Dramatic Realignment Coming

According to a source at the NHL Draft this past week, there has been a drastic idea to change the divisions for the 2012-13 season.

An NHL executive that was quoted annonymously said that Gary bettman has proposed a system where there are still the Eastern and Western Conferences, but each conference will have only two divisions.

The West would have the Pacific and Midwest, and the East would have the East and the South.

In this scenario it was said that both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings would move to the Eastern Conference, which makes you wonder what the divisions would look like next year. Obviously with an odd number of teams, a division in each conference would have one extra team (eight and seven).

The only thing that concerns me is that the top four in each division would make the playoffs. I find this rule almost as stupid as the "division leader is top three" one. I think the division leader should make the playoffs automatically, but in the right seeding.

It's the same scenario here; it should be ther top eight teams in each conference no matter what position you finish in your division. FOr example, the 5th place team in Division A could have more points than the 4th place team in Division B, but the one with the lesser amount of points makes it. Doesn't seem fair to me!

According to the map I have of all the teams, I don't see a way to put both Detroit and Columbus into the East because one team from the East would need to move to the West, which makes no sense.

This is my version of what the divisions will look like in 2012-13:

Eastern Conference
East Division: Toronto, Boston, Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal, New Jersey, New York I, New York R

South Division: Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit

Western Conference
Pacific Division: Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix

Midwest Division: Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus

Only time will tell how this all goes down (with Phoenix's buyer stepping away it could get really interesting). What happens next year?

Kyle Busch
www.thecheckingline.com
www.twitter.com/KyleBusch11

30 Comments

George Prax's picture

I actually heard this realignment was proposed by the Blue Jackets, and that the conferences would be 16-14 instead of having one division with an odd-number of teams in each. that would allow both the Jackets and Detroit to enter the East. Frankly I don't see the league letting Detroit into the east before Columbus, because, let's face it, it's pretty obvious that Columbus needs this much more than Detroit.

I think if they do this the playoff format should be the top team in each divisioon, then five teams in any order from, each conference, and the final four spots would be decided by an overall wildcard with the winning teams getting the choice of which conference they want to be seeded in, in order.

evilbobsaget's picture

Got a better idea. Just do away with divisions and keep conferences.

Detroit is an original 6 draw for the west teams. I have a hard time believing that they will split Chicago from Detroit.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

That's the only reason they aren't letting Detroit go. Detroit sells tickets. In Phoenix they sell the place out with Wings fans!

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Everytime I go over this I keep on thinking how great it would be and how bad it would be. The best scenario is tough to decide upon. Will Phoenix go to Quebec City, or another Ontario city, maybe Portland or Seattle. How much longer can hockey thrive in south beach? Frankly, let Detroit move east and lets just get on with it. Take out the divisions and let teams just play if that is going to be the case though. It doesn't kill any rivalries, in fact a few less games can create a better atmosphere.

George Prax's picture

Phoenix isn't going to Quebec City. No matter what the media tries to make us believe, they're not ready for a team and won't be for at least five years. Winnipeg already has an arena and a group that's been trying to get a team there for the better part of the last decade.

QC has annoying mayors and MPs who try to politicize the issue for their own benefit, an unwilling constituency (when it comes to using taxpayer money to get an arena), union and mob problems when it comes to the construction industry and no official potential owner other than Pierre-Karl Peladeau, who won't say anything other than he would spend "tens of millions" to get a team here.

Sorry to rant, lol, but I think if Phoenix moves it'll be to a midwest or pacific team.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Haha, tell me how you really feel Prax. To be honest, I barely hear anything except that QC wants a team.

George Prax's picture
Chuck Gaston Jr wrote:

Haha, tell me how you really feel Prax. To be honest, I barely hear anything except that QC wants a team.

Oh they want one, they just can't handle one. The fans are there, and the city wants it, but they don't have an owner or even an arena, so where they hell are they going to play?

evilbobsaget's picture
George Prax wrote:

Sorry to rant, lol, but I think if Phoenix moves it'll be to a midwest or pacific team.

**cough*Houston*cough**

George Prax's picture
evilbobsaget wrote:
George Prax wrote:

Sorry to rant, lol, but I think if Phoenix moves it'll be to a midwest or pacific team.

