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

NHL Realignment Project – Week 48

NHL Realignment Project - Week 48

Week 48 – Gary’s Dream?

Once again, this week we add a little expansion to our NHL realignment talk. Despite some hiccups in Markham, it is not hard to imagine the NHL expanding into the Greater Toronto Area and back into Quebec City in the near future and collecting some mega-huge expansion fees. While Quebec City is much further along in the process (as evidenced by the recently released arena plans), I don’t doubt that we will soon(ish) see an NHL team in Markham. I think that the combination of  GTA’s hockey-mad population, the win-win situation for the Toronto Maple Sports & Entertainment’s majority owners (media companies Rogers Communications and Bell Canada) and most importantly, the plethora of corporate sponsorship opportunities will all combine to get the deal done.

With all this in mind, let’s try to get inside of Gary Bettman’s brain for a bit. Believe or not, Gary Bettman is a human being, and humans actually care about the mark they leave on this world. Gary probably enjoys the (*GASP*) positive vibe he gets from Winnipeg born from the happiness that they have an NHL team again. So let’s not be surprised if his next few major moves after this unbelievably negative one (lockout number three), end up being some lay-ups of positivity:

Gary’s job is to do what’s best for the owners he represents so of course, he is interested in the windfall of cash that two new expansion teams represents. But any good will that Gary might get will come from selecting cities that have hockey history for that expansion. The aforementioned Quebec City and GTA are no-brainers for this.

Along those same lines, moving the team in limbo, Phoenix Coyotes to Seattle where (like QC) there is a new arena on the way and there is actually a history of hockey, will write another positive chapter in Gary’s book (just don’t talk to the fans in Phoenix or Atlanta).

Let’s make one additional assumption to complete our Professor X job on Gary’s noodle—we can tell by the short-lived NHL realignment that the Board of Governors proposed last year, that 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.While there will be lots of pissed off folks at first, especially if the playoff format proposed happens, eventually a very profitable league in (mostly) very receptive cities with tons of rivalry goodness will equal a (mostly) satisfied fan base and successful league.

What more can any commissioner want?

 

The Map

NHL Realignment Map - Week 48

NHL Realignment Map – Week 48

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
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets
ORR CONFERENCE
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Quebec Tempest
Toronto Legacy
Toronto Maple Leafs
Washinton 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, Toronto (Markham), 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.

• Travel — Four conferences cut down on travel for the teams that currently have the heaviest burden. Teams with the lightest travel burdens right now add a little more, but are still in much better shape than the frequent-flier champs.

• Cold Belt — Unlike his previous efforts at expansion, Gary’s next moves put teams in historically hockey-centric markets. Couple that with moving Phoenix to Seattle, another city with hockey history, and we’re in a better place overall as a league in my opinion.

 

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 (4 teams) pair up the the other half 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

NHL Realignment Project – Week 47

NHL Realignment Project - Week 47

La Key en Rose

Hello again, everyone. After a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long hiatus, I’m back with another reshaping of the NHL.

First, all apologies for going dark for so many months. Business is picking up over in the real world, so unlike the NHL and the PA, I’m working a lot these days. Another reason I’ve placed my attention elsewhere is the fact that Mrs. Fulery and I are expecting our first child soon and that really takes over your life… so far in a very good way.

Besides, not much has happened in hockey since I went away anyways, right? 😛

This week we look at a scenario that involves two cities losing their teams (one unlikely and the other definitely possible) to two cities that are in the Pacific Northwest. Both have arenas that can hold hockey (one well (The Rose Garden) and one not well at all (Key Arena)). While we’re much more likely to see teams in Quebec City or Markham before Portland, this would be a fun scenario for this WHL-centric part of the world.

