NHL Realignment Project – Week 51

 

NHL Realignment Project - Week 51

A More Balanced East

Last week’s realignment got a little feedback on here and on Twitter that despite my best efforts, a few to many important rivalries got split up. Consider this week’s map a tweak of last week’s. While of course there is no silver bullet that will please all people and teams (hence this blog’s slogan “endless possibilities, no consensus), I think this is the best addressing of rivalries of the entire project thus far. An additional by-product of the tweaks is a more balanced set of teams in the two conferences on the east side of the map. Havalook:

The Map:

NHL Realignment Project - Week 51

NHL Realignment Project – Week 51

The Breakdown:

Once again, 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. I’m not advocating these names, my preference would be to let people from each of the cities vote on names vetted presented by the two franchises… none of that “let the people submit names for voting or using something hip at the time that will seem stupid in a couple of years” crap — I’m looking at you, Toronto RAPTORS! *facepalm* But for the map this week, I just when with the Metropolitans and the Bulldogs.

Again, 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); Lemieux (Penguins).

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
Buffalo Sabres
Columbus Blue Jackets
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Quebec Bulldogs
Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington Capitals
LEMIEUX CONFERENCE
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Gained teams:

Seattle, Quebec City

 

Lost teams:

none

 

The Benefits:
• Rivalries — Like I mentioned earlier in this post, with reader inputs I’ve done my best work so far in keeping 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 Lemieux 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, Kennedy Plante, Hull, Bossy, Smith, Lafleur, etc.)

Erin Andrews — With both her faves in one conference (The Lightning and the Rangers), we can only expect more tweets, mentions and other additional exposure to the Queen of All Media (Oprah retired). I welcome all of it.

 

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

19 Responses to NHL Realignment Project – Week 51

  1. ogopogo says:

    Nice alignment. There’s one small change that would appease all rivalries: put Carolina in the Orr Conference and Washington in the Lemieux Conference. The Hurricanes do not seem to have a strong set of rivalries with their current divisional opponents, aside from the occasional meaningful game against the Capitals. Carolina has never played a Southeast team in the playoffs, and they have a more established postseason history with the Northeast clubs (even after they relocated from Hartford). Placing the Capitals in the Lemieux Conference completes the Patrick Division of old and reunites Washington with its current and former foes: the Rangers, Islanders, and Penguins. With that, you can effectively recreate the Campbell/Wales four division alignment (even Columbus has a small tie to the Northeast/Adams/Orr Conference, as its state predecessor Cleveland Barons was once a member).

    As far as Conference names go, it’s hard to imagine the NHL would ever deviate from geographic or timezone-based monikers. A compromise would be to create four Conference Championship trophies named after significant players, families, or contributors to the game. In your scenario, it would look like this:

    The West -> Gretzky Trophy
    The Central -> Howe Trophy
    The East -> Orr Trophy
    The Atlantic -> Lemieux Trophy

    Personally, I would favour the names of families and builders, so my list differs:

    The West -> The Gretzky Trophy (for the Oilers, Kings, and Southwest expansion)
    The Central -> The Hull Trophy (Bobby, Dennis, and Brett built a lot of teams in that Conference)
    The East -> The O’Brien Trophy (the O’Briens founded the Canadiens and the proto-NHL Northeast)
    The Atlantic -> The Patrick Trophy (the family had a hand in the Rangers, Penguins, Capitals, etc.)

    The O’Brien Trophy is just sitting at the Hall of Fame waiting to be used.

    • tom says:

      Thanks for the great feedback!

      I really dig the concept of conference championship trophy names as the homage instead of the conference names themselves. Very nice.

      When crafting this alignment I had the same thoughts on The Caps vs. The Canes. I hear you on the Patrick Division tie-in. My selfish (and admittedly short-sited) tie-breaker on that decision was splitting up the two biggest names in the league right now (Ovie and Syd)… but you’re right, tradition should trump this idea.

      Don’t tell anyone, but swapping those two teams will probably be the last change I make in my now-ending realignment project. The Blue Jackets might be another team that gets shifted, but I’m thinking I might leave ‘em alone.

      Again, thanks for the feedback, and check out some of the other weeks where the pod concept did come into play like Week 38 (http://www.tomfulery.com/2012/02/16/nhl-realignment-project-week-38/).

