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.

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


Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 6:02 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Get stuffed, you Tebow-loving d-bag.  

Since: Jul 22, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:41 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

I'm so happy I stopped watching hockey... what a bunch o' morons!!

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:28 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

I admit, I do like some of the realignment and geographics of things...I will say though that I do not like having the 2 7's and 2 8's and each conference automatically sending 4 teams.  Half of the teams will make it in 2 conferences, while more than half will make it in the other.  It is quite possible that teams with sub .500 records could go to the playoffs while more deserving teams will be sent home.  Look at the NBA, the Eastern conference year in and year out sends teams to the playoffs with sub .500 records to the playoffs as they clearly shouldn't be there...the Western conference see's teams with 45+ wins not make it even though they clearly should be a part of the equation.  Perhaps the NHL could send 3 teams from each conference and then the next 4 teams go in based off of the points system?

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:57 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

If they'd just switch out lightning and panthers for a N.Y. team and philadelphia or pittsburgh that'd make more sense
geographically it would, but as you can see by the conferences they made an attempt to keep the biggest rivalries together.  the Atlantic division itself is almost a 5-way rivalry.  Philadelphia-NY(both of them) Philadelphia-Pitt, Philadelphia-NJ, NJ-NY(both of them).  That's one of the league's biggest moneymakers.  --Blitzylvania

Agreed. Also, gmalis1 is mistaken in his opinion that the two Florida teams "got screwed" in this deal. Floridian hockey fans are transplants, many of them immersed in the mystique of the Original Six. All of those games with three of those six--the Bruins, Habs, and Leafs--will do wonders for their gate.

As for the travel issues, the biggest objections of clubs like Detroit concerned East-West travel across multiple time zones, especially when games are crowded together. Jet lag is a killer, making extra losses pretty much inevitable. Now, even the flight distances are doled out more fairly. Outside of the Mid-Atlantic grouping, which will always be advantaged by geography, the two other Eastern conferences each have two outlying cities at distances of roughly 1000-1300 air miles, which corresponds roughly to a Vancouver-Phoenix trip. So, it's about as fair as it can be made. Nothing's perfect; ideally, there'd be 28 or 32 teams, but that's a legacy price of greed and foolishness. The expansion teams in the era of Gretzky lost their way in the ice fog that arose from all of those Zambonis, while their entrance fees went straight into the pocket of the then-current owners. (The sports version of the asset price inflation that recently laid the world economy low. Bubbles get popped, be they real estate or pro hockey expansion Ponzi schemes. Come to that, such underlay the recent unpleasantness hardline stance of the NBA's owners. Their gate came down when the economy went sour, so they had to confront the ugly reality that some of them had spent entirely to much when they recently bought their franchises. Loath to dip into their own pockets or even acknowledge that their own stupidity and greed led them to overpay, they resolved to solve their problems on the backs of their employees. As IF the fact that they'd overpayed for their toys was the players fault. It wasn't the business that was costing them money, it was their own idiocy that had already led them to squander it, up front.)

Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:49 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Hockey1955...I UNconcur.

Love almost all of what the NHL has agreed to.

Other than the extra team in 2 conferences (a
big yoop about nothing) all 4 conferences are going to
be treated the same, so THANK EFFIN TEBOW 
that there is no longer an east vs west Stanley Cup
match up being FORCED on us. If it happens, fine.
But to see the semi-finals (it's NOT called the FINAL
FOUR you BBall brained morons!!) and SC finals
possibly include teams that NEVER EVER had a
chance to match up before, that will be totally
awesome. Wished they would only have 1 playoff
round per conference, then match 1 seed vs 8
seed, etc. This would potentially allow for any
2 teams still alive to meet after that.

IMO, 4 division names will be updated from the old
names  such as Norris, Smythe, etc. to be called
Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe, Orr, Bettman,.......
sorry, I meant Bowman Divisions.

Since: Mar 30, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:11 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

i am confused on the matter as well. 5 games a year so one has to get screwed with one less home game.

i like the west coast butt he wings were screwed several years when it was them and the cali teams in the playoffs. Every round west coat eact coast trip wears down. Meanwhile the other teams were playing La sharks etc and didnt have the travel wear.
unbalanced conferences is the main issue here also and if travel is the big problem why screw the canadian teams?

Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:52 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

"This just in to the sports desk...Who gives a rats furry a s s "  !  It's hockey

Since: May 26, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:46 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

Not a big fan of the new proposal and here's why:

1 Uneven teams in two conferences, eight teams in the other two.  Don't like it, at all.  Gives an unfair advantage to the East Conference teams, where six teams don't make the playoffs vs. eight teams that don't make the playoffs in the West.  Either add two more teams (heaven forbid), or contract two teams and make the NHL 28 teams, with 7 teams in each conference.

2 More uneven scheduling.  So, the West teams will play everyone in their conference five times (5 x 7 = 35), plus two games home and home against the other three conferences (2 x 22 = 44), resulting in 79 games.  What happened to the rest of the games in the schedule?  Didn't the hockey season usually have 82 games?  Where will those three games go?  Uneven amount of games within the conference (some teams five games, others six)?  Plus, five games vs each conference team?  Who decides who gets the extra home game?  Doesn't work out to be fair at all.  Plus, each team currently plays the other teams in it's division six it goes down to five?  Really?  

3 As a Hawks fan, I enjoy playing Vancouver, Phoenix, San Jose, Anaheim, Calgary and Edmonton four times a year.  Now, it get's to be a home and home for only two games?  I don't like it at all.   

4 The playoff setting is even worse.  The top four teams from each conference make the playoffs?  This is a total mess, because you know that right away a fifth place team in one conference will miss the playoffs despite having more points then a fourth place team in another conference.  And let the wailing begin there, and rightfully so.  And taking the top 8 from the East and the top 8 from the West will have no substantive meaning since there is really no head to head comparison or strength of that doesn't work either.  Then reseeding the teams for the final four in the  By points?  By East vs West?  Makes no sense, either way.  I enjoy the top eight in each conference getting to the playoffs as they have it now.  And with six games against intradivisional teams and four games against the other division in the conference, it is equitible.  

5 The time zone/travel crap is just that...crap.  Detroit is in the Eastern time zone.  Big deal.  They are 35 minutes from Chicago, so travel times are really no different than the Hawks, or the Blues or the Wild.  What this appeases is the fans, who heaven forbid, have to stay up an extra hour to watch games on the West Coast.  Boo hoo.

6 Logical choice was to swap out Winnipeg for Detroit or Columbus or Nashville.  Why fix what isn't broken?  Besides, Phoenix is dead in the water as a when they move east (Quebec or Hamilton), they could move to the East and move Winnipeg to the West.  Done.  Simple.  Instead, mess up everthing.   Typical NHL thinking, just plain stupid.  

7 Two Florida teams get screwed, as do the Canadian teams.  Travel from Florida up and down the East Coast for five teams three times each?  Doesn't make sense, but having hockey in Florida makes no sense either.  So I guess it's kind of a "too bad" situation for them.  You want hockey in Florida...we'll stick it to you so you pay the price.

8 Quit harping on the inane All Star Game.  Someone actually watches that dog?  It's not a game, it's a shootarama, boring as hell and not even close to fun to watch.  Here's my solution for those that care to watch an all star game....pick up game among those voted in.  Simpe...Done. 

Sure to have more on this later. 

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:40 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

FAN-tastic!   Best move in years!  If you are over 30, you remember the divsional playoff match-ups were EPIC!!  Talk about rivalries ramping up.  As a Bruins fan, playinh Montreal for 10 straight years in the playoffs was a rite of passage.  Though they've played a few times since the realignment in 1994, this will make for intersting positioning story lines with the regular season waning.  Also this could infuse some much needed rivalry passion for the newer teams.  I agree bring back the Adams, Patrick, Norris, and Smythe names. And the Final Four seedings should be based on best record.  1 vs 4  2 vs 3.  As an enticement, 2-3-2 format should be permanent for the Final Four and Stanley Cup.. get rid of the conference trophies because no one respects it anyway!

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:54 am

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

If they'd just switch out lightning and panthers for a N.Y. team and philadelphia or pittsburgh that'd make more sense
geographically it would, but as you can see by the conferences they made an attempt to keep the biggest rivalries together.  the Atlantic division itself is almost a 5-way rivalry.  Philadelphia-NY(both of them) Philadelphia-Pitt, Philadelphia-NJ, NJ-NY(both of them).  That's one of the league's biggest moneymakers. 

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