The American Hockey League announced their 2015-2016 division alignment this week, and shockingly it makes a lot of sense.
I wasn't expecting the newly-westward expanded league to place California franchises in the same division as teams from Connecticut and North Carolina, but in a week where a professional league suspended a marquee player on the basis of "maybe" I've learned you can never be too certain with these fancy-suits-and-$1-hot-dog-deals-on-a-Friday-night types.
Unless you require a telescope to read what's on a computer screen, you'll be able to notice above that the conferences are balanced - something the NHL should perhaps look into - and that with the exception of Charlotte being in a primarily mid-west division, there isn't a lot of excessive inner-divisional travel taking place. Gone are the days (lets hope) where teams are forced to fly across the continent to play a divisional rival in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Moving out west opens the door to a lot; expanding the game, cutting down on travel costs and for further teams to make their way out west. Vancouver is really the only outlier at this point, having placed their affiliate in the depressing convenience that is Utica, New York.
Providence, while their inner-divisional matchups are largely familiar faces, will see a trio of teams that are rarely on the schedule: Rochester, Toronto and Utica make their way through the Dunkin Donuts Center in 2015-2016.
And if I'm allowed to be selfish for a minute here, having lived in Hartford County for the past ten years, I can't express how thankful I am that Hartford and Providence finally share a division. Now I have more than two opportunities a season to drive 10 minutes and watch B's prospects play in a barn that should have been burned to the ground 15 years ago. Also, there's always been a good rivalry opportunity between the two - as the territory in Connecticut is fairly split between New York and Boston, and Rhode Island is, of course, largely pro-Boston. Considering I saw two dads - presumably divorced - fight during an intermission at the last Providence-Hartford game I attended, I can't emphasize enough how pissa having more of these games is.
After all, you can never have enough dad fights.