      —TF

      • ogopogo says:

        Well done on the whole project. It’s interesting to see your iterative process and how you try to address all of the competing issues of travel, rivalries, competitive balance, history, expansion, etc. Not many people are as inclusive or objective about drafting realignment maps. So, hats off for that.

        I have a similar idea to your 32 team pod scenario. The only difference is I split the conferences up into four pairs of rivals (map link below). The pairs would group together as pods and alternate on a three year cycle. The pairs themselves would not change, so you would always have six games worth of CHI-DET and PHI-PIT. It’s really just a measure to make the schedule a bit more varied:

        My scenario has expansion teams in Markham and Quebec, and a relocation from Phoenix to Seattle. I grouped Markham with Winnipeg in the Central to give the Jets a Canadian partner and to appease all those folks who want to rekindle the Toronto-Detroit rivalry.

        Cheers.

  2. Al says:

    I noticed when you listed the gained teams, you put Kansas City in the list. You did not add Kansas City into the league. Might need to fix that.

  3. NHL1 says:

    If the realignment can’t get approved, and if we don’t add or lose the current teams, I think the current 6-division alignment should be tweaked with time zones in mind. Right now Winnipeg, Dallas, and Minnesota are placed in divisions either having 3 different time zones or grossly misplaced geographically. Move Dallas to the Central, Winnipeg to the Northwest (also helps Minnesota), and Vancouver to the Pacific (again helps Minnesota). Then move Nashville to the Southeast. I know they (Nashville) are Central time zone, but all western conference divisions have multiple time zones, so let’s share and spread out the time zone burden into the eastern conference a little. Why should the east be so spoiled? Keep Detroit and Columbus and Chicago together in the West for rivalry and so the West has 2 of the original 6 teams. Midwestern Columbus does not like to think of itself or its image/culture as southern. Nashville is truly a southeastern cultural city and this team and its quality play would bond, strengthen, and create good rivalry with the other southern teams in the southeastern division. The SEC colleges have many teams splitting the eastern and central time zones. Common life in the southeast.

    If the NHL does adopt the new 4 conference alignment, there has been concerns about unfairness just having the top 4 seeds in each conference advance due to some conferences having only 7 teams (4/7 = 57.1% playoff chance) while others have 8 teams (4/8 = 50% playoff chance). I have been working out a way the unfairness in team playoff probability can be resolved to virtually within less than 1 percent probability difference. Here’s how and still honor the league’s desire to just play the first 2 rounds within one’s own conference and not use overall seeding comparing with other conferences, with just a slight tweak of the very lowest couple seeds:

    Within each 8-team conference, the top 4 teams each advance, period, but make note of the best 5th place team in either 8-team conference.
    Within each 7-team conference, the top 3 teams each advance, period, but make note of each 4th place team in either 7-team conference.
    The highest 4th place team in either 7-team conference advances, period, which now brings the grand total of all playoff teams to 15. The 16th and last team to make the playoffs is the better record of either: the best 5th place team in either 8-team conference, or the lowest 4th place team in either 7-team conference, thus making the 16th and final overall team to make the playoffs.

    Looking at probabilities, the best 5th place team of either 8-team conference (9th out of 16 teams = 56.2% chance) compared to the lowest 4th place team of either 7-team conference (8th out of 14 teams = 57.1% chance) is virtually equivalent – less than 1% difference in playoff probability, thus the unfairness playoff probability issue virtually goes away. Some years the lowest 4th place team in either 7-team conference will win out the final seed. Some years the highest 5th place team of either 8-team conference will win out. Yes, there will be some extra travel for the 5th place team to go out to play the #1 seed having only 3 qualifying teams from its 7-team conference, but I gave that some thought to minimize travel. Have two 8-team conferences be west coast/Pacific, and be east coast/Atlantic, while have the two 7-team conferences be interior central/inland areas. This avoids any perfect storm scenario where that 5th seed from one coast having to travel all the way across the continent to play the #1 seed at the other coast.

    Taking my ideas a little further, in the case of the #5 seed traveling out to play the #1 seed from a 3-team qualifying 7-team conference, I would give that #1 seed team the travel option choice of choosing the home/away travel format to use in playing the #5 seed – either the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 or the economy 2-3-2 playoff format, assuming best of 7 in the 1st round. And if #5 seed upsets the #1 seed, then in the 2nd round the #2-#3 seed winner again gets the travel format option to choose against that #5 seed team.

