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This Week in a season that actually happened: The primer

They’re back! Your Red Wings who played 25 years ago are back and playing.

(Holy Crap. A bunch of things are going on at once. I’ll get to the Tigers and Lions later this week. Now we talk about things to distract us from the other things that are supposed to distract us.)

Los Tigres (The Tigers for all you English speakers) are back in the playoffs. Football seems like it’s a different game with this the new Ed Hochuli feature. But one thing remains conspicuously absent as we head into October.

Your beloved Detroit Red Wings. For the second time in eight years, the NHL is locked out. Like many, I don’t care about the details or who is right, I would just strongly prefer a hockey season that actually happened.

In the absence of a 2012 one, I had no choice but to go back and play through one that already happened. Welcome to the first installment of This Week In A Season That Already Happened.

We’re going way back to the 1987-88 season, and pretending like it’s going on in real time. Games played on October 8, (the season opener) will be reported on October 8.

Now is the part where you say, what about the KHL? What about the Swedish League? Real, live games are going on that include Red Wings players!

Let me ask you a question. What’s Europe ever provided for us besides the scores of athletes, beautiful women, delicious food, nice clothes and the places of birth of your ancestors? Nothing. Their biggest moment in hockey history is a loss to a bunch of college kids at the 1980 Olympics. U-S-A!  U-S-A! U-S-A!

So no, I will not to teams with way too many initials and nicknames that seem like they’re in some kind of foreign language. My hockey will be right here in America (and some parts of Canada). I could pretend the AHL is like some sort half-bit replacement for the NHL, but let’s face it: you and I don’t care about that big Grand Rapids Griffins-Rockford Ice Hogs game on October 27.

The NHL is the NHL. This 1987-88 season will be real to me, dammit!

Why the 1987-88 season? I wanted to go back as far as possible. That season is the first year hockey-reference.com had the box scores for every game.

I have carefully prevented myself from seeing the results of the season and I suggest you do the same if you a.) want to play along and have a real NHL season this year and b.) are not a douche. Don’t look up results or records or stats. Don’t even try to see who was on the Red Wings back then. You’ll undoubtedly stumble upon something you won’t be able to forget.

I have to warn you though. Things were different back then. Just 21 teams were in the league. Say good-bye to the Sharks, Predators, Wild, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Panthers, Senators, Lightning, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Ducks and Stars. But say hello to the Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Minnesota North Stars.

That whole Eastern and Western Conference? So 21st Century. We’ve got the Clarence Campbell Conference (complete with the Norris and Smythe divisions) and the Prince of Wales Conference (complete with the Adams and Patrick divisions) Here’s how the divisions work out.

Clarence Cambell Conference Prince of Wales Conference
Norris Division Smythe Division Adams Division Patrick Division
Chicago Blackhawks CalgaryFlames BostonBruins New JerseyDevils
DetroitRed Wings EdmontonOilers BuffaloSabres New YorkIslanders
MinnesotaNorth Stars Los AngelesKings HartfordWhalers New YorkRangers
St. LouisBlues VancouverCanucks MontrealCanadiens PhiladelphiaFlyers
TorontoMaple Leafs WinnipegJets QuebecNordiques PittsburghPenguins

You should also note that teams play 80 games and basically the entire league makes the playoffs, 16 of 21 teams. The top four teams from each division make the playoffs, they then face each other until there’s a division winner. The two division winners from the conference play each other to go to the Stanley Cup finals.

Caught up? Good. See you Oct. 8 for the season opener.

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