NHL picks owners for likely Vegas team | New York Post

NHL picks owners for likely Vegas team | New York Post

 

The second most famous newspaper in New York is commenting on expansion. It’s getting hot in here.

NHL picks owners for likely Vegas team | New York Post.

After Sunrise

The Florida Panthers have always been the easy whipping-boy for the “hockey doesn’t belong in non-traditional markets” crowd. They are also always the first picked on by the “NHL realignment is easy, just do this….” crowd.

The reality is, they have one of the cushiest arena leases out there (and for 14 more years). So I’ve never put too much stock in the Panthers-to-this-city-or-that noise. But this recent article makes things a little more interesting.

Obviously, owners of franchises always talk a lot of crap when they are trying to squeeze more “free money” out of the tax base, but when an owner starts saying thing like “unsustainable” and talks of getting a break on what would be an $80 million lease buy out, there may be a little fire to that smoke. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s mostly posturing to get the $80 million subsidy they’ve tried to twice in the last little while (coincidentally the same amount as the lease buyout amount)… but, my adjective has shifted to “mostly” from “totally.”

I’m sure new owner Vincent Viola would totally take the taxpayers’ money if it happens, but I also don’t think it’s far-fetched for him to move the team if he doesn’t get an even more favorable agreement in Sunrise.

That was a really long intro to the following musing for a new map (it’s been forever since I made one, I know).

Picture if you will, an NHL where the league finally admits they are ready to expand. Thanks to crazy money being talked about for a second GTA team, and, I’m sure somewhat crazy money for a return team for Quebec City, some 1-2 billion bucks are to be split between the 30 ownership groups. If Viola can negotiate down from the $80 million he’d have to pay Sunrise to leave, plus a bunch o’ new money in his pocket, it’s not too far-fetched that he’d do it.

Now in this scenario he could be the owner for the “we don’t have an owner” but let’s get the NHL in Vegas hullabaloo we’ve all heard. Or he could be the guy that finally hitches his wagon to Hansen and gets the MOU changed to allow hockey-first in the Seattle arena deal? Or perhaps he could just move over to existing NHL arenas in Kansas City or Houston. Whichever way, let’s look at the maps that show this new NHL… just in time for the league’s centennial celebration:

 

The Seattle Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-SEA

 

The Las Vegas Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-LV

 

 

The Houston Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-HOU

 

The Kansas City Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-KC

 

Some notes:

  • Four eight-team conferences. Just like ol’ Gary originally wanted until the mathematicians out there all screamed about unfair, mathematical advantages to teams in smaller conferences.
  • No wild-card. That’s was Gary’s cop out to allow for the unbalanced conferences (that were changed back to divisions)
  • Top four teams in each conference make the playoffs
  • First two rounds determine conference champions… a “final four” if you will
  • Final Four are reseeded based on regular season record for “Stanley Cup Semi-finals” — 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3.
  • Yes, this is a really good thing… With four conferences sending representatives to the semifinals instead of two conferences sending their champs directly to the final, the potential a very imbalanced dud of a final series goes down… not to mention the chance for an original-six Stanley Cup Finals goes up. New York vs. Boston for the Cup, anyone? Pens vs. Leafs… SportsNet and NBC execs have just passed out.
  • I’ve brought back Smythe, Norris Adams, and Patrick. A bonus way to celebrate the tradition of 100 years of NHL hockey… bringing back the cool-ass, no other league has it naming structure.
  • Yes, I know that I’ve put the second GTA team a not-Eastern Conference. Anyone willing to pay upwards of a billion dollars on expansion, is going to be okay with the stipulation that they play 23 of their 82 games (see schedule below) outside of their timezone.

Schedule:

48 games — Home and Home versus non-confernce opponents

28 games — 2 Home/2 Away versus conference-mates

6 games — An additional Home and Away versus one team in each of the other three conferences (rotates through all teams each eight years)

I think that works out. 82 games

 

Caveats for all this: I’m tired and not good at math, so there might be something wrong in the above schedule… I have no insider info on the goings on of the NHL, the Panthers, or any other team… I’m just a guy with photoshop, wordpress, a nurse wife working an overnight tonight and a daughter that mercifully went to bed at a decent hour … No need to call me an idiot in the comments, I already know this… don’t take this seriously (hey, my name is Tom Fulery)… I don’t wish any ill on the Panther fan base—losing a team must suck really badly (my friend and former Thrashers season-ticket holder, still isn’t over it)… I used the “Toronto Legacy” logo from the now defunct torontolegacy.com site—I claim no rights to it (nor any of the other logos)… I stuck a scorpion in Las Vegas, just cuz.

