Have you ever decided to tackle a small project, and before you know it, the word small no longer applied?

Maybe you were going to tighten that loose handle on your kitchen cabinet, clean out the gutters, or touch up that scratch on your car. Before you even know what happened, you have replaced all the cabinets in the kitchen, put new singles on the roof, and that scratch…well it’s someone else’s problem becasue you sold that car and bought a new one.

That is pretty much what the NHL did with their realignment last night. When Atlanta moved to Winnipeg, we knew there would be some movement. Most thought it would involve 1 or 2 teams, then suddenly the league revamped its entire regular season and playoff format.

Breaks down like this: 4 conferences. Teams will play teams in their own conference either 5 or 6 times, and every other team twice (once at home, once on the road). Top 4 teams in each conference make the playoffs (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3)  Once they get down to the final four teams, well, that hasn’t been decided yet. Here are the conferences:

Upon hearing the news, here are the thoughts and questions that popped into my head…

1) More possibilities of a cool final

As long as they don’t have decide to make a “phantom” east and west (A+B= West, C+D=East) ,  and instead do a re-seed when four teams are left, we could see many new possibilities. Pittsburgh vs Boston would be cool, so would Detroit vs San Jose. (Crazy idea alert: How about when you get to the final four, whoever had the most points in the regular season gets to choose their semi final opponent?)

2) Remember the things we hated when the league used to have divisional playoffs, well, we will probably hate them again.

Basically, a 4th seed in a weak conference could make the playoffs over a 5 seed in a strong one that has a lot more points. As @thescoreticker pointed out: In 85-86 the 5th place Sabres missed playoffs with 80 pts in Adams division. Canucks, Jets & Leafs made it with 59, 59 and 57 pts. Gross.

3) They are meeting already?

If the top two teams in the NHL are in the same conference, they could meet in  the second round. Under the present format, the earliest they would meet would be in the conference finals.

4) Let the naming begin

What will the 4 conferences be called?  I’ve heard people wanting Gretzky, Howe, Orr, and Lemieux. Meh. How can you not consider: Norris, Smythe, Adams and Patrick?

5) The title “Conference Champions” just lost a whole bunch of weight

Right now there are only two conference champions every year, with 4 is it that much of an accomplishment anymore? It’s kind of like the present “division champion” title. Accomplishment: Yes. Reason to delay the start of a  game 20 minutes while a banner gets raised to questionably inspirational music: no thanks.

6) If you like rivalries, you should love this

There is a very good chance that two teams will meet in the playoffs in 3…4…5…6 years in a row. Rivalries will be not only renewed, but born.

All in all I don’t mind the change. I’m just not a huge fan of divisional playoffs. Also lets not forget that the NHLPA must sign off on this, but that looks to be just a formality.

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Lets head to the links

In case you are into self torture, here is Gary Bettman bobbling his head while explaining the realignment (NHL)

Joe Yerdon from Pro Hockey Talk thinks that this realignment should force another change in the NHL (I completely agree)

Who are the winners and losers as far as travel miles go? (Puck Daddy)

As a Red Wing Fan, I like the realignment, you know who else likes it? The Red Wings

Jonas Hiller to the principals office please…(OC Register)

Doesn’t look like Valtteri Filppula will miss any time (The Detroit News)

Neither will Paul Stastny (Denver post)

27 games into the season and the words “Kessel” and “Hart” are still being used the same sentence. I would argue if I could.  (Spector’s Hockey)

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun got Leaf fans all riled up last night

And le’ts end with a massive hit last night by Dion Phaneuf