First bit of worthwhile news in what seems like forever came out of Springfield today. Divisional alignments, schedule formats and options as well as a teaser with playoffs announced today.
Let’s get into the division first.
Pens are back in the Atlantic Division with the following teams:
The League is bringing ALL of the teams that play in the AHL in 2022-23 to a 72 game schedule. The Pacific Division and their 68 game exception? Gone. But that is next year and not this coming year.
The AHL is giving teams the option to play either, 76, 72 or 68 games in 2021-22. The Pacific Division will play 68 games. The Penguins are among 10 teams which will remain on the 76 game format this season. Divisional foes Hershey, Lehigh Valley and Springfield are on the 76 game train. The other divisional foes (Bridgeport, Hartford, Providence and Charlotte) are electing to play 72 games.
This means three things.
- The Sunday games as well as the weekday games are staying for now.
- Teams will be ranked by points percentage.
- You are probably going to see more of your 76 game brethren than you are your 72 game brethren, which means get ready for 10+ with Hershey and Lehigh Valley as per usual.
Color me surprised that the AHL was able to convince a) the Pacific Division teams (which consist of nearly a third of the AHL at this point and will likely balloon to 10 teams when Palm Springs comes in next season) to play more games and b) the traditional heavyweight teams like Hershey, Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and others to accept less dates next season. I think that teams electing to play 76 games willingly this season were a hard no on accepting less games, but with a league make up of 10 teams (eventually with the addition of Palm Springs) and all the other teams electing to play 72, majority rules.
Hey, if it means less Sunday and Wednesday games, I am all for it.
The League also announced plans to expand the amount of teams which will qualify for playoffs next year, but details on that will be announced later, most likely when they announce a playing schedule later in the summer.
Woo, that’s a lot to cover on this hot day in June. Enjoy your summer.