2015-16 NHL season: A hater's guide to the Western Conference

  (Photo via  bnilsen )

(Photo via bnilsen)

At long last, the NHL has returned in all its glory.

Well alright that's not entirely true because the league never really left. The Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the 2014-15 Stanley Cup on June 15 and already, a new season has started a mere 16 weeks after the previous one ended.

Secundo, it's not entirely true to say that it returns in all its glory; it's more like infamy, thanks to the ugly and ongoing Patrick Kane saga. But it's not only that, there is more. Let's see what the first news item of the new season was: "NHL acknowledges more players using cocaine". Ah yes, that's the good stuff. And to add the nonsensical to the ugly, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reacted to this report by saying that, "I wouldn't say it's a crisis in any sense." He later adds, "[I]f we're talking more than 20 guys I'd be shocked. Because we don't test in a comprehensive way, I can't say."

The NHL, ladies and gentlemen.

All of which is to say that hockey, that religion in Canada despite standing on common ground with Lacrosse in the eyes of the Canadian government, is back. Already. To celebrate, here is a two-part and team-by-team hater's guide to the new season.

1. Anaheim Ducks

Behold the Anaheim Ducks, the little engine that can. As in, the little engine that can win the Western Conference and flame out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs short of expectations every single year. Ducks fly together, and all that good stuff.

2. Chicago Blackhawks

Oh, the Chicago Blackhawks were becoming entirely too lovable for the rest of us, so one of the team's superstars had to go ahead and allegedly do something truly terrible. And the Blackhawks then had to go ahead and schedule a bobblehead night for said superstar this season. Right.

3. St. Louis Blues

Not only will they never win a Stanley Cup, at this rate they will never win another playoff series. They also employ Scott Gomez.

4. Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are the Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman of the NHL: two very, very talented bros, but two bros nonetheless. Unfortunately for residents of Dallas, the Stars aren't the New England Patriots.

5. Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are the San Francisco Giants of the NHL, in that they alternate between being mediocre one year and winning the Stanley Cup the other. They do have Drew Doughty however, and this absolves them of every sin. Go Kings go!

6. San Jose Sharks

Welcome to a new era, where the Sharks have decided to stop disappointing everyone and move on to simply being bad at hockey. It should be fun. San Jose finally named a new captain, but the announcement was overshadowed by Raffi Torres's 41-game suspension; this team is the worst because in the year 2015 it still believes it needs Torres on its roster.

7. Edmonton Oilers

Do you know how I know that the NHL system is broken? A team like the Edmonton Oilers can be an abomination on the ice for the better part of 10 years and have it all be worth it when they're gifted the best prospect to enter the NHL in a decade. This being the Oilers, they'll probably still finish last.

8. Minnesota Wild

They've paid Zach Parise and Ryan Suter a gazillion dollars each for the privilege of losing in the first round for the next 10 years. Welcome to the Western conference, guys. You're the worst.

9. Calgary Flames

Last season's success, in the face of conventional wisdom and modern analytics, was fool's gold. The team will still be fire, but the other shoe is about to drop.

10. Nashville Predators

Not only do the Nashville Predators have an NHL franchise, but they also have a trio of foundational pieces in Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne and Filip Forsberg. It's like they're an organization that could be held as a model franchise for others. Too bad that they're the soccer team of the NHL, all too happy to win their games 1-0.

11. Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets fans waited for so damn long to see their franchise reborn, they could have at least demanded a name change. Being the NFL's New York Jets' namesakes is called #badbranding.

This, however? This is not uncool.

12. Colorado Avalanche

Joe Sakic and Patrick "E" Roy won two Stanley Cups in Colorado and the Avalanche brass believes that makes them qualified to lead the team as executive and head coach. That's not how life works.

13. Vancouver Canucks

In Kevin Bieksa and, long ago, Maxim Lapierre, the Vancouver Canucks lost two prime reasons to hate them. Thankfully, there's still Alex Burrows.

14. Arizona Coyotes

There are two and only two possible outcomes for this Arizona Coyotes season: either Gary Bettman rigs the lottery to give superstud and Arizona native Auston Matthews to the Coyotes, or ship this sad excuse for a franchise to Quebec City. Enjoy your hockey while you still can, 'Yotes fans.