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Thursday's notes: The NHL should go back to the 80's

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Division & conference realignment is one of those topics which sends people off in all sorts of wild directions, and while it sounds more and more like nothing will happen in time for the 2011-12 NHL season, that just leaves months & months for this issue to percolate in the background. Should the league simply make a tweak here and there to resolve particularly sore spots, like Dallas' presence in the Pacific Division, or should it undertake something more fundamental and profound?

This morning while walking my dogs I was listening to last night's Slap Shot Radio broadcast (podcasts available here), and I was stunned to hear Mike Santos (formerly part of the Preds front office, now assistant GM of the Florida Panthers) say that he is pushing a proposal which I've been backing for years - a return to a 4-division format, and going back to the 80's style playoffs where you had to play your way out of your division in the first two rounds (1st in the division vs. 4th, 2nd vs. 3rd in the first round, etc.). The current 1-8 conference format is lifeless, and does nothing to foster rivalries within the division. The Predators, for example, have pretty much nothing going on with St. Louis, and really only a minor animus going with Chicago, based solely on that one playoff series from 2010. There's a bit of juice there with Columbus, but the real rival is Detroit, which has long been the Preds' measuring stick, having beaten them twice in the post-season. Facing teams like that on a regular basis each spring would really get those rivalries going, let me assure you.

The fact that a current NHL executive is actively promoting that idea among his peers gives me hope. Get it done, Mr. Santos!

Nashville Predators News

Top 15 moments of the 2010-11 Preds season: #15 | Section 303
Pekka Rinne starts off the 303's list.

Hockey Night in Nashville: Will Ryan Ellis Start Next Season in Nashville?
I'll go with "no", but you have to be almost giddy looking at the talent coming up through the system along the blueline.

Preds On The Glass: POTG Thursday Headlines, News, and Morning Links
Towards the end of Buddy's links we have a battle of the burgers...

Preds On The Glass: Pete Weber Stops by at RLD Hockey Radio for a Predators Roundtable (Podcast)
Pete Weber, Buddy Oakes and Jeremy Gover join Ryan Port to wrap up the season.

Around the NHL

Darren Dreger reports that the league will likely hold off on realignment for the time being, and simply have a Winnipeg team stay in the Southeast Division for a year. It's not an entirely unprecedented idea, as Tampa Bay played in the Norris Division with Chicago, Detroit et al in the 1992-93 season, before moving to the Eastern Conference the next year.

What About Quebec? - Houses of the Hockey
Quebec City is left behind in all this talk about Winnipeg because they don't have an arena ready, but the more interesting angle, to me, is that Kansas City is no longer talked about as an NHL destination. They've got a state-of-the-art building just waiting for a tenant.

"Nerds on Ice" by Jeremy Keehn - The Walrus
A nice defense of the art & science of hockey analytics.

Canucks Drown Sharks At The Rog And Take 2-0 Series Lead: Thanks Ben Eager - Nucks Misconduct
I'm feeling pretty good about my "Vancouver in five" pick.

Video: The Girl Who Flashed Ben Eager in the penalty box - Puck Daddy
The Green Men have been upstaged.

Marleau-Bieksa scrap causes a stir -
One of the more surprising moments of last night's game came when Patric Marleau dropped the gloves with Kevin Bieksa, after the Vancouver defenseman kept popping him with some stickwork away from the play.

SBJ honors NHL as Sports League of the Year -
A nice honor for the National Hockey League, as it beat out the NFL, NBA, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Major League Soccer.

Edmonton council approves framework deal to build new arena - The Globe and Mail
It looks like the Oilers will indeed be able to garner significant public assistance to build a new arena in Edmonton.

"Help Needed: Goalie" posters seen in South Philadelphia - Broad Street Hockey
Nice... maybe they might be interested in trading for Mark Dekanich this summer? I can't stop thinking that shipping @dexshow (along with other assets) might help David Poile move back up into the 1st round of the NHL Entry Draft.

Quote That May Interest Only Me: Craig MacTavish - The Copper & Blue
If Craig MacTavish lands the coaching gig in Minnesota, Derek Zona thinks the Oilers could be in danger of getting locked in the Northwest Division's basement.

Boughner Steps Down as Columbus Assistant Coach - The Cannon
Former Nashville Predators defenseman Bob Boughner steps down as Columbus assistant coach, and heads back to Windsor, where he owns the OHL's Spitfires.

Departing Canadiens president: Language issue ‘huge disadvantage’ - Puck Daddy
There's no question that Montreal's special status in Quebec, once a source of competitive strength in the days when they had their pick of French Canadian prospects, is now a hindrance.

Records cite slurs in arrest of Barnaby - The Buffalo News
This Matthew Barnaby case is just plain ugly... (found via Kukla's Korner)

Report: Zherdev attacks wife, criminal charges await - Broad Street Hockey
This isn't good, either...

Who’s got Gretzky’s record-breaking puck? - The Globe and Mail
Why... I do! Yeah, that's the ticket... and I'm putting it on eBay later on today...

Tyler Myers Developing Ahead Of The Curve - Die By The Blade
Year 2 wasn't quite as exciting as Tyler Myers' rookie campaign, but he should be a Sabres staple for a long, long time.