 

The Map

NHL Realignment Map - Week 47

NHL Realignment Map – Week 47

The Breakdown:

This week’s re-imagined league brings back one of my favorite breakdowns — two conferences, each made up of five divisions of three teams.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Northwest Division
Portland Coyotes
Seattle Metros
Vancouver Canucks
Southwest Division
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Mountain Division
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers
Lakes Division
Chicago Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild
Winnipeg Jets
Central Division
Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
EASTERN CONFERENCE
Niagra Division
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Liberty Division
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals
Southeast Division
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Northeast Division
Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Empire Division
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers

 

Gained teams:

Seattle, Portland

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Focus — With more divisions, the main focus of an NHL team’s season is to win its division to guarantee it’s spot in the playoffs. Beat the other two teams in your division and your in. If you don’t, you still have three wildcard slots to shoot for, so its not an “all or nothing” situation, but its a lot closer… and hopefully more exciting.

• Rivalries — As an addendum to the last point, the other two teams in your division will become such hated rivals, that all games against them will be insanely great. Even when you team is in a bit of a slight swoon, you still have something to play for… just beat the two main rivals a lot and a playoff chance is a good bet.

• Travel — With Detroit now in the Eastern Conference, and Dallas and Winnipeg playing in divisions that actually make sense for their geographic locations, travel will be the last thing teams can complain about… not that that will stop ’em.

Scheduling:

Each team plays:

– against its two division-mates four times at home and four times on the road each:
 8 games x 2 teams = 16 games

– against the teams in the other divisions within the conference once at home and once on the road:
2 games x 12 teams = 24 games

– an additional home-and-home series agains the teams of two of the divisions within the conference (flips to the the other two divisions within conference each year):
2 games x 6 teams = 12 games

– against its fifteen non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road:
2 games x 15 teams = 30 games
16 + 24 + 12 + 30 = 82 game season

Playoffs:

• Top team from each division qualifies (Seeded 1-5 based on overall record)

• Three best records amongst non-division winners qualify as wildcards (Seeded 6-8 based on overall record).

• Pairings/home-ice reset to match seedings after each round

• All best-of-seven series (I don’t want sixteenwins.com to have to change their name)

Acknowledgements:

Again, I can’t imagine Portland would skip ahead of some of the other oft-mentioned cities for NHL franchises (Quebec City and Markham particularly), but it would create such an amazing crucible of hate in the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor, I wouldn’t argue against it. If the NHL expands to 32 teams in the future (most think that is the ultimate goal) it would be great if the Pacific Northwest was a part of it… and it would be a far less-risky enterprise than Gary’s 90s push for sunbelt hockey.

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

NHL Realignment Project – Week 46

NHL Realignment Project - Week 46

Olé… Olé, Olé, Olé!

Listen up all you hooligans out there. This week we’re doing something that ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NEVER WOULD HAPPEN in the NHL (or NBA, NFL, MLB or pretty much any other North American professional sports league). We are instituting a system of relegation and promotion… just like in most of the global soccer leagues out there.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this (very normal everywhere else) system, the premise is simple: There are multiple “league levels” of the sport in question, then at the end of each season, a certain number of teams from each league level either drop to the next level down (relegation) or move up to the next level up (promotion) based on standings (or the “table” if you wanted to go with the established vernacular).

To set up our fictitious NHL, we are take the 30 teams of the NHL and the  30 teams of the AHL and combine them into our system. Using the records at the end of the 2011-12 campaigns, we take the top 20 teams of the NHL and create our “Premier League”. The other 10 NHL teams joint the 10 best AHL teams to make up the “Alpha League”. The remaining 20 AHL teams make up the “Beta League”.

Now that our leagues are set up, we put in place our promotion/relegation rules moving forward. At the end of every regular season, the bottom for teams of the Premier League drop down to the Alpha League, with a  corresponding promotion of the top four teams in the Alpha League to the Premier League. Same goes for the bottom of the Alpha and the top of the Beta. Simple, right?

