New Format - On the Fence

This will most likely be one of many blogs put up at The Checking Line regarding the NHL's new 'radical' re-alignment. And in radical I think they mean 'ridiculous.'

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty, but there are some things I like and some that are downright stupid. First of all, here are the four new conferences from (that's right, good bye East - West):

* New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Washington and Carolina

* Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay

* Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Winnipeg

* Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado

So what are some positives? For one, it guarantees that every team will play the other 29 teams at least twice every season. Two, the travel on teams will lessen considerably (being a Detroit fan, this is very good). And lastly, we might get to see some cool conference names like Howe, Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr. One can dream.

But on the other end, things get really confusing and piss me off.

Two conferences will have eight teams and the other two conferences will have seven teams. So they're saying that the conference with seven teams will have an easier time getting into the playoffs because there is less competition. Is that fair? If I'm missing the ball on this one let me know, because that seems to be a huge flaw in this plan.

Secondly, how in the world does Tampa/Florida fit into what is basically them plus the Northeast Division? I mean really? The five teams that all you think about is snow and then...Florida? Maybe I'll just give it to them. I'll pretend not to care.

But now, I mean, boy, Bettman we have a problem. What is wrong with this playoff seeding? Like I said, the 8-team and 7-team conferences make for some unfair advantages. The top four teams in each conference will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs; fair enough, so sixteen just like before.

The first two rounds will be played within the conference, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team playing the third-place team in the first round. The winners will face each other in the second round.

I'm assuming they get re-seeded after the "Conference" round, so therefore point totals. An easier way is to just not have conferences in the playoffs (only for top four making the playoffs), just seed everyone 1-16 and play it out, it would work the same way.

The last thing I am not cool with is probably something I'll just have to get used to. Can you imagine a Final with current Eastern Conference teams in it? Or Western? I'm having a tough time imagining it, but hey, for the sake of the game, I'll give it a try.


Do the Wings like it? Not as much as being in the East, but they'll take it. Only going out to places like San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Colorado will help TV ratings and is great for travel. They retain everyone from the Central, plus they get to beat up on Winnipeg/Atlanta, Dallas and Minnesota. So I am a fan of the Conference they are in and their schedule. For the league as a whole, it's a different story.

So after some positives and negatives, I still feel like we're losing something in the East and West. It's something that felt right that was ruined by a Board of Governors.

Did they even take into account that Phoenix might move next year? So then this whole revamp might have been for nothing. Why not switch Detroit-Winnipeg for ONE YEAR, making good on Mike Illitch's promise, and seeing what happens with the Coyotes in the meantime without making yourselves look 'batshit crazy' as one fan put it, when they move to, say, Quebec City. Unless they know something we don't! 

Obviously I'm still a fan of the NHL. I apparently don't like change, so don't kill me for it, but let me know what you think!

Kyle Busch


Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Kyle I absolutely love the new line up. It has so many different positives.

Tampa and Florida are now a part of the North East, big reason why I like this, Florida has no fans. The fans of the North East are awesome and their fans travel well. Tell me what North East native won't take a weekend trip to sunny Miami in February to see their favorite team play. It will really help those weaker markets down south.

For the Atlantic, they added a great Washington team, an up and coming Carolina club, and they kept their traditional rivalries. Bettman is creaming over Crosby and Ovi in the same division, and so is the media.

The Central allows less time zone travel, so Detroit can stop bitching lol, they keep a big rival in Chi-Det, and they get a great home crowd in Minny, they will really help out Dallas, and they get a Canadian team.

The Pacific coast conf will be great as well.

But the biggest reason I like this is the massive room left for expansion. The NHL can move Phoenix east, or keep them in a Pacific. They can expand a few teams into the east or the west and just shift a few teams. 32 teams can be a strong possibility in just a few seasons.

George Prax's picture

I don't see why I have to sit through more games with Florida just because no one gives a shit about those teams. It's clear that they're using Montreal, Toronto, and to a slightly lesser extent Boston to prop them up, but it makes no sense. The Habs have great rivalries with teams like Philly and Pittsburgh, even the Rangers, Devils, Caps, Canes, and instead on banking on one of those, they have to put them against the Florida teams just to increase their attendance and viewership? It's really annoying.

And ya, having two divisious with less teams makes no sense. The only way this would work is if the first three teams from each got into the playoffs, and the remaining four teams were wildcards.

I also don't like the fact that there are two rounds of divisional playoffs. The Habs play the Bruins enough as it is in the post season, I'd much rather an opportunity to build a new rivalry with teams from either the East or West.

I'm sure we'll get used to it, but there are clear winners, and clear losers and it's not really fair to everyone.

Patrick Storto's picture

I have a problem with the unbalanced conferences, especially since the playoff spots are awarded to the top 4 of each conference. Being unbalanced wouldn't have been an issue if the top 3 of each conference made the playoffs and the remaining 4 playoff spots were a wild card to the 4 best remaining teams.

As for the Florida teams joining the Northeast, it's not that big of a deal. Sure they don't have snow in Florida, but they don't have ice either and they manage to play hockey. I don't think the weather outside has any influence on the rivalry.

To me this realignment looks like a last minute mash-up. It's possible that this could be a temporary fix, while other issues are settled. The NHL doesn't know what's going to happen with Phoenix or other teams in financial trouble. They'll try this out for a few years and if it doesn't work, they'll change it.