Syracuse Crunch to play in new division

The Crunch had been playing in the AHL's East Division, but league re-alignment now has them slated in the AHL's Northeast division.

Since the affiliation switch, the Crunch has gone 50/50 in the AHL's East Division. In 2012-2013, Syracuse ruled it and won the division championship. In 2013-2014, Syracuse blew it and landed dead last in the East at the end of the season. So, it's difficult to predict how a made-over Crunch squad would have done this season in the East. Now, with the AHL re-alignment for 2014-2015 set, it's also pretty futile, too.

The Crunch has itself a new division, and with it a host of new divisional opponents to worry about. The Crunch has been in the AHL's East Division now since 2011-2012. Their opponents were the Hershey Bears, the WBS Penguins, the Binghamton Senators, and the Norfolk Admirals. At least for the 2014-2015 season, the Crunch will be in the Northeast Division along with the Springfield Falcons, the Albany Devils, the Hartford Wolfpack, and the Bridgeport Soundtigers.

The Allentown Phantoms, previously located in Glens Falls, will be taking the Crunch's slot in their old East Division. Other changes include:

• Calgary’s affiliate relocating from Abbotsford, B.C., to Glens Falls, N.Y., and playing in the North Division
• Lake Erie moving from the North Division to the Midwest Division
• Iowa moving from the Midwest Division to the West Division

Syracuse was 3-5-1-1 vs. the Northeast during the 2013-14 season. They were 2-3-0-1 vs. Albany, 1-1-0-0 vs. Bridgeport, and 0-1-1-0 vs. Springfield. AHL teams change a lot during the off season, of course, so although it's good info to have, treat those numbers as if they're worth a grain of salt.

Now, yes, this does mean that the Crunch's travel will probably increase in some ways, but we also know that it will stay the same in others. Syracuse played Albany 6 times last season. That will probably go up to 8 or 10, but Albany is just a few hours down the road. The Crunch saw Springfield twice. That will probably go up, obviously, and I would expect their play vs. Bridgeport to increase, too, at least by a couple of games. Springfield is three and a half hours away; Bridgeport is four and a half. Syracuse didn't play Hartford; Hartford is four hours away from Syracuse.

However, on the other side of things, the Crunch visited Norfolk 4 times last season. That will probably either go down or may be eliminated all together. Norfolk and Syracuse have a rivalry thing going, true, but Norfolk is no longer a division rival and is nine hours away. It doesn't make sense to do all of that traveling just for a rivalry. Also, Syracuse will continue to play closer teams like Rochester, Binghamton (also a rivalry team), WBS, Hershey, Glens Falls, and Allentown several times, regardless of divisional status and only because of geographical closeness.

AHL officials have long pointed out that the AHL divisional alignment has very little to do with the AHL schedule. Travel costs for the league would be too high if some divisional teams played each other more than they do now. So, just keep in mind that travel in the AHL is looked at much differently than in the NHL when it comes to playing divisional and/or conference teams.

Here's the other part of the AHL release that came out today. It talks about the 2015 playoff format:

The format for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs has also been approved by the Board of Governors and remains the same as 2014: Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth. The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

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