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.


Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:26 am

All Canadian teams in one division

Put all Canadian teams in one division!

Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

East: Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Central: Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
West: Anaheim, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Phoenix, San Jose

If Phoenix moves to Canada, move them to the Canada division and move St. Louis to the West.

Instead of conferences, just have the four divisional champions as the top four seeds.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:02 am

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Sorry, don't agree with contraction. (less teams, better players per team thinking....WRONG)

I think that serious discussion about contraction is moot for the reason I posted below.  One of the surest ways for a company to fail is to expand too aggressively.  This is especially true if they move into markets where their product is not already well-known and where there is a demonstrated demand for their product.  This axiom of business applies to the NHL just as it does for any other business.

Failing teams - and the NHL has a few - are more than just an embarrassment and a distraction to the league.  They dilute the perceived value of the product the NHL puts out.  If people think that hockey is feeble they will not buy tickets, (that's an established bane for some teams).  Your point number one simply does not follow a logical progression.

I believe that the real reason that the league is promulgating a four-division alignment is to permit more balanced scheduling.  That will help sell more tickets.  The interest in going to games is largely motivated by the opportunity to see a particular player or two; it is not because people are anxious to see any given team.  Clearly if there were fewer teams then there would be more star-power on some teams.  Again, this would help sell more tickets.  (Of course if the Sabres were to play in Denver every year, I would buy at least one more Avs ticket.)  Your second point does not hold up under closer scrutiny.

There is an important element left out of the equation for your third point.  If there were fewer teams, and assuming that roster sizes were not increased, then there would be a lot fewer players drawing NHL paychecks.  Money is what matters after you pay expenses.

I do not think that anyone is taking things to the extent that you suggest in point four.  No one is asking for perfection; that would violate natural law.  Players will make mistakes and when one's team capitalizes on that it makes for exciting hockey.  However, I would much rather watch a well-played game by closely matched teams compared to a drubbing.  When fewer players are spread over fewer teams then the average quality of play may be very reasonably be expected to rise.  That would be the logical extension of fewer teams; more exciting hockey games.

I am not attempting to rip you here, Qball.  We just do not share views and I appreciate the opportunity to express mine.  I will repeat what I said at the beginning; the point is moot because it is highly unlikely that it will ever happen.

Since: Feb 7, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:59 am

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

So what if there's 16 teams in one conference and 14 in the other? Baseball survived for a long time that way, and no one complained about it until the Astros were forced to join the American League for 2013.

There's still baseball?!  Huh.  Guess I've been trying too hard lately to pay attention to things that don't completely suck... at least since I was 10, anyway.

Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:06 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Sorry, don't agree with contraction. (less teams, better players per team thinking....WRONG)


1) More markets = more exposure = more minor hockey development = more fans = more money

2) Even if they eliminated 2, 3 or 4 teams, people would STILL complain about bad, lazy, untalented players. Even if you had 700superstars playing in a league, there will always be the cream and bottom feeders. Same with a league with all lower level players. Take the  AHL, WHL, OHL, etc., there are stars and bums on every team. .

3) MONEY..... Potential TV and Online viewing contracts both in the US and in Europe.....Because of hockeys european connections, I always wonder why the NHL hasn't yet signed  some huge billion dollar deal like what the NFL has set up, where every team makes money, no matter how many show up for the games.   

4) What would happen if every player made no mistakes while playing? BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 0 - 0 scores every nite. Sorry, 1 - 0 scores with the shootout. It's good to have some lower level players in the NHL, it makes the stars look better when they burn some defensemen with a slick deke between the legs move. 

Probably think of some more reasons but have to go, Simpson's are on now.

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2011 10:47 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

I wonder why all the Detroit fans wan the Wings in a different conference than the Blackhawks??

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2011 10:18 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

If they do go with the four division alignment then the playoffs then the division winners should be slotted #1 and #2.  Then #8 plays #1, #7 vs. #2, #6 vs. #5, and #4 vs. #3.

Obviously, this is not what I meant to write, but hopefully the intent was clear.  But just to be sure.  The division winner with the best record should be seeded #1, and the other division winner #2.  Then the playoff seedings should be: #1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, and #4 vs. #5.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2011 10:12 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Shink the league by 2 teams, Bettmen caused this problem by over-expanding the league and putting NHL hockey in places that couldn't support it. My suggestions, eliminate one team from the state of Florida, the state can't and won't support 2 teams, even when they're winning, they have trouble selling out. Then eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets, they're the next team headed towards financial problems and the city won't support a losing team.
Sorry, but it makes too much sense to eliminate two teams and create four seven-team divisions.  It isn't going to happen, IMO, because then the big wigs would be implicitly admitting failure.  I am not even going to get into which two teams would go, because why pizz off fans over something that's not going to happen.