Simple in theory, almost impossible to map. It took me for-friggin-ever to put this one together. Hence the lateness of this post (I’m a full week behind on my “weekly” update to the NHLRP now). Let’s look at the insanity:

 

The Map

NHL Realignment Map - Week 46

NHL Realignment Map - Week 46

 

The Breakdown:

60-team “super league” broken down into three 20-team hockey leagues — NHL Premier, NHL Alpha, NHL Beta. At the end of each regular season, the bottom 4 teams in Premier and Alpha are relegated to the next league below (Alpha and Beta, respectively). Conversely, the top 4 teams in Alpha and Beta are promoted to the next league above (Premier and Alpha, respectively). Playoffs happen for the top 16 teams in the Premier League (Stanley Cup) and the top 16 in the Alpha league (Calder Cup). Playoff results do not affect promotion positioning/status. Promotion is based purely regular season records. NHL Beta has no Cup-style knock-out playoffs.

NHL Premier
Team Former League
Boston Bruins NHL
Buffalo Sabres NHL
Calgary Flames NHL
Chicago Blackhawks NHL
Colorado Avalanche NHL
Dallas Stars NHL
Detroit Red Wings NHL
Florida Panthers NHL
Los Angeles Kings NHL
Nashville Predators NHL
New Jersey Devils NHL
New York Rangers NHL
Ottawa Senators NHL
Philadelphia Flyers NHL
Phoenix Coyotes NHL
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL
St. Louis Blues NHL
San Jose Sharks NHL
Vancouver Canucks NHL
Washington Capitals NHL

 

NHL Alpha
Team Former League
Abbottsford Heat AHL
Anaheim Ducks NHL
Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL
Carolina Hurricanes NHL
Chicago Wolves AHL
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL
Edmonton Oilers NHL
Hershey Bears AHL
Milwaukee Admirals AHL
Minnesota Wild NHL
Montreal Canadiens NHL
New York Islanders NHL
Norfolk Admirals AHL
Oklahoma City Barons AHL
St. John’s Ice Caps AHL
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL
Toronto Marlies AHL
Toronto Maple Leafs NHL
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AHL
Winnipeg Jets NHL

 

NHL Beta
Team Former League
Adirondack Phantoms AHL
Albany Devils AHL
Binghamton Senators AHL
Charlotte Checkers AHL
Connecticut Whale AHL
Grand Rapids Griffins AHL
Hamilton Bulldogs AHL
Houston Aeros AHL
Lake Erie Monsters AHL
Manchester Monarchs AHL
Peoria Rivermen AHL
Portland Pirates AHL
Providence Bruins AHL
Rochester Americans AHL
Rockford IceHogs AHL
San Antonio Rampage AHL
Springfield Falcons AHL
Syracuse Crunch AHL
Texas Stars AHL
Worcester Sharks AHL

 

 

Gained teams:

Every AHL city is now considered part of the NHL.

 

Lost teams:

Technically, no one. But the 10 current NHL markets that will now host NHL Alpha teams are: Anaheim, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Long Island, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Carolina.

 

The Benefits:

• Opportunity — Teams in smaller markets with no hope of ever attracting an NHL team (either through relocation or expansion) would, in theory be able to earn their way up the food chain and get a shot at the Stanley Cup.

• Opportunity II — Cities that could probably do well with and NHL team (Seattle, Portland, Quebec City, Hamilton, Kansas City, Hartford, Las Vegas, Salt Lake) could find it easier to lure a team to there cities… by competing to convince Beta teams to relocate to their cities/arenas instead of jumping straight into the NHL (or Premier League, as it were). Once a team was in place, then the task would be to move up to Alpha and eventually Premier.

• Fan protection — Speaking of relocation… I’d ban any Premier or Alpha team from relocating to another city. If you’re good enough to be in the two most elite divisions, your fans deserve to know that their team won’t be stolen from them and moved to another city. Owners/GMs that engineered choke jobs to drive a team down into the Beta League just to relocate, would lose so much money in the process, it’d probably not be worth it.

