The South(l)east Division
Most people have always had kind of a snide view of the Southeast Division. Despite the fact SE teams have won two Stanley Cup championships since 2004, (a feat only duplicated by the Central Division (’08 Detroit & ’10 Chicago), and that they have the most famous/recognizable player in the sport, they have somehow been stuck with the reputation of being the “Oh yeah, THOSE guys” division.
While most years the numbers haven’t really added up to validate this negative view of the Southeast, this season, things actually are pretty bleak.
Why? Ponder this for a moment… With the Atlanta
Flames’ Thrashers’ move to Calgary Winnipeg, the teams in the division each have had to endure so much more travel than they are used to. I just don’t think they are handling it well.
Here’s a nice big map to help illustrate the point (click to see it bigger, and feel free to download as a wallpaper):
NHL 2011-2012 Alignment Wallpaper
Winnipeg has had to endure the most travel amongst the five SE teams, and while it has helped that they have really amazing fans and are finally playing in a city that actually cares about them, they are still mired with the same type of record as their four counter-parts (all between 67 and 77 points as of this writing).
While Dallas, Minnesota and Colorado (and to a lesser extent their Pacific and Northwest brethren) have similar travel burdens as the Southeast, they have had years to acclimate to the strain (at least as much is as possible).
Hopefully next season will be the last that divisions have this much east-to-west spread in them. This issue has basically been the point of the NHL Realignment Project, I just wanted to show the effects on a division now that a third has joined in on the pains of the Pacific and Northwest.