    So, overall by probabilities, my scenarios would have about 50% of the time no #5 seed from any 8-team conferences would make the playoffs, leaving all #4 seeds from each conference to play their conference’s #1 seeds in the 1st round. About 25% of the time a #5 seed from an 8-team conference will beat out the weakest #4 seed from a 7-team conference within its own overall east or west regions. The remaining approximate 25% of the time a #5 seed from an 8-team conference will beat out the weakest #4 seed from a 7-team conference outside of its own overall east or west region. This last case causes the most travel for the #5 qualifying seed. Fair enough?

  4. NHL1 says:

    If the NHL ever expands to 32 teams by adding Quebec and Seattle, my 4-team, 8-division, 2-conference alignment scenario would be, after taking into account the following criteria:

    - current established rivalries maintained as much as possible
    - close proximity of divisional teams
    - no more than any 2 of the original 6 teams in any 1 division
    - at least 2 of the original 6 teams in the western conference

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Northeast Division
    - Quebec (expansion)
    -Montreal
    -Boston
    -NY Islanders
    Comments – Boston/Montreal bitter rivalry kept, limit of 2 of original 6 teams in division, Montreal gets new Canadian playmate Quebec in its own province, NY Islanders have become faded and stale losing fans and need a fresh new start with some other marque teams (Boston, Montreal), and they (NYI) get to win against an expansion team.

    Atlantic Division
    - NY Rangers
    - New Jersey
    - Pittsburgh
    - Philadelphia
    Comments – Strong bitter rivalries remain intact from 4 of 5 strongest former Atlantic division teams, 1 of original 6 teams in division.

    Mideast Division
    - Ottawa
    - Toronto
    - Buffalo
    - Columbus
    Comments – 1 of original 6 teams in division, Toronto keeps 2 of its most nearby rivalry neighbors (1 Canadian) from former Northeast division, Columbus moves to the eastern conference in this division in close proximity to Buffalo and Toronto to make new nearby rivalries.

    Southeast Division
    - Washington
    - Carolina
    - Tampa Bay
    - Florida
    Comments – All remaining southeastern division teams and their existing rivalries remain together, in the future this division and the isolated Florida teams could use an expansion team in Birmingham, AL, which had a team (Birmingham Bulls) in the old rival upstart WHA with decent attendance and rowdy fans and lasted to the end of the old rival WHA hockey league in the late 70′s but not accepted into NHL because old Atlanta Flames were floundering and had to move to Calgary (Atlanta fan base not too supportive of hockey but not reflective of fan base in Birmingham, closer to fan base in Nashville).

    WESTERN DIVISION
    Midwest Division
    - Winnipeg
    - Minnesota
    - Chicago
    - Detroit
    Comments – Chicago keeps strong bitter rival Detroit, Minnesota will become future natural strong rivals to all 3 teams, Winnipeg gets Minnesota for geographical nearby rival, 2 of original 6 teams remain in western conference.

    Northwest Division
    - Edmonton
    - Calgary
    - Vancouver
    - Seattle (expansion)
    Comments – All 3 Canadian rival teams from former Northwest division remain together, expansion Seattle team adds much needed nearby neighbor for isolated Vancouver and the division as a whole to cut down on travel expenses.

    Pacific Division
    - San Jose
    - Los Angeles
    - Anaheim
    - Phoenix
    Comments – 4 of 5 most logical and natural rival teams from former Pacific division remain together.

    Southwest Division
    - Colorado
    - St. Louis
    - Nashville
    - Dallas
    Comments – Dallas gets 3 teams outside the dreaded Pacific time zone and more closely located geographically, St. Louis and Nashville rivalry stays intact, in the future isolated Dallas could use expansion teams either in Houston or Oklahoma City (Houston had a team in old rival upstart WHA (Houston Aeros) and had decent attendance).

