TORONTO– Last Tuesday, President and CEO of the American Hockey League, David Andrews announced that there will be changes to the leagues division structure and play-off format starting for the 2011/12 season.
As a member of the Western Conference, the Toronto Marlies will continue playing in the North Division. Staying with the Marlies are the Rochester Americans (Buffalo affiliate), Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit affiliate), Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado affiliate) and the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal affiliate).
The two major changes to the North Division is the absence of the Manitoba Moose, who no longer exist, and the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary affiliate), who are now in the West Division.
The non existence of the Moose and the Heat will be a benefit for the Marlies as both clubs were well outside the Eastern Time zone in Toronto. Travel was a major concern facing the Marlies last season as most of the games played against these two clubs were done in sets. Three times the Marlies faced the Moose in back to back weekend games while they did the same against the Heat twice.
As well, the Marlies were only able to win three of eight meetings against the Moose last season; including only one at the Ricoh Coliseum. The team in blue was outscored 21-16 and their power-play went just 2 for 36.
Toronto and Abbotsford split the season series four games each.
The North Division proved to be a battle all season for the Marlies as they went 19-24-1-4 in 48 games. Much of the reason Toronto missed the play-offs was because of how many points they gave away to teams they were fighting with.
The new format will have three divisions in each conference; five teams in each division.
Also changed is how seeding will work for Calder Cup play-offs. Gone is the old style of the top four teams in each of the two conference divisions making the post season.
Now the AHL is adopting the NHL style where division leaders earning seeds one through three and teams with the next highest point totals earning seeds four through eight.
The Conference Quarter Finals will be a best of five series with the final three rounds being a best of seven.
Full AHL Division structure right here
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