Thanks and good night:

— TF

Half Of The NHL’s Rumored Expansion Cities Don’t Make Sense | FiveThirtyEight

Always fun to get FiveThirtyEight’s insights on things:

 

538

Half Of The NHL’s Rumored Expansion Cities Don’t Make Sense | FiveThirtyEight.

NHL Expansion Cities

16 teams in this “NHL Expansion Cities Bracket.” Voting for round one matchups happening now.

 

Vote on this bracket: NHL Expansion Cities »

2013-14 NHL Map – Now with Official Division Names

 

I can’t say I love the “Metropolitan” name. But, overall it’s better than shifting the Central to the Eastern Time Zone.

Click the map to enlarge.

 

NHL-Realignment-Map-2013-14-Final-Division-Names

NHL Realignment – Do It Yourself Map Kit

Included in the following ZIP file is a Photoshop file of the NHL realignment the league announced recently with a ton of layers you can turn on and off, and selectable teams that can be relocated (or contracted) at will. If you want to add team logos that aren’t part of the current 30, there are plenty of resources online for finding those. But again, this template has the current 30 teams divvied up the way Gary and the Boyz™ decided was best, with the style of connectors that I’ve been using for the last (quite a) few months.

Also included is a blank version that you can divvy up the way you think is best using your own version of connector lines… who says you need to make ‘em look like mine, right? Again the current 30 teams are included, but this is a flattened image file, so no relocations.

Not included are the fonts I used (those cost money)… but you can switch ‘em to system fonts like Arial easy enough.

Click on the icon below to download.

Enjoy!

— Tom

zipNHL-Realignment-Map-DIY

 

Oh, You Want a RADICAL Realignment?

You all knew I wouldn’t be able to stop.

Here is the most radical, yet positively doable re-imagining of the NHL yet. It’s a crazy hybridization of the plans being tossed around lately, plus relocation and expansion. It addresses the biggest gripe of the latest realignment—Chicago losing Detroit as a more-than-two-games-per-season opponent. It does however keep the other gripe that half(ish) fans have, the “final four” playoff style. Also, since we’ve upped to 32 teams, there shall be no whining about uneven/unfair playoff chances.

The key to it all is this: In addition to Conference opponents, each team gets two non-confence rivals which whom they have an additional home-and-home series. I picked the pairings based on previous rivalry history (i.e. Chicago/Detroit), relocation history (i.e. Quebec City/Colorado), Stanley Cup finals history (i.e. LA/Montreal). These pairings can obviously be tweaked, but the idea is there, and dare I say, really interesting to me.

I’ll stop talking now… other than to apologize to the fans in Miami and Phoenix.

Additional Note: Florida to Houston could just as easily be to Kansas City or Milwaukee or some other Central Time Zone city.

Click the image to enlarge and read the details:

Radical NHL Realignment — Crazy can sometimes work.

Radical NHL Realignment — Crazy can sometimes work.

Proposed NHL Realignment 2013-14

Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada (@FriedgeHNIC) reported that the forth-coming NHL Realignment Plan will be similar, but not exactly the same as the one the NHL proposed back in December of 2011. It’ll still be four conferences (two of 8 teams, two of 7 teams), but Detroit and Columbus would be moved to the “eastern” two conferences to reduce travel and better reflect the fact that they are actually in the Eastern time zone. I’m still processing it all, and considering the implications it has with future expansion and/or relocations.

In the meantime, here is one of my maps reflecting the proposed breakdown (click it for a larger version):

Proposed-NHL-Realignment-Map-2013-14

Interesting times ahead.

Bring on the super-happy few… and the very pissed off masses.

