As everyone knows, the NHL is realigning their divisions for the upcoming season in hopes to finally make sense. Every team’s traveling mileage will be dialed down, most notably Detroit’s. They have been carrying the torch for the NHL in the west for a long time now, and they finally get to rejoin the east. I can’t wait.
Since I was in the building when the Wheel completed the sweep of the Caps in the ’98 finals, I’m a little sad that the Caps won’t be able to exact revenge in the finals at some point. I used to dedicate my life to hating the Red Wings, although I would always root for them to make the finals, so that if the Caps were there, the rematch was set. However, this past season, for reasons unknown, my burning hatred left me, and I was genuinely rooting for Detroit in the playoffs. Detroit is everything you want in a franchise, and there’s no getting around that. After dissecting the Caps flaws over and over and over again for years, I just came to appreciate a club that seemingly does everything right, much like the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. You can hate them for always winning, or you can appreciate the difficulty of always winning. I can’t wait to have Detroit in the east because I want the Caps to be playing, and measuring themselves against, the best.
Which brings me to the Caps’ new division. Oh boy, this is going to be fun. The Caps are going to be in an eight-team division with both New York teams, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Columbus, and New Jersey. Similar to the old Patrick division, the Caps will be reunited most notably with New York, Philly, and Pittsburgh. Despite the sizable uptick in competition, this will do wonders for this Caps team. Gone are the days of inflated praise due to the worst division in hockey, the now old Southeast division. The Caps had famously owned that Southeast division, and it had famously not gotten them very far. It was hard to judge how good the team was, because it was impossible to discern how much success was due to a weak division. Well, no more.
The Caps are surely in for a dogfight every year. Getting to the postseason is going to be considerably more difficult, but, if you are a true fan, you’re happy about this development. If the Caps make the playoffs in this new NHL landscape it’ll be because they earn it. This should build a higher confidence for players and fans, and hopefully postseason success will be larger than it has been since the Caps made the finals in ’98.
If not, well, then at least we get to dedicate ourselves to a higher level of hatred for the candy-corns (Philly), the rags (Rangers), and the dreaded Penguins. Let’s get it started.