Regular season awesomeness — Since promotion and relegation are based on regular season standings, not on playoff performance, the regular season has a whole hell of a lot of importance… top to bottom. Maybe this is the way to make the regular season as exciting as the regular season is in College Football.

Scheduling:

Each team plays every other team twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 19 teams = 76 games

Playoffs (Premier and Alpha):

• Top 16 teams qualify.

• 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 3 vs 14, etc.

• reseed after every round

• Premier League champion earns Stanley Cup

• Alpha League champion earns Calder Cup

• Since promotion is a regular season reward

Acknowledgements:

Just to reiterate: this will never, can never, should never happen. This was just for fun. As a fan of Brazilian Soccer (Galo!) I’ve often wondered how relegation might look in a North American league.

Some of the major issues here are:

– The AHL and NHL teams have affiliations with each other and often, the same owners.

– The NHL Draft would be a cluster if 60 teams were involved, I’m guessing.

– Travel would be a nightmare during the playoffs if geography was not part of the equation.

– Rivalries are the lifeblood of the league. This effectively kills them.

 

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to use the sharing buttons to spread the word.

 

—Tom

NHL Realignment Project – Week 45

NHL Realignment Project - Week 45

 

Red Hot & Blue

This is probably going to be the shortest write up of all time, because I’d written the longest write up of all time, then thanks to my Magic Mouse and OS X Lion on my Mac, an accidental and tiny single finger swipe acts as a “back button” and I lost it all. Good times. Anyhoo… this is only 8 days later than it was scheduled to be released, but here we go (additional excuse is the badass History of the NHL infographic i posted today).

This week, the King of North America makes folks in Carolina red with rage and people in Columbus ever so blue. But to compensate, the residents of Seattle and Quebec City are now very loyal and happy subjects.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 45

NHL Realignment Map - Week 45

 

The Breakdown:

Seems like more fans prefer the 2 Conference alignment, than the 4 Conference one, so I’ll go with majority opinion this week. But, since I now follow Gary Bettman on Twitter (he has THREE tweets!), let’s make him happy too and keep the conference names geographic.

The Pacific is now called the Southwest Division since Colorado and Phoenix are not even in the same time zone as the Pacific Coast. I couldn’t come up with a name to replace “Atlantic” but I’m sure that Detroit fans will be so overjoyed to be out of the Western Conferene, that they won’t mind. If any of you have a name that makes more sense for an eastern division that strays pretty far away from the coast, I’m all ears (aka put it in the comments).

 

Gained teams:

Quebec City, Seattle

 

Lost teams:

Columbus and Carolina (hey, Phoenix won their division, we’ve got to throw them a bone this week, right?)

 

The Benefits:

• Travel — Only team with any legitimate beef is Winnipeg. But the folks in Manitoba will be more than thrilled to trade some late starts out West for much more meaningful rivals from Alberta and BC. Other than the Jets no team has to travel more than one time zone over for in-division games. Commence rejoicing, people of Dallas and the Twin Cities!

• The East gets its Wings — Commence rejoicing, people of Detroit!

• Fairness — Divisions are made up of exactly the same number of teams. Everyone has the exact same chance to make the playoffs as everyone else… math says so! (Math doesn’t care that one five team division might have 4 amazing teams while another division might only have 2). Happy now, NHLPA?

• Rivalries —  While I admit that some traditional rivalries are lost (PHI/NYR, DET/CHI), the vast majority of the big rivalries remain intact (TOR/MTL, TOR/OTT, NYR/NJD, NYR/NYI, PIT/PHI, EDM/CGY to name a few). Besides my scheduling (see below) demands that every team plays every team both home and away at least once each… even the Wings and Hawks will still have a couple of tilts (not to mention what an amazing Stanley Cup finals that would be). Watch for great new rivalries in SEA/VAN, MTL/QBC and even DAL/NSH (trust me on this one).

