The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 12/06/11 at 12:06 PM ET
Under the NHL’s realignment plan, what would be the worst nightmare scenario for the Sabres?
Actually, it’s already happened.
Intradivisional playoffs were in place from 1982-1993, and there are reasons why the scheme was discontinued.
The most unfortunate sequence of events with this format that I can remember as a Sabres fan took place in the 1989-90 season. A young John Tortorella was the assistant head coach to Rick Dudley, Mike Foligno was captain, and a couple of kids named Alexander Mogilny and Rob Ray rode into the NHL courtesy of a vapor trail and a pair of fists, respectively.
Some fans and media at the time said Buffalo ran into some bad luck, some said you win with the cards you’re dealt. Either way, it didn’t work out very well for the Sabres.
Boston, Buffalo and Montreal had three of the top four records in the entire league. The problem was that, being that these very strong teams were all in the same division, they had to butt heads in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
So, after a stellar regular season capped by 40-goal campaigns from Pierre Turgeon and Dave Andreychuk, the Sabres had the third-highest point total in the NHL but had to face the team with the fourth-most points in the league in the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs won in six games.
One of the best things about having to play your way out of your
conference is that it seems like you get to face the same playoff opponents every year. One of the worst things about it is that it seems like you have to face the same playoff opponents every year. Rivalries and travel cost reductions take priority over fairness.
It’s a sure bet that this structure will bring about more complaints from fans and media of stronger teams that miss the playoffs or get early unfavorable matchups. History proves it.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]