New Divisions, New Rules

The AHL just wrapped up its annual meetings in South Carolina this week…and with it, came a few big changes for the 2014-15 season:

-Yesterday, the divisional alignment for the season was announced, and with Lehigh Valley joining the lineup and Abbotsford moving east to Glens Falls, it’s an interesting setup:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic: Manchester, Portland, Providence, St. John’s, Worcester (no change)

East: Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Northeast: Albany, Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield, Syracuse

WESTERN CONFERENCE

North: Adirondack, Hamilton, Rochester, Toronto, Utica

Midwest: Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, Milwaukee, Rockford

West: Charlotte, Iowa, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Texas

The Phantoms move from Adirondack in the Northeast to the East Division, Syracuse moves from the East to the Northeast Division.  Abbotsford leaves the West with Adirondack going to the North.  Lake Erie moves from North to Midwest, and Iowa moves from Midwest to West.  Got all that?

Now, with Albany and Adirondack in different conferences, I’m hoping this means there’s a slight reduction in the season series.  Yeah, who am I kidding, I’ll still see them 20 times…

The playoff format remains the same from last season: Division winners will comprise the top 3 seeds, while the top 5 non division winners earn a spot.

Also from the meetings came some rule changes:

-Overtime periods are extended from 5 minutes to 7 minutes, starting as a 4 on 4 for the first three minutes, then going to 3 on 3 for the rest of the session.  If it gets to a shootout, it’s 3 rounds instead of 5 (like in the NHL).  Teams will change sides before the period begins, and also a full dry scrape of the ice surface will precede the start.

-If a player assesses two major penalties for fighting or three non-fighting majors in a game, they will receive a game misconduct.

-If a player loses his helmet during play and does not leave the ice immediately or put the helmet back on properly, they will receive a minor penalty.

And finally, mark your calendars: This year’s home opener will be on Saturday, October 18th.  With the season beginning on October 11th, it appears Albany will begin the season on the road for the second straight year.

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