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Blog Entry

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Posted on: December 4, 2011 12:11 pm
 

By Brian Stubits

In the next few days, we might actually have some serious progression in the realignment talks. The Board of Governors are going to discuss that (among other things) in the next few days in Pebble Beach, Calif. ... assuming they can stay off the links.

Entering the meetings, there appeared to be two principle ideas at play in the realignment talks. The first was the simplest, moving Winnipeg to the West and putting Detroit in the Southeast, a one-way swap and that's it. Simple, clean-cut, but a bit messy when it's done. Teams in the West don't want to lose the Red Wings and they don't exactly seem to fit with the Southeast Division.

That led to a lot of people favoring a more "total realignment" in which the six-division format would be blown up in favor of a four-division look and balanced schedule. Heading into the meetings, this was considered to be the proposal for the four-division look. But the Penguins and Flyers weren'texactly on board with that one.

Now we have another idea floating, according to Elliote Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. This one is the same concept as the previous four-conference (notice the change in language) look, it just moves the teams separately. Notice how the Flyers and Penguins stay together along with the New York-area, Atlantic Division teams while Washington and Carolina join them. That leaves the five Northeast Division teams to join the two remaining Southeast Division teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning.

What's interesting to notice is that, in continuing to view it as an East and a West, the West becomes the bigger "conference." The two divisions with eight teams would be made up by the teams already in the West and Winnipeg, the reason for the card shuffling.

There is only so much you can do with the teams in the East while trying to keep the ones smack dab in the middle, geographically speaking, together. It does seem a bit inconvenient to put the two teams from Florida with the Canadian and Northeast teams. They already travel a lot, this would probably only increase that.

But they might fit a little better than you would originally think. There are large snowbird populations in Florida during the hockey season, and having lived in South Florida for nine years, I can tell you a lot of them hail from Quebec. Try and get tickets the day before a Canadiens-Panthers game at the BankAtlantic Center. You can't (at least through traditional means), the game will be sold out.

So this now begins to look like a slam dunk, right? The Red Wings at least get their home-and-home series with every team in the league, the Stars get into a more time-zone friendly "conference" and the playoffs return to their old divisional format and there is flexibility for a possible move of the Coyotes. All is good, right?

Not entirely.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that while they don't actually have a say in the matter, the NHL Players Association isn't fond of the plan. The reason? This will increase travelling for just about every team. That's one argument.

The other is the unfair nature of two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven. The teams in the seven-division format have greater odds to make the postseason. That's one reason why baseball recently flipped the Houston Astros to the American League West, to even out the odds of postseason play.

But something has to get done. No plan will sit well with every team involved, that's obvious. Remember, they just need to get a 2/3 majority among the BOG to push through a plan.

This one here seems as good as any. You could be looking at the future alignment of the NHL.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments
ALFIwantsout
Since: Sep 28, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:57 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:49 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Alright, I want my turn to make some people nod their heads in agreement while a number of others use my name in unkind ways.  I'm operating under the theory that the NHL isn't contracting two teams or expanding by two teams any time soon.  The contraction might be a smarter move, but we're not going to debate that because, for now, it's the ultimate academic exercise.  Two conferences with two divisions each creates an unbalanced schedule and unfair advantages for some teams trying to make the playoffs.  I think we have to look at two conferences with six divisions.

Wales Conference
Patrick Division -- Devils, Flyers, Islanders, Penguins & Rangers
Adams Division -- Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Sabres & Senators
Bowman Division -- Capitals, Hurricanes, Lightning, Panthers & Predators

Campbell Conference
Norris Division -- Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Blues, Red Wings & Wild
Smythe Division -- Avalanche, Canucks, Flames, Jets & Oilers
Imlach Division -- Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, Sharks & Stars


On the other hand, here's my try-to-keep-the-travel-as-balanced-

as-possible schedule.  Forget dividing the teams into east/west conferences.  Make the conferences north/south conferences.  If you construct a balanced schedule with northern and southern conferences, everybody is shlepping themselves from coast-to-coast throughout the season.

