With news coming late last night on the East Coast about the National Hockey League re-aligning their teams and conferences, Flyers players and coaches gave their impressions.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
WATCH: BRAYDON COBURN
WATCH: MAX TALBOT
WATCH: A CLOSER LOOK
WATCH: FORMAT DETAILS
WATCH: BOARD'S VOTE
WATCH: ABOUT THE PROCESS
WATCH: NHL NETWORK'S TAKE
THE FOUR CONFERENCES CONFERENCE (7 TEAMS)
PHI, NJ, PIT, NYI, NYR, WSH, CAR
CONFERENCE (7 TEAMS)
BOS, MTL, TOR, OTT, BUF, FLA, TBL
CONFERENCE (8 TEAMS)
DET, CBJ, NSH, STL,
CHI, MIN, DAL, WNPCONFERENCE (8 TEAMS)
LA, ANH, PHX, SJ,
VAN, CGY, EDM, COL
“It seems like kind of a neat idea and it’ll be different for sure,” said Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn
, who is the Flyers player representatives for the NHL’s Player Association.
Their new conference, named Conference D for now, will be the same teams as the Atlantic Division (PIT, NJ, NYR, NYI) with the same amount of games being played, but Flyers fans will get an additional look (home and away) of the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals.
The format will have the Flyers see every team twice and for Flyers fans, they will see every team in the NHL at least once, meaning yearly trips to Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose and the other West Coast teams that the Flyers have been infrequent guests and hosts to every other year in some cases.
The format will also see a much different race for the playoffs and Stanley Cup championship.
“I just saw it this morning and I didn’t know if it was final or not,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “I’m not sure what to think about it. I don’t mind [the travel]; the playoffs will be different, so that’s why I’m not sure yet.”
What fans can expect to see in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs is a clash of conference rivals through the first two rounds.
In each yet-to-be named conference, the top four teams in the standings will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs AND will face each other in rounds 1 and 2 in a (#1 vs. #4) and (#2 vs. #3).
In many ways it is a throw back to the old “Divisional” playoff series, before teams would play for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Final.
From 1974-75 through 1993 the Flyers played in the NHL’s Patrick Division, named after NHL-legend Lester Patrick, taking eight regular season division titles along the way, the most of any team in that division throughout the years.
They also prevailed in three playoff series to capture the Patrick Division title, moving onto the Wales Conference Finals, which included two memorable seven-game series against the NY Islanders, and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the late 80’s in which they prevailed in both.
Following the 1992-93 season, the NHL became the Eastern-Western Conference with geographical names (Atlantic, Northeast, Central, Pacific) for their divisions.
From there it gets a bit interesting and fans can play with the hypotheticals for the next 17 months.
The four winners of their conference would meet in the third round of the playoffs, with the two remaining teams vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
This essentially could mean that the Flyers could play teams from any other conference, such as the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and others for the Stanley Cup Title.
And vice-versa, the Flyers could be in the semi-final series playing the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and even the Edmonton Oilers.
Whatever the case turns out to be, the hockey won’t change. And if it does, the feeling is that most players and coaches expect it to be more heated and passionate than ever.
“I know from past experience that anytime you play a team in the playoffs, it just seems to breed bad blood,” added Coburn. “It just seems in that kind of a format you end of playing, some people in consecutive years in the playoffs and that will really conjure up some fierce rivalries.”