If you took a glance at the National Hockey League divisional standings this season, you’d know that there is a massive power balance between the Metropolitan Division and every other one.
This is not necessarily a huge problem, but it makes me cringe a little bit every time I see its effects. As of this writing, the big bad Metro (as it is shortened to) holds three of the top six spots in the league overall.
I should preface that I am a New York Rangers fan, and they are one of the most well-known teams in this division; if anything, I think the Rangers, who play out of New York City, are the face of the idea of the Metropolitan Division, which is to encapsulate the biggest northeastern cities around the NYC area. Let’s keep that in mind.
However, in the Eastern Conference, there is also the Atlantic Division, which gives me more of an impression on coastal cities and southern teams. Currently, I believe that some teams are out of place in their current divisions.
For one, why aren’t the Boston Bruins a Metropolitan Division team? They are located in a huge city in the Northeastern part of the United States and have a huge hockey market. So why are they in the Atlantic?
Another misplacement I can point out is the fact that both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets are both in the Metropolitan Division. This doesn’t really make much sense to me, if I’m being completely honest; Carolina could be dropped into the Atlantic Division and fit right in with its Floridian companions, and Columbus could even pass as a Central Division team in the Western conference.
It might seem like kind of a small and nit-picky argument until it’s your team that is being negatively affected by the insane weight carried by the Metropolitan. Overall, the Hurricanes, Rangers and Penguins (all in the Metro Division) hold the third, fifth and sixth spots in the league overall. They’re now in a horse race to determine who will take the top spot in their division, with the Washington Capitals not too far behind.
Come playoff time, a lot of Eastern Conference teams will be crushed under the might of the big three. I feel as though this might cheat some actual real contenders in the East out of a spot that they worked hard to get, because the divisions are, well, a geographic mess.
I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with this if that weren’t the case. It’s just tough luck if my team isn’t doing well, and I won’t complain about that; my problem comes in when they are doing well and still have to fight hard for a playoff spot, when realistically they should be in a comfortable place statistics-wise.
The Hurricanes, in my opinion, should not be located in this division, since they aren’t really part of the “metropolitan” area anyways. This would offer teams like the Rangers and Penguins a better opportunity to be appropriately seeded when playoffs come around.
I’m not really that mad about this, I just think a review of the divisions could be helpful and fairer to teams around the league who genuinely have a fighting chance at a run for the Stanley Cup. It is not an issue now, only halfway through the season, but I have a feeling it may become more of an issue when playoff seeding starts to take shape.