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Posted By Travis Currie On Dec 6 2011 @ 1:03 am In Dallas Stars | 1 Comment

With the expansion and relocation explosion in the 1990s, the NHL abolished the old four divisions and split the teams in to six, and in the process abolished the old divisional playoff format and adopted the current 1 through 8 set up. Newer fans of the game probably never batted an eye as the difference between the two was never felt. If you’re one of those fans though and you’re reading this, please believe me when I say that the NHL was much more exciting back then. I’m not speaking about the game on the ice, though I preferred it back then too, but I’m speaking solely on the rivalries.

Rivalry is what really drives sport. It’s the difference between not liking your opponent, and truly hating them. Without that hate, where’s the intensity ? The drama ?

The previous format of four divisions and the divisional playoff format was started before the 1981-82 season and was abolished after the 1992-93 season. In those twelve seasons, the North Stars would face the Blackhawks six times for Norris division supremacy and the Blues five times. Repetitive ? Of course, but hat’s what built the hate. Did it get old ? Not at all. The players hated the players, the fans hated the fans, and I think even the Zamboni drivers hated each other. Rivalries across the league were in place before the drop of the puck even in a regular season game and when it came to the playoffs, you didn’t have to wait three or four games to try to find some sort of story line to bring drama to a series.

Since the change back in 1993, the Stars have built rivalries with the Oilers and the Avalanche, but those were by chance and have pretty much faded since. In the divisional format, rivalries don’t face, they only grow.

The Stars new division as of next year will look like this:

  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Minnesota Wild
  6. Nashville Predators
  7. St.Louis Blues
  8. Winnipeg Jets

The top four qualify for the playoffs and it will be a 1 vs 4 , 2 vs 3 format. The two winners will square off for division supremacy. If the season were to end today under the new format, the Stars would play the Wild and the Hawks would square off with the Wings. Pretty interesting match-ups.

Aside from all of that, key to the new changes for the Stars will be not having to play as many games in the Pacific time zone. Something that the Stars players and fans will definitely appreciate.
Real rivalries were killed over the last 18 years but the NHL is finally going back to the old format for the most part.  I for one can’t wait to see many old rivalries rekindled and maybe even a few new ones lit.
I should point out that this is all pending the NHLPA’s approval.
Let’s get it on !

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