NEW YORK — Ottawa Senators players see good and bad with the NHL’s realignment.
The good? Ottawa will now have four Original Six teams in its division, with the addition of Detroit to Montreal, Toronto and Boston.
The downside is the lopsided nature of the conferences with 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West, but still eight teams qualifying for the playoffs from each side.
“I think they should have found a way to make it even, for competitive reasons,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. “I don’t think it’s fair that one side has a more favourable chance (to qualify for the playoffs) than the other side.
“That’s just my personal opinion, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Alfredsson likes the idea of the Red Wings joining the new Central Division of the revamped Eastern Conference. Florida, Tampa Bay and Buffalo round out the eight-team division.
“I love playing Detroit,” Alfredsson said. “It’s a great team and a fun team to watch. I think our fans will enjoy getting to see them a little bit more.”
The Senators’ front office will enjoy the potential of selling tickets when half the division is comprised of Original Six teams, traditionally a strong draw.
One broadcaster quipped to Alfredsson that he will enjoy playing in this new alignment “next year,” trying to goad the captain into committing to another season.
“I don’t know,” Alfredsson deadpanned.
Defenceman Chris Phillips agrees with Alfredsson that a balanced conference with 15 aside would have been better. Clearly the NHL has an eye to the future with potential expansion and franchise transfers.
“It will build up some rivalries, so there is some good and some bad,” Phillips said.
For Senators coach Paul MacLean, the news means he will be seeing more of the franchise that employed him for six seasons as an assistant coach. But he doesn’t relish facing the Red Wings on the ice more often.
“I’m not sure everybody wants that poison,” MacLean said. “We don’t have a lot of say in the decision process. I’m sure there’s real good reasons it is what it is.
“I’m not sure there’s a competitive advantage or disadvantage … we’re still going to play 82 games … we’re still in the Eastern Conference, so it’s not going to affect us to travel.”
Winger Dave Dziurzynski still did not feel up to speaking to reporters on Friday, while he continued to recover from the concussion he suffered in a fight with Toronto’s Frazer McLaren on Wednesday night.
Jim O’Brien took Dziurzynski’s place in the lineup against the New York Rangers.
NOT A SWEET MEMORY
A New York reporter asked Alfredsson if he had “good memories” of playing at MSG during the Rangers-Senators playoff last spring.
“Not really,” Alfredsson said, as the reporter blushed.
Alfredsson quickly acknowledged it was a good, competitive series in a great building, but “I got a concussion here and we lost in seven so — that’s where that comes from.”