Blog Entry

The need for NHL Realignment

Posted on: May 17, 2011 3:57 pm
With the NHL now actively considering relocation of the Coyotes, Thrashers and Blue Jackets in recent years, one of the hot topics has become how the conferences and divisions will be designed if teams do indeed move.  The current structure dates back to 1993, and was designed to make more sense geographically.  The number of teams per division (5) has had mixed results, and the number of games a team plays against a divisional opponent was rolled back in 2008 to be only 6.

The implications of teams moving might not be so clear.  The desire for parity of schedule and the number of divisional games played will likely be high.  But even one single team moving will cause quite a disturbance, unless the NHL is willing to go back to somewhat unbalanced divisions. 

For example. if the Coyotes move to Kansas City in 2012 and the Thrashers move to Winnipeg in 2011, the result might be such that:

1) The KC Coyotes enter the Central Division, Western Conference.
2) The WPG Thrashers enter the Northwest Division, Western Conference.
3) The Vancouver Canucks would enter the Pacific Division, filling the Coyotes' void.
4) The NSH Predators would enter the Southeast Division, filling the Thrashers' void.
5) All 6 divisions would have the same number of teams- 5.

The geographic integrity of the league is mostly preserved doing something like this, but is it fair ?  Why should any team, especially one like Vancouver with its existing Canadian rivalries with Edmonton and Calgary, be made to switch divisions to accomodate the relocations, all in the name of parity.  What does everyone think of this strategy ?

Wouldn't it be simpler to admit that the 6-division structure is a bust, and return to the pre-1993 structure of four divisions, roughly separated into N.American continental quadrants ?  We could even return to the old names- Patrick, Smythe, Adams and Norris, but don't have to.  The only real issue, would be that with 30 teams, two divisions would have only 7 teams while the other two would have 8.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it leaves the door open to possible expansion.  Here's my proposal for a 4 Division realignment:

Eastern Conference 

Northeast Divsion (Adams)
-Boston Bruins
-Montreal Canadiens
-New York Islanders
-New York Rangers
-Toronto Maple Leafs
-Buffalo Sabres
-Ottawa Senators
-empty (possibly another team in S. Ontario or Quebec in future)

Atlantic Division (Patrick)
-Washington Capitals
-New Jersey Devils
-Philadelphia Flyers
-Carolina Hurricanes
-Tampa Bay Lightning
-Florida Panthers
-Pittsburgh Penguins
-Nashville Predators

Western Conference 

Central Divsion (Norris)
-Chicago Blackhawks
-Columbus Blue Jackets
-St. Louis Blues
-Kansas City Coyotes (relocated Coyotes)
-Winnipeg Jets (relocated Thrashers)
-Detroit Red Wings
-Minnesota Wild
-Dallas Stars

Pacific Divsion (Smythe)
-Colorado Avalanche
-Vancouver Canucks
-Anaheim Ducks
-Calgary Flames
-Edmonton Oilers
-San Jose Sharks
-Los Angeles Kings
-empty (possible future team in Houston, San Antonio or Sacramento?)

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 6:01 pm

The need for NHL Realignment


The whole point of the realignment is that some rivalries will be upset.  Sorry if you don't agree, but the Devils-Rangers/Isles rivalry is not one of the biggest.  The Atlantic (Patrick) Division did used to include:


With the advent of the Canes moving south, the SE Division was created, so maybe it could stop at 8 teams?  No, because there is still Nashville and Columbus to consider.

I've heard the Red Wings moving-back-to-the-East "promise", but find no basis for any agreement.  My guess is that the Thrashers and Coyotes' movements will be 1-for-1 substitutions across the two conferences, with minimal upset of the existing structure, so I wouldn't worry in any case.  This won't be considered a major realignment, unfortunately.

Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:53 pm

The need for NHL Realignment

a little harsh, Jeff- i dont want the Predators to get away from the Central, but this is far from idiotic. Wait until the Pac-10 or 12 or whateverthey will call themselves get going. colorado and utah make less sense than this guy.

We dont all travel by stagecoach like in them olden days, so that wagon train out west isnt as bad as it used to be.

c'mon, the future isnt too bad.

Since: Jul 12, 2010
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:09 pm

The need for NHL Realignment

Your plan is idiotic and will never fly.  You cannot separate the Devils from their NY rivals.  Period.  The Devils have to be in the same groupings as Rangers and Islanders.  That is a no brainer and once that happens, Philadelphia must be in that grouping too.  Also, according to several sources, the Red Wings were promised they would be allowed to return to their roots in the East the next time the league re-aligns. 

So come up with something that makes more sense.

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