For Amerks fans, there’s no real change except for the Abbotsford Heat being in a different division. The Rochester Americans are still in the Western Conference and still in the North Division. As AHL President Dave Andrews said at the Sabres press conference, the Amerks were in the Eastern Conference for about three weeks before the Manitoba Moose were moved to St Johns. Someday they’ll be back in the East.. someday. All we can hope for at this point is that the schedule brings more variety. Speaking of the schedule, it’s usually released shortly after the NBA schedule is finalized as many teams share buildings but with the NBA in a lockout that could create havoc for that process. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
One thing that is different which should make things more competitive is the playoff format. The first round will be a best of five which can be discussed from both sides. In the AHL most teams have poor attendance in the first round which would be one way to explain the change. It’ll also help save on travel costs with fewer games. Another change is that the Division winners all earn a spot in the playoffs and the other five teams are based on regular season point totals in the standings.
Here’s how The AHL words it:
The format for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs was also approved by the Board of Governors. Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth.
The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.
Here’s the alignment broken down by Conference/Division.
|EASTERN CONFERENCE||WESTERN CONFERENCE|
|Atlantic Division||North Division|
|Northeast Division||Midwest Division|
|East Division||West Division|
In recent years there’s only been a handful of us Amerks fans that have travelled to Hamilton and Toronto for games, hopefully with the new affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres we’ll be joined by more fans cheering on our team on the road.