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From the Branches: Realignments and a new playoff system

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The ECHL made some changes yesterday!

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There's a lot of hockey to discuss after yesterday's news that the ECHL has not only realigned, but revised its playoff system! They've changed it from the points-based system of last season to one that resembles the NHL. This change means that the Solar Bears would've made the playoffs last year, so here's hoping this change is for the best.

Also notable is the fact that the South Division has a new rival -- the Cincinnati Cyclones. This poor team is going to do epic, month-long tours of the south, I'm reckoning, but it's good for the Solar Bears. The division is arguably the toughest in the league, and having more cannon fodder rivals that the team sees up to ten times a year will help.

I'll likely write a piece about this later, but first you can read through my research articles.

Minors!

ECHL Announces Realingment | Caps Outsider
"If this format was used during the 2015-16 season, the South Carolina Stingrays, the South Division champions, would have faced the Orlando Solar Bears. Orlando did not make the playoffs last season under the old system."

St. John's done in by tide of trendiness in the AHL | The Telegram
"St. John’s may be a great AHL city, but the map tells you it can’t keep up with the fashion of farm clubs being close to parent teams."

IceCaps seek new hockey partner | SJIC.com
Did John Scott break the Ice Caps? My column:

Montreal Canadiens to move AHL affiliate to new Laval arena | Globe and Mail
"The 10,000-seat Place Bell arena is nearing completion in Laval."

The Canadiens AHL affiliate will be named through a fan contest | HEOTP
"The Canadiens have decided to allow the naming of their AHL affiliate to be decided democratically."

Beast Get Four New Division Rivals as ECHL Shakes Up Alignment | Brampton Beast
"Joining the Beast in the North Division will be previous division challengers, the Wheeling Nailers, as well as a group of four new division rivals, including the Adirondack Thunder, Elmira Jackals, Manchester Monarchs and Reading Royals."

AHL teams can’t stop moving | The Telegram
"In the last decade, there are have been 25 franchise relocations in the American Hockey League."

Shifts happen: ECHL realignment gives Aces' schedule some oddities | Alaska Dispatch News
"The ECHL is a minor-league circuit as fluid as an actual hockey game – both feature a succession of shifts."

With ECHL shakeup, Cincinnati Cyclones head back east | WLWT
"The Cyclones will be joining the Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears and South Carolina Stingrays."

Philadelphia Flyers renew ECHL affiliation deal with Reading Royals | BSH
"The Flyers’ ECHL-level prospects will remain in the state."

Other Hockey News

Jonathan Bernier: Maple Leafs ‘heading in the right direction’ | Sportsnet
"I was a bit shocked on Friday morning when I heard the news," Bernier told Vendetta. "But I’m very excited to start a new chapter in my career."

Toronto Maple Leafs: Shifting Nazem Kadri’s Role | Editor in Leaf
"When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Nazem Kadri the world saw the bright lights and shiny dangles of an offensive prospect out of the junior hockey mecca of the world – the London Knights."

2015-16 Pensburgh Recap: Phil Kessel | Pensburgh
"Even if one argues that Kessel's regular season production was fairly pedestrian for a player of his caliber, he exploded in the playoffs for the team-leading 10 goals and 22 points. He missed out on the Conn Smythe trophy by a hair in a very close vote, and had he won it it would have been richly deserved."

Maple Leafs To-Do List for the Rest of the Summer | Bloggers Tribune
"Here are the five main things that the Maple Leafs still need to take care of this offseason."

Fort Dupont Hockey Club founder Neal Henderson still skating strong at 79 | The Color of Hockey
"His deep-voiced bark is still matched by its bite, and the tough love he bestows upon the kids of the nation’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program remains as strong as ever."

What you need to know ahead of the World Cup of Hockey | Yardbarker
"There was speculation that Kessel might be added to the roster after Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan would no longer be participating, but reports that he had hand surgery following the Penguins’ Stanley Cup Final win has put those rumors to rest."

TSN’s profit falls 3.4 per cent in first year after losing national NHL rights | Globe & Mail
I await Species' take on this one.

NHL restricted free agent arbitration dates set | Yahoo
"Arbitration hearing dates for restricted free agents and their respective clubs have been set from July 20 to August 4, 2016 in Toronto."

Follow Coach Korn at #CapsDevCamp 7/11/16 | Monumental Network
For goalie aficionados.

Bobby Orr: ‘I think our game has become more dangerous’ | Today's Slapdash
"I think some of it has got to do with that open ice. I just don’t think we’re a game that we can play without borders. We need that center ice line back in to slow it down. Now players have to make plays coming out of their end. That should help to create more offense, by good forechecking. Because now they can’t shoot it from their line to the other blueline."