With the NHL reviewing a potential realignment of divisions and conferences starting in the 2013-14 season, there has been much talk of how this would affect the league and its teams and players.
Based on the model making the rounds, the Sens would stay in what is currently called the Northeast Division with the addition of the Detroit Red Wings from the Western Conference's Central Division and both of the Florida teams — the Lightning and the Panthers.
At a passing glance, there will be some that aren't thrilled about the inclusion of Detroit who have been a powerhouse for the better part of 25 years now. With that in mind, the old cliché says "to be the best, you have to beat the best." If an up-and-coming team like the Sens is going to cut their teeth en route to becoming a Cup favourite, playing teams like Detroit and Boston however many times a year will aid that.
It also remains to be seen how long this structure will hold up. There have been rumblings of expansion across the league and the realignment plan is said to be up for review after the 2014-15 season which would be ample time to put new teams in place. Again, pure conjecture at this point, but certainly an interesting possibility for those who are wary of the new structure.
Sens Head Coach Paul MacLean was asked about the possibility of realignment and this is what he had to say...
It is what it is. We're still going to play 82 games, we play throughout the year, we're still in the Eastern Conference so it's not going to affect us, the travel is not going to affect us. We get the Red Wings now more so.. I'm not sure if there's a big competitive advantage or disadvantage. I'm just looking forward to being in the league and going to the games.
Coach more or less reaffirms what is clear on the surface for the Sens. The team itself isn't really impacted by realignment, and the brunt of their opponents will stay the same. Plus, adding a marquee franchise to the division with plenty of players to watch only opens new avenues for an exciting rivalry to develop for Sens fans.
All that fun stuff aside, I'm sure Coach MacLean won't mind the opportunity to beat his former employer a few times a year either.
Daniel Alfredsson is a bit more vocal about his feelings on the realignment and wishes that the shuffle could have found a way to spread the teams evenly between the conferences. Currently, there are more teams in the Eastern Conference than the Western Conference, which gives Western teams a higher probability of making the playoffs.
Here's what Alfie had to say...
I think they should have found a way to make it even, for both sides for competitive issues. I don’t think it’s fair that one side has a more favourable chance than the other side. That’s my personal opinion but there’s nothing we can do about it now.
That being said, he's excited to have the opportunity to play the Red Wings under the new system...
I love playing Detroit, it’s a great team, it’s a fun team to watch. I think our fans will enjoy seeing them a bit more than we have lately.
Hopefully the revision in 2014-15 can even out the odds and keep the teams fans want to see in the division.
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