Blog Entry

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

Posted on: June 26, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2011 7:18 pm

We know realignment is coming, the question that has lingered, however, is in what shape will it come? Reports are starting to hint it will be vastly different, if nothing else.

Word started to come out (the Sporting News) of the draft in Minnesota that commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL executives would like to see a four-division layout instead of the current six. We know Winnipeg, the driving force behind the realignment, will be moving to the Western Conference after this season. But to fill the void in the East, there are three teams seeking to make the move: Detroit, Columbus and Nashville.

The plan is expected to be finalized during December's Board of Governors meeting.

“I’m just happy we’re discussing it. Maybe there’s a way for Detroit and Columbus to get in the East,” said Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson. “I’m glad we’re all open to it. We’ll see where it all goes.”

Howson said the Blue Jackets plan a proposal that would place Columbus in the Eastern Conference. He said he hopes the league would be open to the idea of 16 teams in one conference and 14 in the other.

“We’re going to work something up over the summer and see if it has any legs,” Howson said.

Part of the restructuring would also involve changing the layout of the schedule. For the past few seasons the NHL has featured unbalanced schedules, meaning no guarantees to play each team home and away every season. But the new idea would return to a balanced format where all teams play every other team at least twice, guaranteeing a home and road game against every opponent, especially nice for displaced fans. Red Wings fan in Carolina? Rangers diehard in Los Angeles? Start planning now.

The way the playoffs would work would feature the top four teams in each division moving on. The first round would be only divisional battles, then they re-seed for the conference semifinals. This would likely go a lot further in trying to establish division rivalries than the unbalanced schedule with the intensity of playoff games being the driving force behind most of the great grudges in history.

There's still a lot to be discussed, but this seems the most logical plan at the moment. First the NHL will have to be OK with having 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West. Obviously some teams in the East wouldn't be too happy their foes in the West have a greater mathematical chance to get in the playoffs. That could be a hard hurdle to clear. Chicago likely wouldn't enjoy being the only Original Six team in the West and losing its big rival in Detroit.

And while it certainly would not happen anytime soon, you have to wonder when the Westward expansion question would arise. With two more franchises in the West, you'd have balance and everybody is happy ... except for those who hate the idea of more expansion. Which is just about every hockey fan out there. Instead of having new teams in Kansas City and Milwaukee (seriously, why doesn't it have a team?), Seattle or maybe even Salt Lake City, I'd venture about 90 percent of fans would prefer the unbalanced conferences, with the dissenting 10 percent coming from the possible expansion cities.

The expected layout would be based on time zones primarily. Here's what the divisions would likely be.


Pacific: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix

Central: Winnipeg, Minnesota, Colorado, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas


North: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Boston, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey

South: Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida

Surely there are better division names so we don't have the awkward things like Detroit and Pittsburgh being in the "South." I'm sure there'd be a lot of sentiment for the old Norris and Adams Divisions. How would you lay out the divisions?

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL


Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:48 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

Here's how I would do it -

Campbell Conference:

Patrick Division
New Jersey
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
Tampa Bay

Adams Division

Prince of Wales Conference:

Norris Division
St. Louis

Smythe Division
Los Angeles
San Jose

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:36 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

I would like to see Detroit and Coumbus in the East.
they will finally be playing withen their time zone.
The 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West will set up
a perfect expansion in a couple of years
for two teams
e.g. Kansas City, Houston, Seattle....etc.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:32 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

Before realignment takes place, lets first wait for Phoenix (who has no business having a team) to relocate to Quebec where it never should of left...

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:29 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

before i get ripped apart, i did not see the caps in that same division. It may not be as bad of an alignment as i initially thought.

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:27 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

Well it would make up for the stupid mistakes this idiot Gary Bettman continues to make. Let's see the highest drawing ticket sales come from the Detroit Red wings, and what does he do for them?  Well 1st he gives them NO original 6 home games minus chicago (WOW!! Thanks they play in our division and have to play us at home.) We don't see either Toronto, or Montreal which oh that's right both times either team makes a trip to detroit, The fans are waiting for about 30 blocks down the streets to get tickets. Oh and our newest rival the Penguins don't even play against the Wings period! Wow way to go jackass! How do you still have a job?

As for a move to the east that would be great however the division alignment setup at the moment gives the pens/wings the easiest division in the nhl and seems very unfavorable... Somebody below commented about the Bruins winning the championship and deservedly so, however to think the Wings would not wipe up the east shows you know nothing about hockey. 20+ straight playoff appearances in a much more difficult western conference, an .815 winning percentage against eastern teams (including the stanley cup since 95 indicates the wings prefer to stay in THEIR OWN DAMN TIMEZONE,) 

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2011 8:17 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

I'll be honest, I like it the way it is now. Don't fix what isn't broken. If they're going to expand later on, definitely go to Seattle and Portland.

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2011 7:53 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

I love the fact that this creates interest.  I might make a division thing too!!!  I like how you added new teams.  Good Job!!! 

I am from the Twin Cities and I would try to get the Hawks in Minny.  I know that all hockey fans that remember the North Stars and Black Hawks Rivalry in the 80s and early 90s would love to see the Hawks more.  To have the NHL say that Vancouver is our rival is ridiculus!!!    No one in Minnesota cares about the Canucks when they come here or I am sure visa versa when we go there.  

Chicago would be great!!! It would be great to hate a team again.  Remember the fans in each arena yelling one of these?  SECORD SUCKS!! SECORD SUCKS!!!  DINO SUCKS!!!  DINO SUCKS!!!  As much as I hated it I thought it was funny when the Black Hawks announcer would say Chick ah relli for Cicarelli (Siss ah relli) and Bay zil McRae instead of (<span style="color: #bb3333;">b ae s ih l)

Please NHL put the Hawks in our division.  If we have to have Winnipeg also we will take it as long as Chicago is there.

This was the greatest NHL playoffs in my lifetime that I remember and I am 44.  You really wanted another round to happen after the Bruins won.

Have a good day all.  Dave from the Twin Cities   

Since: Feb 25, 2007
Posted on: June 26, 2011 7:52 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

Where are the Panthers?  Did you move them somewhere?

Since: Nov 21, 2010
Posted on: June 26, 2011 7:43 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

4 divisions, and 4 teams making the play-offs per division with intradivisional playoff series...  Isn't that what the NHL had in the 1990's?  Why did they ever get away from that?  Was it because Gary Bettman was a protege of David Stern?  Now that Stern's NBA is headed for contraction, Is Bettman trying to pretend that he never tried to copy the NBA?  Either way is fine with me, I just like it when multiple changes are made that cancel eachother out. 

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: June 26, 2011 7:07 pm

Reports: NHL looking at four-division realignment

What do i think. I think you might be mentally challenged. You put Dallas Tampa Carolina and Nashville in the same division... the divisions are made to make traveling easier on teams. Yet you want Carolina to travel to Dallas. That sure sounds convenient. Not only that Seattle... SLC, Kansas City and Milwaukee... you dont sound like you should be making opinions on hockey if you think SLC would make a good team.

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