Wednesday, 19 March 2008

That "Q" Looks Different

With the announcement that the St. John's Fog Devils will be moving to Montreal next season, the QMJHL will look considerably different in the 2008-09 season. Not only will there be a newly-relocated team, but the "Q" has decided to revamp its divisional groupings and the playoffs as well. Gone are the two divisions, replaced by four divisions that will categorize the teams more geographically. Of course, this is good for the game and the fans as it will mean better rivalries due to teams being located closer to one another when the playoffs roll around.

The first bit of news comes as more of a shock, considering that owners rarely vote to take money out of their pockets. The QMJHL's Board of Governors voted to reduce the season from 70 games to 68 games. Personally, I like this idea as it makes every count for a little more in the scope of the season.

Along with the reduction in games, there is the new divisional format. Currently, the league operates a two-division system: the Telus Division is home to 10 teams while the Eastern Division has eight teams. The league has decided to switch to four divisions that reflect the geography of the QMJHL. They are:

TELUS West: Gatineau Olympiques, Montreal Junior (currently the St. John's Fog Devils), Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, and Val-d'Or Foreurs.
TELUS Centre: Drummondville Voltigeurs, Lewiston MAINEiacs, Shawinigan Cataractes, and Victoriaville Tigres.
TELUS East: Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Québec Remparts, and Rimouski Océanic.
TELUS Atlantic: Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Halifax Mooseheads, Moncton Wildcats, P.E.I. Rocket, and Saint John Sea Dogs.

Does anyone want to guess who the major sponsor of the QMJHL is?

In terms of the playoffs changing, this is a direct result of the new divisions. 16 teams will be participating for the President's Cup as always. The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs.

Here's where it gets tricky. The #4 seeds in the divisions will stack up against the two remaining teams from the Atlantic division in a cross-over situation. The two teams with the least amount of points will not make the playoffs. Again, every point counts with only 68 games now, and this is magnified by the playoff situation.

Speaking of the "Q" looking different, the St. John's Fog Devils will be moving to Montreal, as stated earlier in this article. It marks a triumphant return to Quebec's largest city.

Fog Devils' owner Derm Dobbin butted heads with the management of the Mile One Stadium concerning rental costs, and team president Brad Dobbin said that poor attendance was making operating the team difficult.

"In my opinion, St. John's has probably had its hockey. It's going to be a long time before another team comes along," Matthew Ryder, Fog Devils' media relations officer, said to the CBC. The QMJHL came to St. John's one year after the Toronto Maple Leafs moved their AHL franchise from St. John's to Toronto.

While the Montreal club has yet to select a team name, they will be playing out of the Verdun Auditorium. They have, however, selected a colour scheme: home uniforms and road uniforms. They also have a bit of information on their website, which you can find here.

There's your QMJHL update for today. Playoffs will be starting soon with a berth to the Memorial Cup on the line. It should be another fun-filled playoff season in the "Q"!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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