St. Louis Blues: What Does Realignment Mean for the Blues
On March 7, the NHLPA approved the realignment plan by the NHL. This would mean the end of three divisions per conference and move to a system with two divisions within two conferences.
According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues would be in a division with Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, Nashville, Dallas and Winnipeg.
For the Blues, this is good and bad news.
The good news is that the Blues get to maintain a rivalry with the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have always been hated in St. Louis and conference realignment does not break this up. With both teams being contenders for the Central division title and both having young teams, maintaining the rivalry with Chicago was very important to the Blues.
Also, the Blues are now in a division with the Minnesota Wild. Over the last few seasons, the Wild and Blues have always been battling it out. This rivalry is one of the most underrated rivalries in the NHL and the two teams are now division opponents. Neither team will be upset they are now playing each other four to five times a year. These games will get nasty, especially when both teams are competing for a playoff spot.
Finally, the Blues are in a division with Winnipeg, the newest franchise in the NHL. This is great for newer fans because they get to see a brand new franchise. Hockey fans were excited last year when the Jets came back and seeing them in Scottrade Center should be a hot ticket for the first few years under this new realignment plan.
First off, the Blues lose Detroit to the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings were the most hated rivals of the Blues because of the many times the two teams met in the playoffs, especially in the '90s and early 2000's. The Wings and Blues would always be great games and fans would always want to be in attendance when the Wings came to town. Not having the Detroit to play could hurt attendance and the Blues lose one of their best rivals.
Next, the Blues also lose out on beating up on Columbus. The Blues and Columbus would always play chippy games, and it was nice to get two points the majority of the time. Having the worst team in the league is underrated and the closest team to replace the Jackets are the Jets, but MTS Centre is a very tough place in play in. As a whole, the division loses out on a little stat padding.
The last of the bad news is every one of the new divisional opponents for the Blues is a tough team. Dallas and Colorado are two teams that are just one piece away from being a playoff team and are always bubble teams. Chicago, Nashville and Minnesota are always tough teams that are going to be good for the foreseeable future. And Winnipeg is new, but they too are just a couple players away from being a playoff team. The new division makes competition tough for the Blues, but it will be a good indicator how the team will do come playoff time.
Overall, conference realignment was going to happen no matter what. Winnipeg could not be in the Southeast, and Detroit and Columbus couldn't be in the Western Conference anymore. The Blues get regional opponents that will make the regular season extremely competitive and exciting. The old Norris and Campbell style playoffs will make things even more cutthroat. The NHL made the right choice to breakdown the realignment the way it is, and the Blues should be happy with the division and conference they will have next year.
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