Perils of a pepperoni, sardine, and marshmallow fluff pizza…
We’re talking realignment again, and today’s question is, “What would the NHL look like if the NCAA ran the show?” Well, it might look something like this…
The first thing you can see is that the new scheme has conferences named in the NCAA style – ACC, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12. You will also note that the Big Ten is like its NCAA counterpart in that there are not ten teams, but it has adopted the pretentious “Legends” and “Champions” division names.
The ACC employs division names – “Atlantic” and “Coastal” just as its NCAA version does…that’s so you get it through your college educated skull that this is the ATLANTIC COAST(al) Conference. It says a lot that a conference would need to employ that sort of trick to remind cocktail-addled alumni and beer-soaked student bodies where there school (or hockey team) plays.
You’ll note that the ACC also has a new team – Hershey, which has graduated in this scheme from Division II…uh, the AHL…to the “BCS” (Bettman Championship Series) conferences. Ditto for Norfolk in the SEC, because it would have made sense to move a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or perhaps a Houston Aeros into the BCS, but this being the “Bettman” Championship Series, a team with no hope of being able to draw well (currently 20th in AHL attendance) is added, mainly because they’re in the sunny south by NHL standards.
The Pac-12 has only eight teams, but they will travel as if they had one-and-a-half times the road trips. Those Anaheim to Winnipeg jaunts will be lovely for the sun worshippers in February.
But what about playoffs? To that we say, “what playoffs?” The NHL will prepare a schedule that for each team will be heavily loaded with non-conference games against patsies in the first months of the season (everyone gets to play Columbus five times before January 1st). Each week, various outlets (The Hockey News, ESPN, Puck Daddy) will publish their top-25 rankings. People on both sides of the Canada/US border will complain that their team suffers from some bias or other.
But the fun will begin after New Years. At that point, a combination of computer models (Sagarin, Colley Matrix, the girl on “Big Bang Theory”) will spin up and spit out their own rankings every week, which will be aggregated into a “BCS ranking” that absolutely no one will understand and fewer people will believe.
Rankings will go back and forth, forth and back, up and down, from January through March. At that point, the regular season will end, and the divisional champions will meet in conference title games. Imagine the excitement! Chicago taking on Toronto in a Legend Meets Champion game…Washington putting the “A” in ACC against the Bruins defending their “C”…Vancouver against San Jose in the Pac-12.
No one will care who is playing in the SEC for a change.
When all that is done, the BCS computers will rattle and blink one last time and spit out their final rankings. There will be one winner-take-all BCS championship game…The Tostitos-FedEx-Discover-Allstate BCS Championship Game Presented by Vizio. But unlike the BCS football championship games, played in places like Phoenix or Miami or New Orleans, the BCS Championship Game will rotate among cities like Montreal or Toronto or Saskatoon.
But there’s more! In the six weeks that will pass between the end of the regular season and the BCS Championship Game, there will be a host of other games – “bowl” games, if you will. There will be a long list of convoluted rules that spell out which teams qualify for “BCS” bowl games (those games played in BCS cities not hosting a BCS title game) – The Tim Horton Donut Bowl in Toronto…the Canadian Tire Lugwrench Bowl in Ottawa…the Bank of Montreal Snow Bowl in Montreal. No one will understand how their team ended up playing in the Rogers Communications Gray Owl Bowl in Manitoba, but they’ll be proud their team made a bowl game nevertheless.
We just can’t figure out, though…who plays Notre Dame?