Clearly, I was five minutes late and a dollar short when I made my post a bit ago. I didn’t know the deal was done with realignment because I was too focused on writing, and not reading Twitter. I’m going to leave that one as it is, because it was more of an analysis about last season and the four division format of the AHL of the past.
So Charlotte is a member of the Midwest Division, in the Western Conference. It’s a bit ironic, because we are nowhere close to the Midwest, and certainly not what I’d consider “west”, but if we had to move conferences, I think I like this better than being with the Texas teams. Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to be drastically different being in a group of teams that includes Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Milwaukee (Check out the Admirals Roundtable, a FANTASTIC blog), then it was facing Adirondak, Albany, Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre, Hershey and Syracuse. All of the new Midwest teams are close together (no more than about 3 hours or so apart), so the travel there may even be better than what we had this season. We were still flying to most Eastern cities and busing around, and now we get to go to larger markets in NBA caliber arenas, as opposed to small towns like Binghamton and Glen Falls, New York.
The key to this realignment is going to be what the AHL decides to do with the schedule. I HOPE they don’t try and force the NHL format onto the AHL, because playing the majority of our games in the West would be a bummer, but if we can get the Rochester treatment where we play lots of teams in our division, but can still have Eastern Conference road trips, I think we’re going to be ok. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Rochester only played 40 games in their own conference last year, all of which were against their own division, and their other 40 games were against teams in the East that were closer to them than Texas or Oklahoma.
The AHL Board of Governors also announced a change to the playoff format that mimics the NHL with the top three seeds getting guaranteed playoff berths, and the remaining five spots going to the next highest teams in points, regardless of division. (The first round will be a best of five series, which I still vehemently oppose).
It’s going to take some time to sink in, but I think this could be an ok thing…. as long as the schedule (that I’m even MORE anxious for!) is fair to all parties involved.