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays all it’s non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 15 teams = 30 games

Each team plays its in-division opponents three times at home and three times on the road: 6 games x 4 teams = 24 games

Each team plays its in-conference (non-divisional) opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 10 teams = 20 games

And finally, each team plays an additional home-and-home series against two teams from each of the in-conference divisions not its own. This will cycle through all 10 such opponents in less than 3 seasons: 2 games x 4 teams = 8 games

30 games + 24 games + 20 games + 8 games = 82 games

 

Playoffs:

Just ‘cuz, I’m making playoff qualification be mostly about divisional positioning, but with more conference “escape hatches” than Gary’s rejected “top four are in” plan.

• Top two teams in each division qualify automatically (Division Champ and Runner Up)

• Two best records in the conference outside of the divisional “top-two” also qualify.

• Divisional positioning only guarantees a spot in the tournament, not seeding. The eight teams that qualify are seeded 1-8 based on record.

• Round One: Conference Quarterfinals — #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, #4 vs #5

• Round Two: Conference Semifinals — Round One survivors are reseeded. Highest seed vs lowest seed, 2nd highest vs 2nd lowest

• Round Three: Conference Finals

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals

• All series best-of-seven (2-2-1-1-1 format. Best record earns home-ice advantage)

 

Tease:

The next NHLRP installment (or maybe the one after that) will finally touch on something for you football (round ball, actual foot use) fans. Two words for you… AHL & Relegation! ***DROPS MIC—WALKS OUT DOOR***

 

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».

NHL Realignment Project – Week 44

NHL Realignment Project - Week 44

 

There Is No Spoon

Neo, this message was intercepted from the machine communication network. It shows a system of “Bread and Circuses” that the machines have implemented to placate the masses. As we all know, some time in the early 21st Century (right after Gary Bettman relinquished his post), ice hockey overtook all other sports in North America to become THE main spectator sport for the region. The machines have realigned the sport in the Matrix to maximize it’s appeal and effectiveness, but in doing so have committed a fatal error in judgement (since they don’t have that capacity), they left out the people of Hamilton, Ontario… and everyone knows how rabid they are. Study this message and use it to incite a revolt starting in Southern Ontario and spreading across the continent then around the world! You must not fail, Chosen One, for if you do, they may reprogram the Matrix and make Baseball the most popular sport again… or worse, bring back Bettman. Godspeed!

 

——————– BEGIN INTERCEPTED MESSAGE ——————–

Electronic Memo to the Bread-and-Circuses Program—Your efforts to create and maintain a level of acceptance in the minds of the subjugated human fuel cells has been reviewed and deemed a success for the 1,917th cycle. We continue to approve of the use of the top 24 Combined Statistical Areas in the United States (with the inclusion of the largest standalone Metropolitan Statistical Areas of Miami, Phoenix, San Diego and Tampa) and the 8 largest Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas, for the broadest reach and most efficient population inclusion. The following data were written to the database for archiving:

 

The Map (based on a free wallpaper of the NHL created by some foolish human in 2012):

NHL Realignment Map - Matrix

NHL Realignment Map – Matrix

 

The Breakdown:

The breaking down of the league into two conferences of control is a legacy format based on the 1967 expansion and bifurcation of the NHL, and subsequently continued by a our operative, Agent Bettman upon achieving his super-admin post on February 1, 1993.

Each conference is further subdivided into four divisions to help further regional collectivism and rivalry (and thus facilitate control) of the humans therein.

 

Gained teams from the above-mentioned map:

Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Orlando, Quebec City, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle

 

Lost teams from the above-mentioned map:

Columbus, Buffalo, Uniondale, Newark, Nashville, Anaheim

 

The Benefits:

• Efficient Dispersal of Most Effective Human Control Agent — Their love of their local hockey team and their loathing of the teams based in other locations (most notably accentuated by opposing teams situated within the same subdivision as their own).

