How important is it to win your division in the NHL? Apparently not that important at all. Just ask the four divisional winners (Capitals, Lightning, Predators and Flames) who all lost in the first round, the first time this has happened in NHL history. Who's the favourite now? Can you believe Vegas thinks it's the Hurricanes.
The point often overlooked should be something that the NHL and all its fans should be warmly embracing because it's something that is rarely achieved in professional sports, and that's parity. Other sports entities would die for this situation as opposed to having two or three teams dominate their respective sports year in and year out.
By having a competitive league, it greatly increases energy, interest and competition throughout the league, which in turn increases revenue for everyone involved.
There has been a growing call for playoff change and all these so-called upsets will only hasten that concern. Many want to "can" the present system (four divisions in two conferences) and simply go with two conferences with the top eight teams making the playoffs, thereby eliminating the need for any so-called wild card teams. Look for this change to occur sooner than later.
In this day and age with everyone wanting to be so politically correct, the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League decided to do the proactive thing and has changed its name to the Manitoba AAA U-18 Hockey League. Hockey Canada has not yet adopted any changes but if and when they do, it will probably apply to all age levels meaning no more Midget, Bantam, Pee Wee, Novice, Squirt but U-18, U-16, U-14, U-12, U-10 and so on. Something tells me Tim Hortons (Timbits) won't be in favour of this change.
The Expedition League (elite wood bat summer collegiate baseball league) has released its 64-game schedule. The Wheat City Whiskey Jacks, playing out of Andrews Field in Brandon, will begin their season on the road in Minot on May 24 and will have their first home game on Tuesday, May 28 when they host the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs.
It'll be very interesting to see how Brandon and the surrounding area support this team and league which features nine other teams, all from south of the border. There's no doubt that minor league baseball popularity is increasing as there are currently over 440 minor league teams playing in 45 leagues throughout North America. The WJ held an open house looking for people to work during their games and over 160 people showed up interested in helping out. Great start!
The league will once again have 11 teams playing in two divisions this season as the anticipated entry of a team from Bottineau, ND, unfortunately, failed to materialize. There is a possibility they might have a team ready for next season.
Don't forget Da Bears baseball team hosts the Vincent Massey Vikings this Wednesday at 5:30. Until next time....