Northern Conference
Gretzky Division -- Canucks, Flames, Jets, Oilers & Wild
Orr Division -- Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Sabres & Senators
Howe Division -- Devils, Flyers, Islanders, Penguins & Rangers

Southern Conference
Roy Division -- Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, Sharks & Stars
Hasek Division -- Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Blues, Red Wings & Wild
Sawchuk Division -- Capitals, Hurricanes, Lightning, Panthers & Predators





Since: Feb 24, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:43 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

That proposed alignment would suck. Tampa Bay and Florida in the same conference as three of the Canada teams? Thats too much unneeded travel for inner conference play. Tampa Bay, Florida Carolina, Washington, NJ, Rangers and the Islanders would be better then Add Pittsburg and Phiily to the conference with the others.



Since: Jul 11, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:36 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

put the redwings in their own division, we will just travel all around North America kickin ass



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:34 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Doggy, thanks for a very cogent retort:
That said, I am not sure I subscribe to your notion that people go to games to see a specific player and not a specific team.

This is what these boards are all about; giving fans with different takes on a topic the chance to air their views.

(BTW, I spent years in NYC so I got to see the Sabres often in MSG, and against the Devils, Islanders, and Whalers.  Life was sweet when I could see my team a few times per year rather than, on average 1/2 game.)  I believe that you make a valid point, but I think if you back out the "favorite team" factor, that by and large fans do want to see a particular star.  If I have no particular rooting interest then I would like to see a renowned player rather than the team.
In Denver, how many Flames, Oilers, Wild, etc. games does one really want to see?  Especially if the playoff format were revamped where non-divisional games were given greater significance, then I believe that fans would turn out more often.  Non-divisional games would gain in intensity.  Within the context of this message thread, I believe that this should be given more thought; as it is, most are focused on geographical matters.

You've given one of the most thoughtful messages I have seen in some time.  It is a pleasure to state that I have some food for thought.



Since: Dec 4, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:17 am
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

That's what I've been thinking for awhile. Nashville to SE, Minnesota into Nashvilles current spot and Winnipeg into Minnesota's spot.



Since: Jul 28, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:33 am
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Right on!



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:31 am
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Ummm, what? Moving the two Florida teams into a conference with NE teams does not make sense. What makes more sense is moving a team like Nashville to the SE.



Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:35 am
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

BillsSabres-CO, obviously you are a relocated Sabres fan...and there are plenty of displaced fans all around the country.  That said, I am not sure I subscribe to your notion that people go to games to see a specific player and not a specific team.  Even you...I doubt you are not going to see Ryan Miller or Christian Ehrhoff specifically...you are more than likely going to see the Sabres...the whole team.  If Ryan Miller were traded to Colorado next year, I doubt you would be buying more Avs tix but if the Miller-less Sabres were in town four times a year you might buy tix four times a year.

I am also displaced, I am a Blue Jackets fan in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately the CBJ only make it to Boston once every two years.  I have luckily gotten to Philly and MSG to see them on two other occasions but I do empathize with you.  To further my point, when seeing the CBJ in Columbus, I would much rather see St Louis or Nashville rather than Alex Ovechkin and the Caps or Steven Stamkos and Tampa.  Why?  Because of intensity...the games are always tenser vs divisional rivals than it is against inter-conference opponents.  Habs-Bruins, Rangers-Islanders, Edmonton-Calgary, Ottawa-Toronto, etc...much better than Anaheim-Carolina.

I am all for evening out the schedule...I just think your reasoning is flawed.





Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:28 am
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

The worst thing the league can do is have more teams in one conference than the other.  End the insanity please.

I hope whatever structure they adopt, that they account for Phoenix' impending move the following year.

Personally I would move Colombus to the Southeast and call it a day.  I'm sure Detroit will continue to kick and scream like a petulant child and get its way yet again though (just like how they got OT rules changed because they'd done poorly in the prior season under the old rules)


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