FanPost

Radical Realignment of the NHL


We've all seen dozens of plans, and the current plan shown on HNIC the other day, while radical, actually moves very few teams. The teams that would move to different groupings are Minnesota, Winnipeg and Dallas (to the Central, along with the 5 current teams in the Central); Washington and Carolina move into the Atlantic, and Tampa Bay and Florida move into the Northeast (getting a new name presumably...). The remaining teams in the Pacific and Northwest are merged together into one conference.

To make this change (or any change) would require 20 teams to be in favor of the change. While personally, I like this scenario, the question is are there 20 teams that like it too.

First of all, it is very likely that all of the current Western teams would like it. No team would be in a conference with teams more than one time zone away. If we consider the new far west conference (Van, Cgy, Edm, Col, Phx, SJ, LA, Anh), I suspect there would be 8 Yes votes here. Reduced travel would be the big seller. Right now all these teams have to make two trips to Nashville, Columbus, etc. and that would go down to one. It's not just the travel costs, too. If the Canucks are playing in Columbus, the game likely starts at 4 PM in Vancouver, meaning folks aren't able to watch the game on TV as they're still at work.

The new Central conference will have some ardent supporters of the new plan: Detroit, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago. The only team that might not be as ardent about it is Columbus, who might want to be in one of the Eastern conferences (the Atlantic with Pittsburgh). But Columbus also knows that if this radical realignment doesn't happen, they'll have 10 games in the following season starting at 10 PM or later local time (out West) instead of 5. I suspect there will be 8 "Yes" votes here too.

That brings us to 16 votes in favor. The NHL needs 20.

Looking East is where the troubles are, although likely the Commissioner only needs to get 4 or 5 votes. The rumor out there is that the Flyers are very much in favor of this new alignment, probably because they're part of the same company as Comcast, meaning it's in their best interest to have lots of good TV match ups, and 6 Wsh-Pit, Wsh-Phi, Phi-NYR, Pit-NYR, Phi-Pit, Bos-Mtl, will work out for them. I can also see Ted and the Capitals being in favor of it as well, since it would mean shorter trips to games for the team, and more match-ups with traditional rivals. I suspect Mario might be in favor of the plan, ditto for the Rangers' ownership. If we assume that the Caps, Flyers, Pens and Rangers are in favor. The Canes will probably vote in favor as well since it means more games with closer rivals. The Devils will probably go with the same plan as the Rangers. The Islanders will vote which ever way gets them a new arena.

Before getting to the Northeast-Florida conference, the NHL probably has enough votes to pass this. I have a hunch the only teams in favor of the plan in the this conference are the two Florida teams, as they draw well when Montreal, Boston and Toronto come to town. I also suspect Montreal and Toronto are going to be the most opposed to this realignment.

It looks very much like this plan will be adopted by the league, and personally, it gives the league flexibility as well as stability.

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.

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