It is pretty clear that hockey in the desert is not working, so moving PHX is the key.  If in all probability, they end up in Quebec City, then they are the Western team to replace Winnipeg in the East.  If they move to, let's say Kansas City, then moving Columbus to the East is the most logical change.

Besides resolving the imbalance that having Winnipeg in the SE created, the real driver here should be to play a much more balanced schedule.  It is ludicrous that I can only see the Sabres in Denver once every other year.  I think that this is the real reason why they want to go to four divisions; it will make more balanced scheduling easier.  It's true; the West has a built in disadvantage compared to Eastern teams in travel & expenses.  They tried to snow us by saying the imbalanced schedule would promote rivalries.  The actual result is that it has reduced league revenues.

If they do go with the four division alignment then the playoffs then the division winners should be slotted #1 and #2.  Then #8 plays #1, #7 vs. #2, #6 vs. #5, and #4 vs. #3.  The suggestion that the top four teams in each division is asking for trouble.  Properly seeding the playoffs would eliminate the inherent unfairness that the teams in seven-team divisions.  (After all, this is the reason why the Houston Astros are being moved into MLB's NL.)

Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: December 4, 2011 9:46 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Although I have included my proposed division alignment changes which are easy
to implement and make sense, I would love to see:

1) Because Hockey has so much tradition, rename the divisions back to
Smythe, Norris, Patrick and Adams.
With 6 divisions, call the others divisions Gretzky and Bowman.

2) Top 2 teams in each division make playoffs with 4 wildcard spots, no matter the division.

3) Dear NHL, Please, ..... PLEASE Eliminate the conferences. Go with just divisions.
Top Team during reg. season play No. 16, No. 2 vs 15, etc. etc, etc.

Anyways, this is what I come up with.

Western Conference

 - Calgary Flames
 - Winnipeg Jets
 - Edmonton Oilers
 - Minnesota Wild
 - Vancouver Canucks

All teams aready have good rivalries going.
The west Canadian teams are all bunched in one division, which
solves the problem of US teams not wanting Canadian teams in their division. 
Minnesota is hockey mad, doesn't matter where they are placed, the fans will come.
Besides, Minny is pretty well in Canada.

- Chicago Blackhawks
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Detroit Red Wings
- Colorado Avalanche
- St. Louis Blues

Detriot should be happy with less travel, everyone is close regarding time zones.

- Anaheim Ducks
- Los Angeles Kings
- Phoenix Coyotes
- San Jose Sharks
- Dallas Stars

Rename Pacific to Southwest....all is good for each team. When Phoenix moves to KC, easy swap to move Colorado in this division, KC to the Central (KC/St Louis battles would be awesome).

Eastern Conference

- New Jersey Devils
- New York Islanders
- New York Rangers
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Pittsburgh Penguins

'nuff said.

- Boston Bruins
- Buffalo Sabres
- Montreal Canadiens
- Ottawa Senators
- Toronto Maple Leafs

Thanks to Lucic and Miller, Habs/Bruins matches, Ontario fans supporting Ottawa, Leafs and Sabres, this division works well.

 Carolina Hurricanes
 Florida Panthers
 Tampa Bay Lightning
 Washington Capitals
 Nashville Predators

Easy and natural transition for Nashville.

I will Occupy the NHL until these changes happen.

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: December 4, 2011 9:45 pm

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

Would like to see





Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2011 7:59 pm

Swapping one team from West to East

If you are just swapping one team, why should it be Nashville instead of Columbus?  The difference in mileage to Washington, Carolina, Tampa, and Florida is 180 total miles.  Columbus is closer to Washington and Carolina by a combined 365 miles and Nashville is closer to Tampa and Florida by a combined 545 miles.

Since the teams would be flying to those destinations, the extra mileage is moot...however...Nashville is in the Central time zone while Columbus is in the Eastern time zone.  Nashville having to play in the Western Conference having the majority of its games in the Central, Rocky, and Pacific time zones is not nearly as much of a hardship on them than it would be for Columbus.

Columbus is actually farther East than Atlanta..the team they would be replacing in the Eastern Conference.

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