The NHL's Board of Governors approved a radical realignment plan Monday night. This new realignment would see the NHL shift away from the conference format back towards the divisional format we’ve missed so much.
So what will they be? I haven’t heard anything about how they will be named but this is the layout we are looking at.
A) Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers
B) Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators
C) Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs
D) New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes
Notice, there are two divisions with eight teams and two divisions with 7 teams.
So how does this all work?
Teams would play six games against conference foes (three home, three away) and two games (one home, one away) against out of conference opponents each year. Fans have long argued that they should have the opportunity to see every team in their own building once a year and with this realignment, we will get just that.
The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs where #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3. When a winner emerges from each division, the four remaining teams will be re-seeded based on total points, or something that has to still be worked out by the general managers. The two remaining teams would then play each other in the Stanley Cup Finals. So it is very possible to see some bizarre matchups for the cup, like Vancouver/Chicago or New York/ Montreal or Detroit/Colorado (wouldn’t that have been something in the late 90’s!!)
So a few thoughts…
The playoffs become much more regionalized and we are pretty much guaranteed that games in the first two rounds will be nasty rival games since we play our own division. While we could meet the Flyers and the Rangers in the same playoff year under the current system, it rarely happens but will be a very good possibility under the new system.
I hope that the NHL goes the whole distance with this and brings back Smythe, Norris, Patrick and Adams for the names of the divisions and hopefully we end up back in the Patrick Division.
Call me a homer but I see Division D, the one that the Devils have been placed in as the hardest division in the league. No one can argue that the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals are going to be stiff competition for one of the 4 spots that get to play in the postseason but let’s not forget about the Hurricanes who have put together some good seasons as well. And yes, I am taking a big dump on the Islanders, well because they are the Islanders and haven’t really been relevant in a long time. Not to say they couldn’t turn it around but Garth Snow could possibly be the worst GM in the league.
Sorry, I’ve digressed.
Try to find a tougher division and make your argument but Division D is a very tough division to play in.
The one thing I don’t like about the realignment is that some interesting matchups we see now will only happen twice a season. Montreal/New York, Philly/Boston and Colorado/Detroit come to mind right away.
I know the NHL is saying every team in every building but I am missing something when I break out the old calculator. 6 other teams in our division x 6 games each = 36 games. 8 teams in Division A & B x 2 games per team = 32 games. 7 teams in Division C x 2 games per team = 14 games. Add all that together and we get 82 games but if you do the math for a team in an 8 team division, we end up with 86 games needed.
It looks as if Division C or Division D, most likely C, is setup to add Quebec once the Coyotes move out from the desert.
All in all I am in favor of this. I never really understood why we moved away from this type of format to begin with. So what do you think? Do you like it? Do you think we consistently miss the playoffs and watch New York, Washington, Pittsburgh and Philly compete in our division come the post-season? Would you go back to the old naming scheme?