—TF

 

Rivalry Color Swap

NHL fans absolutely LOVE their teams. And we absolutely loathe our rivals. If you have any doubts to the revulsion you feel to your rivals, check out what simply swapping the colors of two rivals does to your gut*.

*TomFulery.com is not responsible for any vomiting induced herewith.

NHLRivalColors-TOR-MTL

NHLRivalColors-PIT-PHI

NHLRivalColors-MTL-BOS

More disgustingness after the jump… Read more of this post »

NHL Realignment Project – Week 52

NHL Realignment Project - Week 52

Rivalry Pods

Things look bleak right about now for us fans of the NHL. The lockout has moved from meeting rooms to courtrooms. The players (and their leader) have decided that what the NHL has to offer is just not good enough (and honestly, I can’t blame them), and they are willing to fight to the end for something a little more fair. I’m not gonna get too into the woods on the issues causing the lockout, other than to say two of the problems (and they go hand-in-hand) are there are a few too many teams in places where the game,  as it is currently set up, just isn’t sustainable AND the more successful teams think too much in terms of “me, me, me” and not in terms of a healthy league top to bottom creating a rising tide that lifts all boats.

But I digress.

Whether we get a super short season in the beginning of 2013 or not, the earliest we’ll see realignment is for the 2013-14 season. For the record, I think that the league will do so, and will either but something similar to what they proposed last December back on the table (and the foreshadowing of expansion that comes with it), or they will opt for a short term fix that is just a tweaking of the current system. With that in mind, I present the last official entry of the NHL Realignment Project.

While I had flirted with the idea of going into another elaborate description of expansion and crazy scheduling pods and special rivalry games, I thought… let’s just get back to basics and get something doable and sensible done (are you listening to me, Gary and Donald?).

So while this does cause the eager fans in Seattle, Quebec City, Markham, et. al. to have to wait a bit more before landing teams (via expansion and/or relocation), this is actually something that can be done quickly, without ruffling tooooooooo many feathers and addresses some (but not all) of the beefs with the NHL’s current lineup. The league would do well to take this step, even if subsequent expansion renders it obsolete soon, if for no other reason than to say, “Hey, we’re past the dark days and moving in a positive direction.”

Other than a few slight changes to the map, the main thing this week’s scenario introduces is something I call “Rivalry Pods.”

I’ve always tried to keep as many of the league’s rivalries intact during my realignment scenarios, but you can’t get them all neatly into divisions no matter how you break ‘em up. But now, with rivalry pods, you get to add a few additional games versus rivals each year. The rivalries in the NHL don’t all line up perfectly, but this allows for teams like DET and TOR to have an extra home-and-home each season, or DAL and SJS… even thought they are actually in different divisions. But, I’m getting ahead of myself—first we’ve got to look at the divisions…

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 52

NHL Realignment Map – Week 52

 

The Breakdown:

The main changes we see are moving Winnipeg out of the Southeast and Dallas out of the Pacific. To most outside observers, these are the most glaring anomalies in the league’s current alignment. While Minnesota and Winnipeg still have to travel two time zones over for games in the arenas of three of the division-mates, unlike what Dallas had, they at least have each other as near-ish neighbors… not to mention those two cities have no problems retaining eyeballs on TV sets for late starting hockey games. Hockey is king in Manitoba, is and arguably so in Minnesota too, so the Pacific Time Zone is less of an issue.

It’ll be interesting to have a division with four Canadian teams in it to kinda counter-balance the three that are US-only. While Detroit doesn’t get it’s long-standing wish to move to the Eastern Conference, I think it’s time we all admit the NHL just isn’t going to do that. They’ll go to the four-conference option first, rendering that argument null. Since this is short-term plan, there is no need to introduce that upheaval now.

