Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 07/08/13 at 02:19 PM ET
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?
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org