Over the last couple of months a lot has changed. In the NHL the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and free agents are jumping to other teams. The same can be said for the AHL, as the Manitoba Moose move to St. John's. This new look as well as bigger fan base has resulted in the AHL moving divisions around and adding a couple.
Last season there was a total of four divisions and two conferences. This upcoming 2011-12 season fans will see six divisions in the two conferences.
The changes include downsizing the divisions from six to eight teams depending on the division down to five teams. Here is a breakdown of what the next season will look like compared to what it did this past season.
Eastern Conference Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division Atlantic Division
Portland Pirates Portland Pirates
Manchester Monarchs Manchester Monarchs
Connecticut Whale St. John's
Providence Bruins Providence Bruins
Springfield Falcons Worchester Sharks
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
East Division East Division
Binghamton Senators Binghamton Senators
Charlotte Checkers Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Hershey Bears
Hershey Bears Norfolk Admirals
Norfolk Admirals Syracuse Crunch
Adirondack Phantoms Northeast Division
Western Conference Adirondack Phantoms
North Division Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Hamilton Bulldogs Connecticut Whale
Manitoba Moose Springfield Falcons
Lake Erie Monsters
Toronto Marlies Western Conference
Grand Rapids Griffins
Rochester Americans North Division
West Division Lake Erie Monsters
Milwaukee Admirals Toronto Marlies
Houston Aeros Grand Rapids Griffins
Peoria Rivermen Rochester Americans
Oklahoma City Barons
Chicago Wolves West Division
San Antonio Rampage Houston Aeros
Rockford Icehogs Texas Stars
Oklahoma City Barons
San Antonio Rampage
The playoffs will also change a little. It will still remain eight teams in the playoffs but now it will be the three division winners in each conference will get the top spots and then the other five spots will rank teams determined on who had more points than the other. The first round quarterfinals will change from a seven game series to a five game series. The other rounds will be a best of seven series and the match-ups will change based on who has the better seeds in the later rounds. So if the number one seed gets knocked out but the two seed wins then the two seed will play the eighth seed.
Later in the summer the league will announce its teams' schedules.
For more information on the AHL, Lake Erie Monsters, Tulsa Oilers and Colorado Avalanche stay tuned to this blog and follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133.