Blog Entry

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 1:50 pm

By Brian Stubits

Look what the Winnipeg Jets started.

Realignment is coming to the NHL, and as was predicted, it's of the "total" variety.

Easy but incomplete ideas were floated (swapping either Detroit, Nashville or Columbus with Winnipeg in the Southeast and calling it a day), but in the end it was the big idea that won out. With Gary Bettman pushing it, you knew it would.

Gone are the days of divisions in hockey. The NHL will return to four conferences starting next season (names undetermined as of yet, but you can bet they will likely be historic). Two of the four divisions will have eight teams, two will have seven. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played entirely within the conference before re-seeding in the third round, or Final Four, if you will. The NHL hasn't said yet how it plans to re-seed at that point, a decision will come later regarding that part.

It will also bring a schedule where every team will play a home and away with every other team.

Here is the proposal that was passed in a little less than an hour and with a 26-4 vote.

I can hear everybody now. Why didn't they just go the easy route? The short answer: politics. Well that and time zones.

"We had a number of clubs that were unhappy with the current state of affairs," commissioner Bettman said at the news conference to announce the realignment.

The Detroit Red Wings have a lot of clout. As an Original Six team who has done a lot of winning, that comes with the territory. They have long wanted to move to the East and have been very vocal about Bettman promising as such. That's complication No. 1 and it's alleviated. The Red Wings now will only play one game at each Western Canada and California arena.

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The same goes for the Blue Jackets, who don't carry the same clout but had the same concerns.

"This is a fantastic night for the Blue Jackets," Blue Jackets president Mike Priest said.

Complication No. 2 was the existence of teams like the Dallas Stars playing their road games two time zones away or in the case of the Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, playing a lot of road games three time zones away. By this grouping, teams are grouped with much more consideration to time zones. So while the idea of an Eastern Conference and Western Conference are gone, the Red Wings and Jackets get their end goal and will play with teams in the Eastern time zone and Central time zone a lot more.

Complication No. 3? Detroit isn't in the Southeast. But you knew that.

So we end up with this layout. There are honestly a lot more positives than negatives in this. The biggest consideration, time zones, was taken care of. Now the teams out West won't feel as big of a disadvantage as they do now. Despite having more teams in their new conferences, it was an easy sell for for the 15 teams that currently call the Western Conference home.

This really does seem like the best solution to please the most teams. The biggest problems I see? First is for the teams in the two eight-team conferences. They face longer odds than the other half of the league to make the postseason.

The second? The only teams that really seemed to get jobbed by the arrangement are the two teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning. Not counting each other, their closest division foes are in Buffalo and Boston.

Of course, one benefit to this new design is that it allows for flexibility in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes moving East. It would be as simple as putting them in a seven-team conference with the other Canadian teams if they were to, say, move to Quebec City.

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Since: Jun 22, 2010
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:50 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

As a Minnesota fan I can say I will miss those late west coast games, for me there is nothing better then having the wife and kid go to bed and then getting to sit down and watch the whole hockey game. I also do not like the 4 division, it seems to me(its possible I could have missed something) but there will still be a west and east conference, with both 8 team divisions in the west. That means in the East more teams make the playoff than miss out! And I am sick of the upper east coast running everything, I think its a bunch of crap too completely screw two teams (Tampa Bay and Florida) to please the money on the east coast. That is all.

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:50 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

In any case, I have not seen how the NHL will structure the All-Star Game now that there is more than 2 conferences (Round-Robin tourney?). It's the least of the concerns & easily resolved. Still, I guess the 2 geographically Western Conferences will play the 2 Eastern?
Probably something similar to last year where the All-Stars were picked league-wide instead of by conference, and then captains were named who then randomly pick names from a pile of hockey sticks.

Since: Jan 11, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:42 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

A Phoenix move to Quebec City is simple. Quebec city goes in with Montreal, Boston, etc and you still have 2 8's and 2 7's

Since: Jan 3, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:37 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Hmmm, interesting. 

So now what happens when Phoenix moves to Quebec City?


Since: Oct 6, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:32 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Montreal in the same conference as the Florida teams?I am glad Chicago and Detroit are in the same conference as well as Pittsburgh and Philadephia.

Since: Dec 5, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:21 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Darn tootin

Since: Dec 5, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:17 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

I like LeBruns plan, much more logistical 

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:15 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Putting florida with the leafs and habs means only one thing. Money the panthers are not selling out and this is possibly the last straw for fans to come and watch the panthers. Thats my opinion what do you guys think?

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:14 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Bring back Patrick, Adams, Smythe, and Norris!

Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:06 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

This a great move by the NHL, especially for teams in the Western Conference.  Not only will fans get an opportunity to see every team in the league in their own arena, but aligning by time zone will allow fans to see more of their team without spending so many nights up until the wee hours.  I also believe that this move will move increase the fan base as schedules will become more fan friendly as well as travel friendly.

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