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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Comments

Since: Jan 11, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:34 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

"This is garbage!  The two westernmost conferences each have 8 teams and the two easternmost each have 7 teams.  The top 4 teams from each of the 4 new conferences make the playoffs, meaning Vancouver and all western teams get the shaft!  Only 50% of the Western Teams make the playoffs, while 57% of the Eastern teams do.  Toronto only has to beat out three teams to make the playoffs, the Canucks have to beat out 4 teams.  That's retarded."


Keep in mind that this is most likely a temporary situation, created by the fact that Phoenix is expected to move east (hopefully Quebec City) within the next year or two. Also, with the uneven number of teams, both expansion (let's hope not, over expansion is the real reason for this mess) and contraction (be best option to remove failing teams in bad markets).

The current situation sets up a schedule like this: all teams will play each out-of-conference team 2 (home and home), creating 46 games for teams in conferences of 7 (23 teams, 2 against each) and 44 games for those in 8 team conferences (22 teams, 2 against each). Conferences of 7 will also play a triple home and home against conference opponents for another 36 game (6 teams, 6 games each) for a total of 82 games. Conferences of 8 will play 5 games against 4 teams and 6 games against the other 3 teams for 38 games making their 82 game schedule. This keeps the length of the season the way it is now, followed by 4 playoff rounds, conference semi-finals and finals, then a Stanley Cup semi-final where the 4 conference champions will be seed 1 through 4, with the 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 format, the winners will play for the Stanly Cup.

Expansion will lengthin the season by 8 games, 48 against out-of-conference teams (24 teams 2 against each) and 42 in-conference games (7 teams 6 gaems against each). As big a hockey fan as I am, I feel that the current 82 game schedule is long enough.

Contraction will shorten the season by just 4 games, 42 against out-of-conferene teams (21 teams 2 against each) and 36 in conferecnce games (6 teams 6 against each). Big deal, 1 less week of hockey.




Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:01 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Right, and break up the Rangers/Islanders/Devils/Flyers/Pen

guins.

Genius



Since: Feb 5, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:48 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

The Florida teams have ticket issues. This "conference" is the best thing that could have happened. They are playing the teams that fill the seats more often. Lots of retires down there from up north, mainly toronto and montreal, only buy tickets to see them play. These clubs are going to move into the safe zone.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:29 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Why is Winnipeg and Dallas in the same conference as Detroit and Chicago. They should have Toronto in there instead with maybe Montreal.


Becasue of the time zone....if you move Montreal or Toronto you have the same issue the league and teams were looking to avoid and thats a time zone issue with a team you must play multiple times.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:25 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Only 50% of the Western Teams make the playoffs, while 57% of the Eastern teams do.  Toronto only has to beat out three teams to make the playoffs, the Canucks have to beat out 4 teams.  That's retarded.  


Good thing every team plays an equal amount of games over the course of the year and the playoffs are determined by a teams overall record. So it should not matter that there is one extra team in your conferance because if your record is good enough then you'll make the playoffs.



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:21 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

This isn't what the Red Wings wanted. All they had to do was move Winnipeg to the West and The Red Wings to the East then the Red Wings would have been happy and you could have named it the Little Caesars East....lol
Bettman is just screwing this game up



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:20 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Like another poster stated, you could never please everyone. I think the new alignment is okay, but one change I'd make is swapping the NY and Florida teams.



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:14 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Why is Winnipeg and Dallas in the same conference as Detroit and Chicago. They should have Toronto in there instead with maybe Montreal.
That means every year that Chicago or Detroit will win there conference because the other 6 teams stick.
Then he has Philadelphia, New Jersey,Pittsburgh,Washington,Rangers all in one conference fighting for one spot according to the way he has the playoffs laid out.

Bettman you are wrecking a game I grew watching and playing with your stupid @***



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:13 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

I'm not so sure why people are so hot on the idea of an all-Canadian conference in the future. That would just re-create the timezone issue all over again.




Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:12 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

This is garbage!  The two westernmost conferences each have 8 teams and the two easternmost each have 7 teams.  The top 4 teams from each of the 4 new conferences make the playoffs, meaning Vancouver and all western teams get the shaft!  Only 50% of the Western Teams make the playoffs, while 57% of the Eastern teams do.  Toronto only has to beat out three teams to make the playoffs, the Canucks have to beat out 4 teams.  That's retarded.  

They should have kept it as two conferences, each with 15 teams.  Split the 4 divisions just like they did, execept put Winnipeg in with Toronto etc instead of being in the west.  Then you have Western conference with 8 & 7 teams, and Eastern Conference with 8 & 7 teams.  Then instead of top 4 in each, just keep it as top 8 in total.  No disadvantage for one conference over the other, Winnipeg gets to have rivalries with Canadian teams, and almost the exact alignment they had anyways.  That would be way better!



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