Ask Uncle Cooper


Every week, I will be doing a piece where I respond to a question pertinent in some way, shape or form to the Blackhawks. This week, 8 year old Brock Winfield from St. Charles wants to get my thoughts on conference realignment.

Uncle Cooper, how do you think Commissioner Bettman came up with the breakdown for the latest conference re-alignment and what will it mean for the Blackhawks? TIA. – BF

Good question. Let me remind the kids out there that this is the second time in my life that Bettman has given the NHL class a new seating chart. See, when I was a kid, it used to be the Campbell and Wales conferences which changed in 1993 to the less ambiguous Western and Eastern conferences, respectively. For some reason, when I think about Gary drawing up the latest conferences, I envision a montage scene set to the song ‘ABC’ by Jackson 5 where Bettman attempts the below methods to assign each team a conference:

-By separating the sticks of each team into four piles with his eyes closed like in street hockey.

-By breaking each team’s mascot down by Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. Then struggling with what the hell a Canuck would be.

-By picking names out of a Bingo Scrambler and using his freebie as Detroit.

-By throwing darts at a dartboard and continually missing the board with the Florida and Tampa Bay darts.

-By running a hamster with each team’s logo taped to it through a maze. The hamster with the Phoenix logo would jump over the edge and run around the house or perhaps even to a new city.

-By asking his magic 8 ball which conference Winnipeg belongs in and the magic 8 ball responding with, “not Atlanta” or “ask again later.”

But I digress. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the time-zone conscious breakdown almost makes an attempt to market to the NHL to fans. More games against geographically closer teams (for the most part), better TV times for those games AND no traditional rivalry games lost? Careful Gary, we don’t want hockey losing it’s indie street cred.

Hardcore hockey fans can also exhale now that their prayers were answered through the preservation of the tenacious Florida/Tampa Bay Sunshine State Showdown (that needs to be a patch, with lots of oranges, on their jerseys the next time they play). Hopefully at the some point the conferences are named so they don’t feel like they’re numbering off in gym class. A, B, C, D. A, B, C…(pause) CAROLINA, YOU’RE D!

As it relates to the Tribe, a few more trips to Manitoba won’t kill us. Winnipeg is great this time of year and Chicago fans will now have even more chances to defend themselves against drunk Red Wings fans in the 300 level. Or drunk St. Louis fans in the 300 level. Or drunk Columbus fans…wait Columbus doesn’t have fans, never mind.

I’ll miss those games against Vancouver and San Jose that boast a playoff-like atmosphere but I’m confident that I’ll find a player and team from the East Coast to hate just as much. I want everyone to remember, when Bettman closes a door, he always opens a window.

This realignment feels a lot like when White Hen Pantry was bought out by 7/11 back in 2006 . Maybe some of the product offerings changed, maybe the curious bowling shirt that the employees wore changed colors, but all in all, the coffee will still be pretty damn good.

I hope that helps.

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