Monday, December 5, 2011

Early Thoughts on Realignment

It has been reported on Twitter tonight that the NHL Board of Governors has agreed on a four-conference realignment to being next season. Here are your new conferences:

Conference 1: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, Colorado, Phoenix
Conference 2: Winnipeg, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Minnestoa
Conference 3: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa Bay
Conference 4: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Carolina, Washington

Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of the four conference/division split solely because it will require an overhaul of the current NHL playoff format, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs is probably the best playoff series in sports today. That being said, a lot of this makes sense. A lot does not. Conference 1 makes the most sense, keeps the west coast teams together, and really spreads out the travel requirements pretty evenly. I have issues with the rest. I would like to say that just swapping Columbus and Carolina would make a lot of sense, but that ignores Conference 3. I don't know what map they were looking at during the meetings, but having both Florida teams in a conference with three Canadian teams and two New England teams seems off. Here is how I would attempt to create a bit more common sense:

Conference 1: As is
Conference 2: Winnipeg, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Minnesota, Dallas
Conference 3: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, NY Rangers
Conference 4: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Carolina, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida

You still end up with two 8-team and two 7-team conferences, but the travel schedules make a little bit more sense. Dallas will have one less northern city to travel to by removing Columbus. The Rangers are reunited with three of the other Original Six teams, and Columbus is in a conference that makes a lot more geographic sense. Conference 4 essentially becomes a mash-up of the Atlantic and Southeast conferences, building on some already fairly strong rivalries and requiring a good bit less travel for the Florida teams. If the NHL is going to embrace some radical changes, let's try to make those changes work for everyone.

Old is new all over again.
Either way, in terms of the Caps, more games against the Penguins and Flyers means more fire for the rekindling of old Patrick Division rivalries. Really, I think Capitals fans might get the best end of the stick out of anyone in this realignment, as the Conference 4 teams feature a lot of rivalries, top-notch teams, and budding young talent. It will certainly be an exciting year for mid-Atlantic puckheads, that's for sure.

A lot of teams will be helped by the ratings, especially the southern teams and Columbus. Dallas, too, gets a bit of a break by being away from the Pacific Division teams. I would love to hear people's thoughts on this. To date, I have not had a single comment on any of my posts, and I think this one is prime fodder for a little debate amongst my few readers. So, comment away!

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