I'm back from vacation and, first of all, must thank stunt double Ben Smith for filling in admirably while I was gone.
While these items were well documented in my absence, I do want to go on record briefly with my takes:
The 16-team playoff draw: In a word, farcical.
It will make all the teams in the Central Hockey League-IHL collective more money, so I understand that rationale. And the IHL teams had already sold their fans the bill of goods that next season would be 70 games, so they had to make up for the 66-game schedule, and so I understand the intent there.
But they completely devalued the regular season. What if -- and this is very possible -- a team clinches a playoff berth in December? Will there be any drama for the fans, as they watch their team try to clinch the third seed instead of the fourth? Few things in sports are as exciting as seeing a team fight to get into the playoffs, but we will hardly see any of that next season. Oh, and by the way, this argument that the CHL-IHL just doesn't want to have any byes is just ludicrous.
Would a team that finishes first or second overall really not relish a rest as reward?
Best-of-five series: If there's anything worse than having 89 percent of an 18-team league make the playoffs, it's that the first two rounds will be best-of-five. All it does is make it easier for a bad team to knock out a good team. The postseason should be about deciding who the best is and this, again, devalues the playoffs.
Last bastions of the new IHL: Now that we've finally seen the plan for next season -- conference alignment, playoff format, etc. -- there really is no good reason for the IHL teams to keep making such a big thing about them being the IHL teams. There's no wonderful brand that they are preserving. It's not big enough to stand on its own. One of the IHL teams, Quad City, is making a point of distancing itself from the IHL. It's just pride and maintaining a safety net in case this union dissolves after a year or two.
There is one caveat, though, and that's that in a business sense, calling this a merger might destroy some important facets of the IHL -- relationships with advertisers, for instance.
A fond farewell: As part of the inevitable consolidation, the IHL has fired its media-relations director, Amy Stump. This is a shame, especially since there are staff members being kept around whose jobs I can't fathom being relevant in the CHL. Stump was the best media-relations director I've dealt with -- at any level, including the NFL -- and I've dealt with several.
The Komets' roster: Waiting for something positive from me today? Well, here you go. The Komets have hit a home run with their roster, so far. They couldn't have found a better replacement for Colin Chaulk than Mathieu Curadeau. Though I had my doubts it would happen, getting Nick Boucher back gives the team a game-changing goaltender, who is open to having an elite No. 2 (hello, Rob Nolan). I was afraid the Komets would whiff on Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, but they got that right. Sean O'Connor and Leo Thomas were important re-signings, and so on.
The Komets are going to have to make sure they get some offensive help on the blue line for Guy Dupuis, but other than that, I think they'll be fine. I know people are talking about toughness, but that will work itself out because there are so many guys looking for jobs.
The schedule: I'm definitely excited we'll be seeing some different teams this season, but there is a spell in February and March in which we'll all be a little tired of Evansville and Dayton. Overall, though, not bad. Too bad we'll have to wait until the last two games for Colorado, though.
And, finally, tonight's show: Tonight's edition of "We've got Game," the internet radio show hosted by Justin Cohn and Ben Smith, will have topics of sports and pop culture, including hockey, The Brickyard, "Inception," and much more. It airs 6 to 7 p.m., but you can listen to the replay anytime after that. Click here.