There are dozens of options for realignment out there. This poll is not about any specific proposal, but about which style of realignment should be used. There are several different ideas out there, and they all have their own merits.
There are numerous issues to deal with regarding a league realignment. The biggest (probably most obvious) issue is that there are more eastern time zone teams than teams in all other time zones combined. Travel, rivalries, competitive balance could all figure into realignment decisions.
Which option do you prefer?
There are many options available. Here are some of the major ones possible:
Option 1: Minimal Change (Current NHL Style)
The minimalist approach. Keep the Eastern and Western Conferences, and only shift teams as necessary based on team movement (Winnipeg, Phoenix if they move, etc.). Several teams may change divisions to accommodate moves, but the change overall is small. A simple example is moving Winnipeg to the Northwest, Minnesota to the Central and Nashville to the Southeast.
Option 2: MLB Style (Two Conferences, Six Divisions, Five Teams per Division, Geographic Mixture)
This uses two conferences but contains major realignment. Each conference would have an East, Central and West division (similar to Major League Baseball). The conferences would geographically overlap. Click for an example.
Option 3: NFL Style (Two Conferences, Eight Divisions, Four Teams per Division, Geographic Mixture)
This option, like Option 2, has geographical overlapping conferences. It would also require two expansion teams to move to 32 divisions. A possible scenario involves eight divisions: Northwest, Southwest, Central, Midwest, Northeast, East, Atlantic and Southeast. The two western divisions would be in separate conferences and the other divisions would be split between the conferences in some manner.
Option 4: NFL-NHL Hybrid (Two Conferences, Eight Divisions, Four Teams per Division, Geographic Split)
This is similar to Option 3, except that the league would maintain and Eastern Conference and a Western Conference. Click for an example.
Option 5: Four Divisions (Two Conferences, Four Divisions, Seven or Eight Teams per Division, Geographic Split)
This would have an Eastern and Western Conference with a total of two 7-team divisions and two 8-team divisions. It could also have four 8-team divisions if there were two expansion teams. Click for an example (apparently an actual NHL proposal).
Option 6: Five Divisions (No Conferences, Five Divisions, Six Teams per Division, Geographic Split)
This option throws out conferences and splits all teams into five divisions of six teams each. Playoff teams would be seeded 1-16 from all divisions (making any two teams a potential playoff match-up). Click here for an example.
Option 7: Three Conferences (Three Conferences, Six Divisions, Five Teams per Division, Geographic Split)
This option creates three 10-team conferences. One conference would be a Western Conference (with all of the Pacific and Mountain Time Zone teams and one or two teams from the Central Time Zone). The other two might be Eastern & Central, Northern & Southern, or some other combination. Playoff teams would be seeded 1-16 from all divisions (making any two teams a potential playoff match-up).
Option 8: Made-For TV (No Conferences, potentially balanced or unbalanced divisions based on TV & rivalries)
This is based on geography but also on rivalries and fan interest. The Canadian teams would either all be in one division or all be in two divisions, and other divisions would be grouped based on rivalries and geography. The divisions might be even but may also be uneven. Most likely, playoff teams would be seeded 1-16 from all divisions (making any two teams a potential playoff match-up). Click here for an example.
Option 9: Other
There must be at least several other major ideas out there. Pick one and write about it in the comments (or make your own FanPost about it).
What's your choice?
111 votes total
If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.