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4/30/2023 9:08 pm  #11

Re: NHL Promotion-Relegation Simulation

1979-80 NHL Season

First Division
1. Philadelphia Flyers: 116 ##
2. Buffalo Sabres: 110 #
3. Montreal Canadiens: 107 ***
4. Boston Bruins: 105 **
5. New York Islanders: 91 *
6. New York Rangers: 89 *
7. Atlanta Flames: 83
8. Toronto Maple Leafs: 75
9. Edmonton Oilers: 69
10. Winnipeg Jets: 51

4: Montreal over New York Rangers: 1
4: Boston over New York Islanders: 0
4: Boston over Philadelphia: 1
4: Buffalo over Montreal: 0

Stanley Cup
4: Boston over Buffalo: 0

Second Division
1. Minnesota North Stars: 88 ##
2. Chicago Blackhawks: 87 #
3. Saint Louis Blues: 80 ***
4. Los Angeles Kings: 74 **
5. Pittsburgh Penguins: 73 *
6. Vancouver Canucks: 70 *
7. Washington Capitals: 67
8. Detroit Red Wings: 63
9. Quebec Nordiques: 61
10. Colorado Rockies: 51

4: Saint Louis over Vancouver: 0
4: Los Angeles over Pittsburgh: 0
4: Minnesota over Los Angeles: 3
4: Saint Louis over Chicago: 1

Gordie Howe Cup
4: Minnesota North Stars over Saint Louis Blues: 0

Before we discuss the season, it is important to discuss the NHL-WHA merger. While the NHL had invested in its promotion and relegation system, the rival WHA (World Hockey Association) was filled with relocations and folding teams. As the 1979 playoffs ended, talks between the rival leagues resulted in a planned merger.

As opposed to the normal entry rules for the league, where new team start at the bottom of the ladder, the top two teams, out of the four joining franchises, the teams who finished in the top two spots in the WHA would join the NHL First Division, while the bottom two would join the Second Division. As such, the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets entered the First Division. The Quebec Nordiques would enter the Second Division, while the Hartford Whalers were declared inactive, though they would gain entry into the Second Division with the folding of the Colorado Rockies. With the expansion, both divisions were capped, for the nonce, at 10 teams each.

In the First Division in 1979-1980, four teams finished with 100 or more points, including the first place Philadelphia Flyers (116), the second place Buffalo Sabres (110), the third place Montreal Canadiens (107) and the Boston Bruins (105). Rounding out the playoffs, were the New York Islanders (91) and the New York Rangers (89), with the two teams battling all year. In seventh place and eighth place, were the Atlanta Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. In last, by some six points, were the WHA entrants, the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets. Though initially close, by the last month of regular season, the Winnipeg Jets had fallen behind, and so ending their first stint in the First Division, and were demoted to the Second Division.

In the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Montreal beat the New York Rangers in five games, while their market rival New York Islanders, were swept by the Boston Bruins. Going into the second round, the first seed Philadelphia Flyers matched off with the Boston Bruins, who shocked the league when Boston dominated the Flyers in five games, while the Buffalo Sabres swept the Montreal Canadiens. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins would sweep the Sabres, pulling off a slight upset.

In the Second Division, the race for first was strictly a Chicago-Minnesota affair. Though the Blackhawks initially held the lead, a late push by Minnesota allowed the North Stars to finish in first with 88 points, one point ahead of Chicago, who finished in second. As such, both teams earned the first round bye. In the other slots, was a dismal group. The third seed Saint Louis Blues only managed 80 points, while the fourth seed Los Angeles Kings posted a 74 point record. In the lower seeds, were the 73 point Pittsburgh Penguins, who had fallen behind Los Angeles, and the 70 point Vancouver Canucks who rounded out the playoff teams. Three points behind Vancouver, were the 67 point Washington Capitals, and behind them 63 point Detroit Red Wings and in second to last the Quebec Nordiques, the former WHA squad, who at 61 points, were still ten points ahead of the last place Colorado Rockies, who were becoming a moribund franchise for the league.

In the Howe Cup Playoffs first round, the Saint Louis Blues would sweep the Vancouver Canucks, while the same outcome would occur with the Los Angeles Kings sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the second round, the best series of the postseason occurred when the North Stars beat the Kings in seven games, in a tightly contested series. The companion series was of some interest, when the Saint Louis Blues upset the Chicago Blackhawks, in a historical rivalry. In the Howe Cup however, the Minnesota North Stars, would be unstoppable, sweeping the Blues, and gaining promotion back to the First Division.


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