Updated: January 9, 2012 9:25AM
Not everyone is on board with the NHL’s realignment, which brings back divisional playoffs in a four-conference format. Blackhawks veteran Andrew Brunette has his concerns.
“If you look at our division now, it could be extremely strong, and teams [may miss] the playoffs because they didn’t have the points,” Brunette said. “I have a little problem with that.”
Brunette is referring to the possibility that the fifth team in a stronger conference next season might have more points than the fourth or third team in a weaker conference and miss the playoffs.
Entering Wednesday, the Hawks, Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings were among the top four in the 15-team Western Conference. Next year, they’ll be part of an eight-team conference in which four teams make the playoffs.
“It’s going to be harder [to make the playoffs],” Brunette said. “There could be a year where there’s five or six teams in your division that have 95 or 100 points and miss the playoffs. That’s hard to take.”
Coach Joel Quenneville agreed, especially considering two new conferences consist of seven teams.
“You put these eight teams in just our group knowing that only half of them are going to make it, that’s tough,” Quenneville said.
Center Dave Bolland (foot) has played in 10 consecutive games, but he returned to practice for the first time in weeks Wednesday.
“If not practicing, to be sure the swelling goes down is the main thing,” he said.