  5. NHL1 says:

    Is there a way for the NHL to expand (Quebec and Seattle) and maintain practically all current team rivalries? I believe one way is to maintain the current 6-division/2-conference format and just add the 2 teams in where appropriate. However, divisions getting the expansion teams would have an unfair competitive advantage by playing extra games against an expansion team. So, to help create competitive fairness and yet maintain current rivalries, I propose the following:

    - For a 2-year break-in period, Quebec and Seattle play a different schedule than the rest of the League.
    - Quebec enters the Eastern Conference and plays all other 15 Eastern teams 3 times each (45 games).
    - Seattle enters the Western Conference and plays all other 15 Western teams 3 times each (45 games).
    - Quebec plays the 15 pre-existing Western Conference teams (excluding Seattle) 2 times each (30 games).
    - Seattle plays the 15 pre-existing Eastern Conference teams (excluding Quebec) 2 times each (30 games).
    - Quebec and Seattle play each other 7 times, resulting in a total of 82 games in their schedules (45 + 30 + 7). One year Quebec gets 4 of 7 games at home against Seattle, while the other year Seattle gets home advantage over Quebec.
    - The pre-existing 30 teams (excluding Quebec and Seattle) play a similar schedule with one another, but different from that of the expansion teams, by playing 4 division opponents 6 times each (24 games), 10 other conference opponents 4 times each (40 games), and 13 out of 15 other non-conference opponents 1 game each (13 games), the 1 expansion team inside the conference 3 times (3 games), and the other non-conference expansion team 2 times (2 games), resulting in a total of 82 games in their schedules (24 + 40 + 13 + 3 + 2).
    - Their is some small immediate realignment of the existing 30 teams during this 2-year break-in period, with Winnipeg moving to the Northwest Division, Colorado moving to the Pacific Division, Dallas moving to the Central Division, and alternating Columbus and Nashville each having 1 year alternating either in the Central Division (West) and the Southeast Division (East). Minnesota stays in the Northwest for now (for competitive fairness), but moves 2 years later. For the 2-year temporary break-in period, the realignment would be:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (2 years)
    Northeast Division
    - Quebec (expansion), Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Buffalo
    Atlantic Division
    - NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
    Southeast Division
    - Washington, Columbus (1-year), Nashville (other year), Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida
    WESTERN CONFERENCE (2 years)
    Central Division
    - Chicago, Detroit, Nashville (1-year), Columbus (other year), St. Louis, Dallas (new location)
    Northwest Division
    - Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg (new location), Vancouver, Minnesota (2-years), Seattle (expansion)
    Pacific Division
    - Colorado (new location), San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix

    - After the 2 years, the NHL can make a final determination which team (Columbus or Nashville) helps the League best overall by moving into the Southeast Division (East). Detroit is not included as a candidate, as this is primarily a need for a Southern team and not for an Eastern team, and the West needs 2 of the original 6 teams (Chicago and Detroit) to help attendance in the West.
    - After the 2-year period, make 1 final slight realignment by moving Minnesota to the Central Division. The final realignment from 2 years onward would be thus:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (after 2 years)
    Northeast Division
    - Quebec (expansion phased out), Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Buffalo
    Atlantic Division
    - NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
    Southeast Division
    - Washington, Columbus or Nashville (best for NHL), Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida
    WESTERN CONFERENCE (after 2 years)
    Central Division
    - Minnesota (new location), Chicago, Detroit, Nashville or Columbus (best for NHL), St. Louis, Dallas
    Northwest Division
    - Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Seattle (expansion phased out)
    Pacific Division
    - Colorado, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix

    - After 2 years, Quebec and Seattle are treated like all the other teams and scheduled as such. Today’s current 30-team, 6- five-team division, 2-conference layout has every team playing 4 division opponents 6 times each (24 games), 10 other conference opponents 4 times each (40 games), and 18 other games against non-conference opponents resulting in an 82-game schedule (24 + 40 + 18). With the expansion and 2 of the 6 divisions then having 6 teams instead of 5, it’s a little tricky, but I worked out a way to keep the schedule very close to the way it is now, especially for 5-team divisions:

    - Divisions having 5 teams will play: 4 division opponents 6 times each (24 games), for the rest of the conference, against the other 5-team division play 5 opponents 4 times each (20 games), against the 6-team division play 3 opponents 4 times each and 3 opponents 3 times each (21 games), and against the other 16 non-conference teams play 15 teams 1 time each and play 1 team 2 times (17 games), resulting in an 82-game schedule (24 + 20 + 21 + 17).
    - Divisions having 6 teams will play: 5 division opponents 6 times each (30 games), for the rest of the conference, against the other 5-team divisions play 5 opponents 4 times each (20 games) and 5 opponents 3 times each (15 games) (must mix 4 and 3 times within each division), and against the other 16 non-conference teams play 15 teams 1 time each and play 1 team 2 times (17 games), resulting in an 82-game schedule (30 + 20 + 15 + 17).

