Ahhh, the mighty Pacific. Since the NHL’s six-division realignment in 1998, the league’s westernmost grouping has represented itself fairly well, capturing three of the 14 Stanley Cups awarded over that time while experiencing periods of conference prominence by Dallas and San Jose, and for a shorter period of time, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Only the Central Division, which produced two-time winners in Detroit and Chicago, has captured more Stanley Cups than Pacific Division teams since the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Exit Dallas. [Re-] enter Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
A return to a consortium familiar to those who recall the Kings fondly in their Forum Blue and gold, the newly realigned Pacific Division brings to mind the former Smythe Division, which captured Stanley Cups in six of seven years between 1984 and 1990 – with Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers having a great say in the division’s excellence over that time. By contrast, the Norris Division – the other “western” division – went 10 years without placing a team in the Stanley Cup Final between runner-up efforts by the Minnesota North Stars in 1981 and 1991.
In the lead-up to training camp, LAKI will take a look at each member of the Pacific Division as part of the Hello, Neighbor series. I’ll call on members of the media that cover each team to provide a season preview, taking into account the off-season, intriguing training camp battles, and potential rookies and other unsung players capable of providing an impact.
And some 2012-13 stats, which are mostly meaningless because of player movement but are included for some context: