Monday, November 28, 2005

Bring On The West, Already

It has indeed been a Tale of Two Leagues through the first quarter of the season. Who can say how much this incestuous inter-divisional play is contributing to a false sense of security on the part of certain clubs? So it is with great anticipation that the first week of December will kick off with a series of inter-conference matchups. Ottawa visits Vancouver on December 9th (why, yes that is the exact date of the annual office Christmas party, thanks!) and follows up with meetings in Calgary and Colorado within the next three days. Unfortunately, any Ottawa-Detroit matchup will have to wait until late next spring.

This year the Northeast (featuring half the Canadian teams and half the Original Six) will visit the Northwest while the Pacific division will visit the Northeast. The three year cycle will see each division visit an opposing conference division once and host them once.

I earlier predicted that the new schedule would grow tiresome. I mean, if the Canucks can't even get up for the Avalanche, then it appears the intent of manufacturing rivalries and cranking up regular season intensity has created the exact opposite effect. Letter writers to the Province over the weekend were less than enthusiastic about this season's program (you mean we're getting the Wild again? hooray!). While season ticket holders tend to be perennial cranks (the music is too loud, the hotdogs are too expensive, etc.), I'd agree with them here in that the only time you need to see the same team more than once a month is during the playoffs.

Don't get me wrong: repeatedly bloodying the noses of division rivals can be satisfying and a few more rounds with the Flyers, Canes and Rangers are in order before getting too cocky over here, but don't you find even the Leafs-Sens / Leafs-Habs battles lose just a little bit of their premium when overdone?


  1. Especially when physical play and intensity are ruined by needless penalties.

  2. I agree - I get bored seeing the same team over and over again. 6 times is enough for division rivals.

    Anything more than that is overkill.

  3. They need to get rid of this schedule. I think a lot of the teams in the East would have trouble with some teams in the West.

    They've always had different styles of hockey in the East and West Conferences, that's why I always liked it.

  4. As to whether the East would have trouble with the West, I don't think anybody really has any clear idea. The next little while is going to be *awesome*, as each team gets to really develop their identity.

    I think when Brad May joined the Avalanche, it pretty much spoiled the developing Canucks/Avalanche rivalry. I believe it's going to take a lot more than a half-dozen games to build rivalries in the 2005 NHL.

    It's funny. I certainly would love to see more East/West matchups in the NHL, but I was disappointed when MLB allowed AL/NL games. I can't figure out why I have contradicting opinions on this topic......

    Here's hoping the 'bad' Theodore shows up tonight.....

  5. I think they'll change it back eventually...

    While it was said that the new schedule was introduced to create better rivalries, I think it was actually done to minimize travel expenses in a season where no one really new how much the revenues would be.

    Can you imagine being a fan in a city with a western conference team and not getting to see Crosby/Ovechin/Stall/Spezza...
    They should be trying to showcase these guys across the league.

    Even worse, can you imagine how upset they'll be when they don't get to see the Leafs play!!! What a nightmare!!!

  6. On the plus side, you get to really really know your opponents, even if you only track your own team.

    Especially for incidental fans or yeah, fans in the lower states, this might be a good thing if you're trying to keep the game alive.

    Of course the unbalanced nature of the league right now might make it less interesting, but hopefully that'll peter out. God knows every bar I go to in Ottawa (and I go to a LOT of bars) is still packed for most of these games.

    But yeah, the same team losing the same way can get redundant. Especially if you check a blog that has the same comments over and over again e.g. "I love how excited the Sens fans get during the regular season just to watch them choke against the Leafs in the playoffs."

    Ok. It's a good point. Can we please move on?