    This way all current rivalries are maintained and the geographically dislocated teams get better located. So, do we have our cake and eat it, too?

  6. Raptor79 says:

    This is the realignment setup of how it should look like. However, I don’t see Phoenix in the lost team section.

    • tom says:

      Phoenix survived the dreaded Mayflower moving trucks in this particular scenario. Quebec City and Seattle are straight up expansion teams. All others stayed put. With the NHL’s latest proposals, seems like Detroit is a lock to move and a scenario like this gets less and less likely. :(

  7. NHL1 says:

    2 Additional Perks for East Team Staying West for 15/15 Split – West Travel Change and Pod Rivalry Concept w/ East Teams

    My new ideas – not only different East/West scheduling (which helps an East team “live with” being in the Central Division (NO MORE additional games with far west teams than if they were placed in Eastern Conference) – but also an additional perk – having pod rival games with East teams as well.

    What I’ve toyed around with is – for ANY East team willing to come join the West Conference, they get to swap out a total of 8 Central Division games for swapping in 8 Eastern Conference games with 4 East opponents by adding 2 more games with each of those 4 East teams (play each pod rival a total of 4 games each). The limitations are 2 teams must be from each East Conference division, 3 out of 4 teams must rotate each year, and a marque team staying West must mix “upper half” choice teams (good attendance/rival) with “lower half” less desirable teams (shaky attendance), but a shaky franchise team staying West could pick all “good” teams.

    I figure if Detroit stays west, they pod rival with: Toronto, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Florida – these satisfy my criteria. I assume that Toronto would be the team not rotating each year.

    I figure if Columbus stays West, they pod rival with, Detroit, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and NY Rangers.
    I assume that either Detroit or Pittsburgh would be the team not rotating each year.

    What this means is that the schedule gets a little complicated, but I’ve already figured out the entire League. Still, NO MORE additional traveling to the far west than if placed in the East. Yet still play Central Division teams 4 or 5 times each.

    Breakdown of games played by all teams (assuming 15/15 split):

    WESTERN CONFERENCE (assuming West schedules games per December 2011 original proposal having minimal games scheduled between its divisions to reduce traveling costs in the spread out West):
    Pacific Division (8 teams): 38 div., 14 conf., 30 East
    Central Division (6 non-East teams): 36 div., 16 conf., 30 East
    Central Division (1 East team): 28 div., 16 conf., 22 East, 16 East pod

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (assuming East schedules games per February 2013 latest proposal having increased games scheduled between its divisions since the East teams are more closely packed together):
    Northeast Division (5 non-pod teams): 28 div., 24 conf., 30 West
    Northeast Division (2 pod teams): 26 div., 24 conf., 28 West, 4 West pod
    Southeast Division (6 non-pod teams): 31 div., 21 conf., 30 West
    Southeast Division (2 pod teams): 29 div., 21 conf., 28 West, 4 West pod

    All based on an alignment per the following 15/15 split:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (15 teams) (All Eastern Time Zone teams)
    NORTHEAST DIVISION (7 teams)
    - Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Buffalo (all 5 teams from former N.E. Div.)
    - Detroit or Columbus, NY Islanders (Yes, Isles separated from Rangers – see blog “How to Help the NY Islanders”) (but I would rather keep Detroit back in the West Central with Chicago)

    SOUTHEAST DIVISION (8 teams)
    - Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, NY Rangers (4 of 5 strongest rival teams from former Atl. Div.)
    - Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida (all 4 remaining teams from former S.E. Div.)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE (15 teams)
    CENTRAL DIVISION (7 teams)
    - Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas (All Central Time Zone teams)
    - Detroit or Columbus (1 Eastern Time Zone team) (but I would rather keep Detroit with Chicago and move Columbus East)

    PACIFIC DIVISION (8 teams)
    - Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim (All Pacific Time Zone teams)
    - Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, Phoenix (All Mountain Time Zone teams)

    I worked out all the team combinations by creating a schedule matrix, so I know the scheduling works out for everyone.

    How’s that for sweetening the pot for an East team to stay in the West?

