25-35 time zones during each playoff season.

Come to think of it, their four career history playoff games were all in the eastern time zone against Detroit, which makes Detroit’s annual playoff ritual of flying the equivalent of around the world’s time zones uniquely unjust.

The appropriate answer to CBJ to stay in the Western Conference that unlike Detroit, you have zero historical rivals in the east, and you never make the playoffs anyway, was too politically incorrect so rather than face that, it was easier to stack the odds against everyone in the east a little bit more, while makng it easier in the west to make the playoffs where many franchises struggle to generate fan interest as it is.

Posted by RWBill on 07/08/13 at 04:58 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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