Western Confernce
Northwest Division Pacific Division Central Division
Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks Chicago Blackhawks
Edmonton Oilers Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild Los Angeles Kings Detroit Red Wings
Vancouver Canucks Phoenix Coyotes Nashville Predators
Winnipeg Jets San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues
Eastern Conference
Northeast Division Atlantic Division Southeast Division
Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils Carolina Panthers
Buffalo Sabres New York Islanders Columbus Blue Jackets
Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Florida Panthers
Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Washington Capitals

Other than the league’s current crazy alignment, the other main beef I have is scheduling. This new version of the NHL would include a schedule to that has every team visit to every arena each season at least once. That’ just something that makes sense to me. This weird “some years here, some years not… some years you each get a home game, some years, just one of you hosts the other” thing has got to go. To solve this, allow me to introduce…

Rivalry Pods:

While the division breakdowns of this realignment scenario address a great majority of the rivalries in the NHL, with a little creative thinking, we can work more rivalry games into the schedule. Teams would play each of their pod-rivals in an extra home-and-home series sprinkled throughout the season. I’d suggest use of third jerseys or throwback jerseys for these games (at least for the home team). I’ll get into more specifics on the schedule in just a bit, but first let’s look at the pods themselves:
Rivalry Pod 1 CHI, DAL, MIN, SJS, VAN
Rivalry Pod 2 ANA, CGY, EDM, LAK, PHX
Rivalry Pod 3 BOS, COL, DET, MTL, TOR
Rivalry Pod 4 FLA, NSH, STL, TBL, WPG
Rivalry Pod 5 BUF, CBJ, OTT, PHI, PIT
Rivalry Pod 6 CAR, NJD, NYI, NYR, WSH

Granted, not all teams within pods are rivals of all other teams in the pod (that’s just not possible to align), but there is plenty of historical bad-blood, and/or geographical proximity amongst the teams to make most of these games extra-interesting. DET/TOR, DET/COL, CHI/VAN, DAL/SJS, DAL/MIN, oh my! Coupled with divisional rivalries, we get more of what makes the NHL great—rivalry games—without overdoing it with just playing more and more games against your division-mates. I think this’d be the perfect balance, and really good for the game.

 

Gained teams:

none

Lost teams:

none

 

Schedule:

Against each divisional opponent — 3 home and 3 away games:
6 games x 4 teams = 24 games

Against each non-divisional conference opponent — 1 home and 1 away game:
2 games x 10 teams = 20 games 

Against each non-conference opponent — 1 home and 1 away game:
2 games x 15 teams = 30 games

Against each pod-rival — an additional home-and-home series:
2 games x 4 teams = 8 games

24+20+30+8 = an 82 game season

 

Playoffs:

Playoffs remain unchanged from current format of 8 qualifying teams from each conference playing in a four-round (all best-of-seven) knock-out tournament.  Three division champs from each conference are seeded 1-3 and the next five best records round out the 8 conference qualifiers.

Round 1 — Conference Quarter-finals:
1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5

Round 2 — Conference Semi-finals (teams reseeded after first round):
1 vs 4, 2 vs 3

Round 3 — Conference Finals:
Two surviving teams vie for Conference Championship

Round 4 — Stanley Cup Finals:
Eastern Conference Champion vs Western Conference Champion

 

A Big Thank You:

Okay guys. That’s it! Over a year ago, I challenged myself to show the endless possibilities of realignment  (and the fact that none of them will make everyone happy). While my “52 scenarios in 52 weeks” plan fell through because of life and work, I did finally see it through to the end. Thank you so much for reading and commenting over the last (quite a) few months. Your input has shaped quite a few of the proposals I put forward (killing the Buffa-slug logo… pointing out that breaking up PHI and NYR is just as bad in Flyer eyes as breaking up PHI and PIT… hearing from Columbus Blue Jacket and Phoenix Coyote fans (and Atlanta fans) who are just as passionate as any out there… here’s to hoping that the stupid strife of this lockout will at least create a smarter, better, more fair league where no one even again has to suffer through what the fans in Atlanta (yes, there are plenty), Hartford and Quebec City have had to endure in the relatively recent past.

Please keep coming back to the site to check out more hockey infographics, more polls, more silly venn diagrams and other (mostly) hockey shenanigans… and, almost undoubtedly more realignment scenarios (I just won’t be able to contain myself).

So thanks again for the patience and the participation. And here’s to hoping that the fans in Seattle and Quebec City get teams soon and that the league resolves its issues, and becomes healthy enough to grow and flourish forever.

Cheers!

—Tom