    • NHL1 says:

      … and 1st Round West Playoffs Perk, Too

      One more idea to help make it fair for 1 East team to join the West is: a fair way to treat that lone East team if it makes the playoffs out in the West bracket. I propose that FOR THE 1ST ROUND, that Eastern Time Zone team avoids pairing up with any team in the Pacific Time Zone. This rule would be equivalent to the Central Time Zone teams having to play a team in the Pacific Time Zone – either way the maximum time zone difference would be the same (2 hours max limit). So, in the 1st round the loan Eastern team could play any next-in-line appropriately-seeded team in the Central or Mountain Time Zones. But I don’t think this rule would work out too fairly for everyone if we extended it into the 2nd round, so let’s just use it in the initial 1st round only. FAIR?

    • tom says:

      You sound as obsessed as me :)

      Great stuff!

  8. NHL1 says:

    New Idea – 5 Odd but Equal Divisions Have Interesting Possibilities with Good Results for League

    It’s very interesting dividing the 30 NHL teams into not 3, 4, or 6 groups, but 5. This can actually work out quite well.

    Make 3 Conferences: Eastern (2 divisions), Western (2 divisions), and Split (1 division). The Split Conference will be key here. Each division contains 6 teams:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (all 10 Eastern Time Zone teams)
    Northeast Division
    - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal
    - Buffalo, NY Islanders, Boston (see my post “How to Help the NY Islanders”)
    Atlantic Division
    - Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey
    - NY Rangers, Washington, Carolina

    SPLIT CONFERENCE (2 Central & 4 Eastern Time Zone teams)
    South/Central Division
    - Chicago, Detroit, Columbus
    - Nashville, Tampa Bay, Florida

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Midwest Division (4 Central & 2 Mountain Time Zone teams)
    - Winnipeg, Minnesota, St. Louis
    - Dallas, Colorado, Phoenix
    Far West Division (4 Pacific & 2 Mountain Time Zone teams)
    - Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary
    - San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim

    The Split Conference is made up of 6 teams that don’t quite fit well in the East or the West (with 16 of 30 NHL teams in the Eastern Time Zone, the EAST/WEST divide is approximately the line dividing the Eastern and Central Time Zones): Detroit and Columbus are eastern teams located near the far western end of the Eastern Time Zone, Chicago and Nashville are western teams located near the far eastern end of the Central Time Zone, and Tampa Bay and Florida are southeastern teams located quite a bit south of the pack of east teams, as well as also located near the far western end of the Eastern Time Zone. So these 6 teams group together in the Split Conference South/Central Division. Again, this grouping is key.

    The playoffs are 16 teams divided into 2 brackets – Eastern and Western – each containing 8 teams. The top 2 seeds of all 5 divisions automatically qualify for the playoffs (10 teams). Obviously the 2 eastern and 2 western divisions’ top 2 seeds will enter their own respective East or West playoff brackets. To round out the remainder of all of the 16 playoff teams, the remaining 6 teams are wild card teams which could come from any of the 5 divisions but with guiding rules for proper bracket groupings.

    In the Split Conference, qualifying Central Time Zone teams (Chicago and/or Nashville) can only enter the West bracket, while qualifying Eastern Time Zone teams (Detroit, Columbus, Tampa Bay, and/or Florida) VERY PROBABLY enter the East bracket (small possibility 1 team may enter West bracket if needed).

    Playoff fairness is divided upon the rationale that there exists 16 teams in the Eastern Time Zone, while there exist 14 other teams not located in the Eastern Time Zone. For regional balance of East/West teams:

    In the EAST BRACKET: (8/16 East Time Zone teams in playoffs – 50%)
    - Top 2 seeds from both Eastern Conference divisions qualify.
    - Any Eastern Time Zone team finishing in the top 2 seeds in the Split Conference qualifies
    - remaining best record wild card teams in Eastern Time zone from any East or Split Conference/division until total of 8 East teams within East bracket.

    In the WEST BRACKET: (7/14 “West” Time Zone teams in playoffs – 50%)
    - Top 2 seeds from both Western Conference divisions qualify.
    - Any Central Time Zone team finishing in the top 2 seeds in the Split Conference qualifies
    - remaining best record wild card teams in “Western” Time zones from any West or Split Conference/division until total of 7 West teams within West bracket (still 1 team short).

    That makes 15 playoff teams. To get the 16th and final playoff team (add to WEST BRACKET) the better record of:
    - wild card 8th seed team in “Western” Time Zones from any West or Split Conference/division.
    - wild card 9th seed team in Eastern Time Zone from any East or Split Conference/division.

