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NHL Realignment Good for St. Louis Blues: Fan Take
The NHL's Board of Governors voted Dec. 5 to realign the league into four conferences that are as of yet unnamed. The St. Louis Blues will be in a conference along with the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and the hated Chicago Blackhawks.
The move certainly cuts down on travel time as each team within the conference will play each other five or six times in a season. Teams out of the conference will play a home-and-home series.
Realignment means playing teams within your conference is more important. The top four in each grouping will make the playoffs. The chances of the Blues making the playoffs just got better—they only compete against their conference in the first two rounds of the postseason. Playing more games against conference foes will only make them tougher opponents in the playoffs.
For traditionalists back to the old Norris Division, the Blues welcome back the Stars and Jets into the fold. St. Louis used to play the former Minnesota North Stars all of the time as division rivals. The Jets were also regular opponents. In addition to the relative newbies in Nashville and Columbus, the realignment feels more like the old NHL.
Blues fans would welcome more games against the dreaded Blackhawks. Imagine seeing them in three home games a year.
Plus for hockey purists in the Midwest, the rivalries add up to some good hockey. The Blues, Blackhawks and Red Wings have been some of the meatiest teams in the NHL for decades. Although Chicago and St. Louis have underperformed in terms of Stanley Cup Finals appearances, there have been many great hockey games played over the years among these centrally-located teams.
I can't wait to get these old rivalries started up again. Minnesota was shipped down to Dallas and then went to the Pacific Division. The Wild have been in the Northwest Division. Winnipeg is currently stuck in the Southeast Division as the former Atlanta Thrashers. Despite recent years without playoff appearances, the Blues have been one of the classiest teams in the NHL. The realignment will only further that ideal.
William Browning was born in St. Louis and has been a lifelong Blues fan.
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