NHL Realignment Project – Week 50

 

Bulldogs and Metropolitans

This week’s realignment is somewhat inspired by the “Lords of the Stanley Cup” infographic I did last week. In expanding to a 32-team league (which is something most believe the NHL will do soon), I picked the larger two cities of the four that have had Stanley Cup championships in the past, but no longer have teams: Seattle and Quebec City (the other two are Victoria, BC and Kenora, ON, in case you’re curious). This idea is also reinforced by the poll we’ve got running showing those two cities being the ones with the highest support for NHL expansion (yes, I know it’s not scientific, and no, I don’t think I am Nate Silver or anything).

This is no far-fetched scenario, with Markham’s arena deal hitting the skids lately, this may actually be the way things turn out.

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 50

NHL Realignment Map – Week 50

 

The Breakdown:

This week’s re-imagined league continues to use the NHL’s four-conference breakdown proposed last year. I’ve gone with the common names of the Stanley Cup winning teams from Seattle and Quebec—the Metropolitans and Bulldogs respectively. Side note: the Quebec Stanley Cup champs were only informally knowns as the Bulldogs, they were officially the Quebec Hockey Club at the time. Conference names are an homage to the greatest players (arguably, of course) in the history of the teams of that conference. Gretzky (Oilers and Kings); Howe (Red Wings); Orr (Bruins); Kennedy (Maple Leafs).

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

 

Gained teams:

Seattle, Kansas City, Quebec City

 

Lost teams:

none

 

The Benefits:
• Media — With one conference boasting all eight members as previous Stanley Cup winners, we might score a bit of a running narrative for TV/print/electronic media to latch on to. Kind of like the SEC has in college football now. The teams in the Orr will obviously hate each other a ton, but will have a strange kinship in that there’s is the only conference with the “all champs” distinction. This “better than the rest” attitude will further fuel this 8 teams efforts, and more importantly fuel the other three conferences to step up and dethrone them… just like the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 do in the NCAA.

• Rivalries — Once again, I’ve 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 Howe Conference teams could evolve into good rivalries too, like Dallas and Nashville. 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. Oh, and Detroit and Colorado are together now… you’re welcome.

• Travel — Four conferences cut down on travel for the teams that currently have the heaviest burden (mainly Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota). Some of the teams with the light travel burdens right now add a little more (looking at you Kennedy Conference), but are still in much better shape than the frequent-flier champs out west. The only teams that have to got beyond one additional time zone for any in-conference game are the aforementioned Red Wings and Avalanche… and just to play each other. With that hatred, they won’t mind a bit.

• 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 (where are Richard, Plante, Hull, 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 and play 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

6 Responses to NHL Realignment Project – Week 50

  1. I love the dialogue Tom & as a Hockey fan in Seattle, I would be more than ok with it. :-)

    Seems like Toronto wouldn’t be too happy with this plan and imagine they carry a lot of weight. Although Toronto has no issues getting people in the arena but I can’t imagine they would enjoy hosting Carolina, Columbus, Florida and Tampa Bay for 8 games a year (~20% of the their home games). Very cool and fun to talk about.

    • tom says:

      Yeah, the Leaf issue is one of the few problems with this scenario. But from a league perspective, they, like the Wings are an excellent road draw—lots of snowbirds in Florida—so the NHL would be more than happy with this.

  2. Al says:

    If this does happen you should split up the conferences into 2 smaller pods. That way the extra home-and-home series never switches. I hate when you have to alternate stuff like that because you never know when the next lockout/expansion/realignment will happen so you don’t know if you will complete the loop equally. (Not that the NHL cares about equal and fairness). However, Seattle should have a team.

    • tom says:

      Amen on the NHL not caring. For the life of me, I can’t understand how the teams don’t play each other at least once in each others home arena each year… but that is the least of my “why NHL, why” issues these days.

      I’ve visited the pods concept before on some of my earlier scenarios (week 38 comes to mind), and I’m thinking it might need to be revived for the final scenario that’s coming up.

      The “not switching” year-to-year would be great, but would start the cries of “but we have to play the Wings TWICE as much as they do” whiners… but as we know, the NHL is pretty good at saying, “screw you, we don’t care” so why not :)

      Thanks for reading!

      —TF

      • Al says:

        Well the Red wings are my favorite team, so I care a little about who they play. (Side note: Never break them away from Chicago again.) It would be interesting to see any team get new division-mates (which is why I like when you do crazy scenarios that will never happen) along with keeping true rivalries together. Overall, I think that this week is your best idea yet.

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