    That makes a grand total of 16 teams. For any given season about half the time the wild card 8th seed team in a “Western” Time Zone will win out and make the playoffs. This case makes life simple for the 2 brackets. However, for any given season about half the time the wild card 9th seed team in an Eastern Time Zone will win out and make the playoffs. This last case will created some more interesting twists to the playoff picture:

    I am trying to strike a balance of fairness and travel difficulties with how this last case could work for the 1 East team joining into the West bracket. On the 1 hand I could just say whoever that 9th East seed is must join the West bracket. But that doesn’t really make the Split Conference much good. But on the other hand I could say the weakest qualifying Eastern seed within the Split Conference must always join the West bracket whenever the East has 9 qualifying teams. But that seems to unfairly penalize the Split group beyond being reasonable to those teams. So I came up with another middle-ground scenario between the 2 extremes:

    For seasons when 9 East teams qualify for the playoffs and 1 East team must play in the West bracket:
    - Note the 3 lowest qualifying East teams and their respective geographical locations which are seeded 7th, 8th, and 9th in the East – these are the 3 candidate East teams of which 1 team will play in the West bracket.
    - Consider the 3 or 4 qualifying West teams and their geographical locations which are seeded to play each of the 3 lowest qualifying candidate East teams in the FIRST ROUND if only ONE East seed team entered the West bracket – pair them up (#1 West team vs. worse record of #7 West team or #9 East team, #2 West team vs. worse record of #7 West team or #8 East team, #3 West team vs. worse record of #6 West team or #8 East team, #4 West team vs. worse record of #6 West team or #7 East team, etc – whatever makes sense record-wise in seeding).
    - Compare travel distance of the 3 East/West team matchup scenarios.
    - #7, #8, or #9 seeded East team to enter West bracket is the team having the smallest travel distance to their 1st round West matchup team – other 2 East teams stay in East bracket.
    - The West team will host this loan East team and gets to choose which home/away format to use: traditional 2-2-1-1-1, staggered/wrapped 1-2-2-2 (East team has 1st home game), or economy 2-3-2 format.
    - If East team advances, then in next round the better seeded team (East or West) gets to choose home/away format.

    The above formula for choosing 1 East team to play in the West bracket (in seasons when it applies) strikes a balance where ANY TEAM in the Eastern Time Zone might be put in the West bracket, but yet the probabilities are higher that an East team in the more reasonable Split Conference might end up being that loan team. An attempt at playoff balance.

    I worked out a tentative schedule for each division, and I skewed it for the spread out West teams to travel a little less than the tightly packed East teams:

    EAST. CONF.: (NOTE: Split will yearly rotate qty of games w/ N.E. & Atl.)
    Northeast Div.: 25 div.*, 15 Atl.*, 15 Split*, 15 M.W., 12 F.W.
    Atlantic Div: 15 N.E.*, 22 div.*, 18 Split*, 15 M.W., 12 F.W.
    SPLIT CONF.:
    South/Central Div.: 15 N.E.*, 18 Atl.*, 22 div., 15 M.W., 12 F.W.
    WEST CONF.:
    Midwest Div.: 15 N.E., 15 Atl., 15 Split, 22 div., 15 F.W.
    Far West Div.: 12 N.E., 12 Atl., 12 Split, 15 M.W., 31 div.

    How does this work for ya? Penny for your thoughts? FAIR?

    • NHL1 says:

      5-Division Plan Much More Fair

      Although 5 is an odd number for number of divisions, it actually frees up evenness and balance:

      - East and West Conferences each have equal number of teams (12) (not true in today’s NHL proposal)
      - Every division has equal number of teams (6) (not true of today’s NHL proposal)
      - No team is put in a division with all other teams being outside their own time zone (not true of several teams in current 2012-2013 NHL alignment)
      - No East team forced to always play in the West and in the West playoffs bracket (not true of current 2012-2013 NHL alignment)
      - Very fair handling of the 16th and final qualifying playoff team (not true of today’s NHL proposal)
      - No real misalignment of teams or gaps between teams in same division by skipping over other teams (not true of either current 2012-2013 NHL alignment or of today’s NHL proposal)
      - East and West Conferences have perfect team Time Zone Balance representation (East – all in Eastern Time Zone, West – perfect 4/4/4 split of 3 “Western” Time Zones of 4 Central, 4 Mountain, 4 Pacific, and 0 Eastern teams) (not true of either current 2012-2013 NHL alignment or of today’s NHL proposal)
      - Very fair handling of imbalanced travel mileage and travel costs between the packed together East teams and spread out West teams (not true of either current 2012-2013 NHL alignment or of today’s NHL proposal)
      - Many major current rivalries kept and some previous recent rivalries rejoined (NO proposal will save 100% of all of them) (Washington/Atlantic Div. not true of current 2012-2013 NHL alignment, Chicago/Detroit not true of today’s NHL proposal)

      Looks to me like my 5 equal divisions alignment actually fares far BETTER for a vast majority of issues and provides quite a bit of team fairness (again, NO proposal will ever be perfect, but some proposals are more fair than others).