**cough*Houston*cough**

Houston? Texas would have to be able to support one team before it could support two Wink

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

There should be a minus button for this comment!

evilbobsaget's picture

Houston gets the Coyotes, calls them the Aeros. The Aeros move to Quebec City... everyone is happy!!

George Prax's picture

What will they be called when they move to QC, the Toblerones?

Truk Sacul's picture

Kyle just imagine it.. Detroit and TB in the same division = at least like 6 match-ups a year. You could go catch a couple of 'em.... not to mention the endless Det/TB writing material. If that's not heaven for you then I don't know what is

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

That would be fantastic! That's like 6 less game reviews I have to do each year.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Here's a map from the National Post:

nhlmap2.jpg
George Prax's picture

Man it really sucks to be Colorado. And you think Detroit gets screwed? Try playing on a mountain and then going to San Jose and breathing salt water air Tongue.

PS, off topic, but how epic are the new picture embedding options? Smile

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Colorado already does that though. The pic embedding is unreal. I love it! It's so simple.

George Prax's picture

But you do still see the problem with there still being one team in the Eastern time zone, right? They could easily put them in the South division, and only have 14 teams in the West (with Colorado going to the midwest).

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Yup, I've heard f that, having 16-14. To me it doesn't make sense to do that. It should be 15-15. So then Detroit/Columbus is going to have to stay, at least one of them.

George Prax's picture

But why? 16-14 means everyone wins. There are 16 Eastern Time Zone teams, and you could counterbalance the fact that there are more teams in one by having an inter-conference wild card for the last couple of spots in the playoffs. You seem hell bent on screwing Columbus Tongue

rynrrck's picture

I agree that the 16-14 split works best. Here are the four divisions as I see them, and the only reason I really stick to the divisions is to bring back the four best division names in history:

WALES (East)
Adams (northeast): Mtl, Ott, Tor, Buf, Bos, NJ, NYR, NYI
Patrick (southeast): Colu, Pit, Phi, Was, Nash, Car, TB, Fla

CAMPBELL (West)
Norris (midwest): Win, Min, Chi, Det, StL, Dal, Colo
Smythe (pacific): Van Cal, Edm, SJ, LA, Ana, Pho

In the Wales, you have four of the Original 6, a strong division in the northeast, and the southeast division has a few heated rivalries among the Pit-Phi-DC triangle to start off strong while giving a few others the chance to develop (Pit-Colu, Nash w/ the other relatively new SE teams in NC & FL).

In the Campbell, you keep an O6 pair (I don't know how Chi and Det ever get separated) to help strengthen the northern midwest with Win & Min, four strong Canadian fanbases, and, I think, a fair split of the MTN time zone with Colo going midwest to hopefully spark the ol' Det rivalry.

I know an unbalanced conference distribution leaves the playoff-fairness hanging out there... assuming it stays 8/conference, two more East teams would be left out and folks will complain how at least one of them is better than the last-place Western team. So, have the last two spots be true wildcards.

Top two teams from each of four divisions gets a top-8 seed. Next three best records in each conference get a spot, so now we're at 14 total. Those last 2 spots go to the next best records no matter the conference.

This standard guarantees a division race, conference-level interest, and some more weight to the inter-conference games because they could ultimately be a tiebreaker

The scheduling actually works out evenly, too, provided the owners will all accept one less home game/year (dropping from 82 total to 80 total). Everyone plays a team from the other conference (OC) 1 time: that's 14 games for Wales teams, 16 for Campbell. Against the other division (OD) in a team's own conference, Wales teams play the others 3 times, Campbell teams play them 4 times. In your division (YD) everyone plays everyone else 6 times.

Conference Total = OC + OD + YD = 80
Wales = 14 + 24 + 42 = 80
Campbell = 16 + 28 + 36 = 80

Now, if I had confidence this would happen, I'd probably be gainfully employed by an NHL club.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

First of all Nashville is in the central time zone, so there's no way they move to the East. Detroit would before they did. You can't look at the strength of teams because that changes over time. I don't think the NHL will really look at that. Also, the DET-COL rivalry has been done for a while. Scheduling won't be a conflict because they'll just use the same format, except you play your conference more than the opposing conference. While your ideas are innovative, I don't see them coming true. It would be cool to name them after the old divisions though!

