NHL Realignment Project – Week 49

NHL Realignment Project - Week 49

 

Gary’s Dream – With a Little Barbecue Sauce

So, last week we outlined a version of the NHL that could very conceivably be something Gary Bettman could steer the league towards. The biggest caveat of the week was the issues that Markham seems to have run into with their arena plans. If we pull them out of the equation, and limit our relocation/expansion efforts to cities with arenas that have already been approved or have  been built, we end up with a slightly tweaked version of Gary’s dream (granted, to the league it would be a nightmare, because they would certainly not be as able to milk nearly as much out of expansion fees without the richest city in Canada).

The Sprint Center in Kansas City, the New Colisée in Quebec City, and the not-yet-named arena in Seattle are the sites of our expansion/relocation efforts in this installment.

Like last week, let’s make the assumption that from the short-lived realignment that the league proposed last year, the commish is interested in four conferences… which in turn, reflect and reinforce the idea of a 32-team league to even up the conferences at 8 teams each. And again, the proposed playoff format will piss off a ton of fans (and make another ton very happy somehow), but the trade off of having a more fair travel load across the league and the maintaining of most of the major rivalries in the league, might be worth it.

Besides, I’m willing to bet right now that most fans would be more than fine with a realignment and a re-working of the playoff format if it meant we got to watch some damn hockey again.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 49

NHL Realignment Map – Week 49

 

The Breakdown:

This week’s re-imagined league brings back the NHL’s four-conference breakdown proposed last year (links provided for concept names/logos).

GRETZKY CONFERENCE
Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Seattle Metros
Vancouver Canucks
HOWE CONFERENCE
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
ORR CONFERENCE
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Minnesota Wild
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Quebec Tempest
Toronto Maple Leafs
Winnipeg Jets
HULL CONFERENCE
Carolina Hurricanes
Dallas Stars
Florida Panthers
Kansas City Scouts
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals

 

Gained teams:

Seattle, Kansas City, Quebec City

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix

 

The Benefits:

• Rivalries — I tried my best to keep most of the major rivalries together. The more obvious ones are all here, of course, but even the “secondary” ones like the Sabres and the Leafs have been maintained where possible. Some of the Hull Conference teams could evolve into good rivalries too, like Dallas and Nashville and obviously Kansas City and St. Louis. And to all you who constantly complain that the PHI/NYR rivalry is more important than the PIT/PHI rivalry… once again, the Broadway Blueshirts and the Broad Street Bullies and kept together.

• Travel — Four conferences cut down on travel for the teams that currently have the heaviest burden (mainly Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota). Teams with the lightest travel burdens right now add a little more, but are still in much better shape than the frequent-flier champs. All conferences now span two time zones and none span three. Some of the old guard on the east coast won’t like this, but fair is fair.

• Heritage — The conferences are named for some of the greats from the history of the game. Only issue with this is having only four will spark countless debate on the choices (Richard, Plante, Kennedy, Bossy, Smith, Lafleur, etc.)

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays:

– against its seven conference-mates twice at home and twice on the road each:
 4 games x 7 teams = 28 games

– against the teams in the other conferences once at home and once on the road:
2 games x 24 teams = 48 games

– half of each conference pair up for an additional home-and-home series (switch the pairings each season):
2 games x 3 teams = 6 games

28 + 48 + 6 = 82 game season
Playoffs:

• Top four teams from each conference qualify for a “final four” style tournament. All series are best of seven.

• Round 1: Conference Semifinals (1 seed vs. 4 seed; 2 vs. 3  (based on overall record))

• Round 2: Conference Finals (first round winners play each other)

• Round 3: Stanley Cup Semifinals (best overall record of remaining teams picks it’s opponent for this round)

• Round 4: Stanley Cup Finals

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to use the sharing buttons to spread the word and wish me luck on my impending fatherhood in February.

 

—Tom

5 Responses to NHL Realignment Project – Week 49

  1. thewhitecafu says:

    Hi Tom,

    Firstly, a great blog and aomething i think about constantly whilst wasting time at work!!!

    I’d largely agree with the post, especially 32 teams, in the respect of 32 being a symmetrical number under the parameters you suggest. I’d still like to see every team play each other once home and away per season, and then indulge the rivalries. I support the Sens, and love seeing them take on the Western Canada teams as well as teams like San Jose etc. I’d hate to see a gifted player like Teemu Selanne, let’s say, only play Eastern stadiums once in a blue moon. For this reason, I really like your 4 division set up as it has Leafs etc, as well as ‘exotic’ teams like Dallas etc…

    I’d personally put in a 2nd team from Southern Ontario in there, let’s say Hamilton for the sake of argument, although with Markham I suspect Hamilton won’t have a team for a generation. Anyway, franchises outside of cold places can work well, but the likes of Florida are just going to lurch into a crisis and play to half empty buildings. I think often Canadian people (I am British, but half-Canadian and lived there or large portions of my life) look at it as ‘us versus them’. Reality is some non traditional markets can be strong, but end of the day some will never work. It is a mystery to me why there’s no Norsiques. I think Peladeau etc will be fools if they rename the Nordiques team, Winnipeg showed that fans will buy anything with Jets on. The marketing is huge for people like NE in their 30’s who look misty eyed at names like Nordiques, Whalers etc etc. Anyway, I digress. I’d sack off Columbus, Florida and Tampa, and fetch in Hamilton, Milwaukee, Hartford and this might be over egging the pudding, but Toronto #2 also.

    Anyway’s, it’s a good argument and after CBA is completed Quebec, Seattle and Souther ln Ontario team are a matter of time.

    Thanks for the blog, and apologies for my ramble.

    • tom says:

      Sorry for the slow reply, my blog isn’t auto-notifying me of comments anymore for some reason… also I will never ever ever begrudge anyone their right to ramble :)

      Thanks for the kind words. Obviously this is and obsession of mine that is bordering on clinical, but it’s a fun one. I think the “less than successful” teams that are kept around are more about the NHL not wanting to lose face than actual belief that hockey can really become entrenched there. But there are success stories (especially in the youth ranks) coming out of some non-traditional markets these days, so there’s hope… so long as this lockout doesn’t put too huge a dent in things… but some markets (for whatever multitude of reasons) just can’t seem to get things to work. I don’t see the NHL ever going beyond 32 teams, so those markets are the once to watch for relocation in the future after the next two teams are added.

      Like you’ve said, Canada has several good options, and as someone born in Canada (but of Brazilian parents, so I love the Cafu mention in your name), I’d love to see more Canadian markets get NHL teams. But as someone who’s lived in Texas for the last many many years, I love that the NHL has (at least in some places) been able to expand successfully beyond its old traditional base.

      I’ve always been a big fan of every team getting to play in every stadium at least once per season. I honestly think that that is one of the things the NHL regrets having gotten away from, and their short-lived four conference plan was probably in no small part an attempt to rectify the situation.

      It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out over the next few months and years.

      Thanks for reading,

      Tom

  2. Aaron says:

    I like the Conference names, but I think St.Louis, KC, Chicago, Dallas and Detroit should stick in the same conference. I understand Nashville being in the same conference as the two Florida teams though. But it’s all in how to work around all this.

    Gretzky Conference

    LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, Seattle Metros, San Jose Sharks

    Howe Conference
    Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, Kansas City Express, Nashville Predators

    Orr Conference

    Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets

    Lemieux Conference

    Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning

  3. P bud says:

    I’m highly disappointed that the scouts of KC don’t have a link to it’s potential outfit.

    • tom says:

      Is there a link to a potential outfit? Shoot it my way, and I’ll add it in.

      – Your humble servant

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