      Another negative concept sometimes brought up is something about screwing up the divisional playoff format. This is referring to the concept of the initial NHL December 2011 proposal where for the 1st two rounds of the playoffs it’s purely an individual divisional playoff format where you stay within your own division and #1 plays #4, while #2 plays #3? If so, I see SO MANY folks hating that format because they hate seeing the same old team divisional rivals play each other again and again and again. And again – wearing out a good thing. So, in my proposed 5-division set-up, there was 1 point I wasn’t as clear as I should have been.

      What I’m doing is similar to today’s NHL proposal where it’s a hybrid between just purely an individual divisional format and just a total free-for-all of best seeds. All my division winners get the top highest layer of seeds. Next, all my 2nd place teams get all the middle layer of seeds below all the division winners. Finally, all my wild card teams get all the bottom lowest layer of seeds below all the 2nd place teams. It’s a hybrid compromise similar to today’s NHL proposal.

      Fans seem to be very supportive of getting Detroit the best possible dream scenarios while critiquing any proposal that provides even a hint of something less than that. But realize this: If we took the most passionate fans from all 30 NHL teams and asked them what would be the best possible dream scenarios for each of their beloved teams, you would get dozens of differing and conflicting ideas – ideas that would be wonderful and fantastic for each individual team – but would most definitely hurt a good number of other teams in the process and even likely hurt the League as a whole. So, the real and fair question is: how can we best help the NHL as a whole for the most long-term good of the League in an unbiased manner without hurting or damaging or putting at an unfair disadvantage some of the NHL teams and without playing favorites and catering to pet loved teams?

      • tom says:

        As a Longhorn fan in college football I get the Detroit-love… or more appropriately the ‘love-to-hate’. Many, many teams consider Texas a #1 on their list of rivals (or at least on their ‘we really want to play them every single year (for the revenue) list).

        I dig the outta the box five-division thinking, but the biggest hurdle (besides the league and the PA) would be getting the masses (pronounced: dumbasses) to easily wrap their heads around it and just “get it” and move on.

        Like some of my ten-divisions-of-3-teams-each scenarios, yours does a nice job of rewarding winning/being at the top of your grouping, but also allows for great teams who fall a bit short of group championship a chance to make a run for the Cup in the playoffs too… among LOTS of other good points. Atta-way to write and write and write… again, you are like a carbon copy of me :)

        Thanks for the comments!

        Tom

  9. Hayes says:

    Clearly this realignment discussion is causing a lot of comments and anxiety. I think the NHL is trying to move too fast in a very turbulent environment (Phoenix, expansion, etc.). Would they consider a modest realignment for the next 3 years (or until Quebec and Markham are ready with their expansion fees).

    Here is my proposal:

    Keep the divisions and playoffs as they are now. Move WPG to Northwest, move VAN to Pacific, move DAL to Central and move CLM to Southeast. Divisions, conferences, and playoffs stay balance. Dallas gets it’s Central time zone, Columbus gets a few years to prove the Eastern Conference is their panacea, Winnipeg gets in with Edmonton and Calgary. Who’s unhappy here? Maybe Vancouver, not sure if they would be against being the only Canadian team in the Pacific, and Detroit who obviously wants to go East.

    If everyone is in agreement (and it sounds like everyone is) that you play home and home with all other teams, Detroit would have 70+ games in EST and CST and get to keep division rivalries with CHI, STL, and NAS. Love to hear feedback and comments.

    Thanks.

    • tom says:

      This is eeirly similar to my “final” work of realignment that I’m trying to finish up (the newborn and work keep getting in the way). Get outta my head!!! :)

      It’s a two-step plan to do exactly what you’re talking about here, address the now with a tweak and then shake it up in the future with the other variables (expansion/relocation).

      Any other plan is way too flawed. Simple as that.

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