George Prax's picture

We've been talking about timezones, but I think that location is more important than timezone, especially when we're just talking about one hour difference (Central timezone teams have to go over two timezones in a lot of cases and vice versa). Nashville would be more convenienced geographically to play in the Southeast, and they'd need it more than Detroit. So you can't just brush it off based simply on timezones.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Well you have to look at the divisions that the NHl is proposing. It's based on timezones. Therefore Nashville would be in the West.

George Prax's picture

But that's the thing, why can't there be an exception? You're already making one for Columbus!

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

It's the whole reason we're talking about WHY the divisions would look like that. Columbus is in the Eastern time zone along with Detroit. The only two Western teams in the eastern time zone. So Nashville has to be number 3 because they're in the central time zone with Chicago and St. Louis (Minny I think as well).

George Prax's picture

So, Columbus doesn't have to be in the Eastern conference even though they're in that timezone, but Nashville can't be because they aren't?

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Basically yes lol. If you go by timezones that's how it works. If you have one spot in the eastern time zone and 3 teams going for it, why put the team from the central time zone in there? It makes no sense from that perspective. You have to realize that that's how I'm looking at it because of what the divisions are being called.

George Prax's picture

But that's the thing, once you make an exception for one team then your whole argument loses its bases. It's not about timezones as much as it about travel. Yes losing two hours on several road trips sucks, but what's even worse is having travel from Tennessee to Vancouver two times a year. Columbus or Detroit to Vancouver isn't so bad, and most teams that are fairly far away tend to do their California road trips in bunches. Moreover, one of the major issues that this whole realignment thing is based on is the financial situations of the teams that might move, and Nashville would need it more than Detroit. Plus, it's not exactly like the Wings are struggling by having to play in the West.

What the divisions are called are irrelevant, as you can probably tell by what they call the divisions right now.

rynrrck's picture

I think any league that sticks to an arbitrary (albeit established) categorization like time zones as chapter-and-verse shows itself to be rather uncreative and unable to recognize that rivalries, fans, and overall sports perspective need to play in here. I know cross-sport rivalries between cities are not automatic, but I think people's understanding of the US map doesn't generally include where, exactly, the time zone lines are drawn. Each of these three teams presents an issue, sure:

1. Detroit's in the Eastern time zone, and its NBA team plays in the Eastern Conference. However, stateside, I believe Detroit's northern-midwest in most people's minds. The rivalry with (or, at minimum, a presence in) Chicago is always there in every major sport and college. I think that's the kicker, personally. I think you need to keep the two of them together, and the benefits that brings to Minnesota and Winnipeg is tangible. Sure, the Colo rivalry is a bit of a reach if you only look at the past few years. but how "real" was the Wings-Pens rivalry before they enjoyed back-to-back Finals matchups? The Avs are making strides, and the Wings have proven to be durable longer than most expected, though that'll surely be tested yet again in the fall. But a division rivalry and possible playoff matchup or three wouldn't rekindle the old flames quickly? I think they would.

2. Nashville, on the other hand, is always regarded as a team in the South. Its NFL team plays in the South. Tennessee's football teams all play in the South and, in Knoxville's case, the popular Southeastern Conference. I know the state is very long E-W and Knoxville's actually in the Eastern Time Zone, as well, but I think that's beside the point. I think Nashville, I think Tennessee, I think South/Southeast. I think it fits better in the Southeast Division (Patrick) because five of those teams (Colu, Nash, Car, TB, Fla) would have a chance to build this "new" NHL rep alongside three established teams with great fan bases and exciting mixes of physical/finesse play - Penguins, Flyers, Capitals. The closest Western team, in my setup, is StL, and I don't think there's any connection there that would convincingly overrule the potential connection I see with the SE.

3. Columbus is, to me, the truest shade of gray here. The same argument to put it in the West with Detroit could be there, but I think the setup with Pittsburgh is better (and yes, I'm a Penguins fan, so maybe the always-be-hating OH-PA rivalry is more palpable for me than for others). The Souteast positioning for it could be seen as a little tenuous, since OH, like Michigan, is thought of as midwest, as well. Sitting on a fence, though, I think the grass is greener for them in the East, and specifically the SE.