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays its in-division opponents three times at home and three times on the road: 6 games x 3 teams = 18 games (played in home-and-home series)

Each team plays its in-conference opponents twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 12 teams = 48 games (played in home-and-home series)

Each team plays its out-of-conference opponents once at home and once  on the road: 2 games x 16 teams = 32 games (played in home-and-home series)

18 games + 48 games + 32 games = 98 games — ADDITIONAL NOTE: The injection of a fatigue-eliminating sub-program has been an unqualified success.

 

Playoffs (all series best-of-seven in 2-2-1-1-1 format):

• 4 division winners from each conference qualify for the playoffs (seeded #1-#4 by record)

• 4 best records amongst the non-division winners in each conference are awarded wild-card spots (seeded #5-#8 by record)

• Round One: Conference Quarterfinals — #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, #4 vs #5 (home-ice advantage to higher seeded team)

• Round Two: Conference Semifinals — Highest seed vs lowest seed, 2nd highest vs 2nd lowest (home-ice advantage to higher seeded team)

• Round Three: Conference Finals — Remaining two teams in conference (home-ice advantage to higher seeded team)

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals — Conference Champions (home-ice advantage goes to team with the best record)

 

Continued Success,

Review Sub-Program — Department of Human Distraction

——————– END INTERCEPTED MESSAGE ——————–

Some notes and a very special thanks this week to the creators of some of the concepts used in the logos:

– Houston Sabres (based on current Buffalo logo)

– Orlando Devils (based on New Jersey Devils concept by Matthiason (DeviantArt Gallery))

– Quebec Tempest (concept by Ryan Barber (Icethetics feature))

– Sacramento Royals (I just crapped that one out, cuz I couldn’t find anything)

– San Diego Ducks (based on current Anaheim Ducks logo)

– Seattle Metros (concept by Ryan Haslett (Icethetics feature))

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».


NHL Realignment Project – Week 43

NHL Realignment Project - Week 43

Five Alive

Okay, so we spent last week talking about a very unlikely scenario—contraction, this week we’re going to go with a slightly more probably occurrence—one where no teams move, no teams are added and no teams are lost. In short, we’re talking about realignment in its truest form—just realigning the existing teams into a different divisional breakdown.

I’ve taken the 30 teams in the NHL and kept them divided into 2 Conferences. What’s different is that I’ve broken each Conference into 5 Divisions instead of 3. The tight geography of this breakdown is it’s strength. If some of this seems eerily familiar, I’ve borrowed liberally from Week 33… you’re not going crazy.

 

The Map:

NOTE: As an added bonus for the last 10 weeks of the NHL Realignment Project (can you believe it?!), I’ve updated the map to be much bigger and nicer than the the first 42 weeks. It’s based on my free wallpaper of the current NHL and measures 1280 x 800 pixels. Enjoy.

NHL Realignment Map - Week 43

NHL Realignment Map - Week 43

 

The Breakdown:

Again, we have 2 Conferences, and they are tagged with Good Ol’ Gary™’s favorite names—Eastern and Western.

The 5 Divisions in each Conference are a mix of directional names, geographic features and historical nicknames… but honestly the names could be whatever folks want them to be (feel free to toss some ideas into the comments section). We’ve got a great mix of geographically sensible rivalries as well as a traditional ones (and wouldn’t you know it, tons of them are both).

 

Gained teams:

None (sorry, Quebec City, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Seattle City, Las Vegas City, Hamilton City, Hartford City, Houston City and Portland City)

 

Lost teams:

None (people of Phoenix, Columbus and Long Island, REJOICE!)

 

The Benefits:

• Scheduling/Travel — Listen up, NHL and PA (and you too, Red Wings, Jets, Wild and Stars)! Here is the solution the biggest issue of the day (besides the egos of many of the combatants in the forthcoming CBA battle):

3-team divisions mean that the season is made up of 3 things:

  • Divisional Play:
    • Home-and-home series against divisional opponents
  • Play outside of your Division:
    • 3-game road trips (each trip is against all three teams in a single division)
    • 3-game home-stands (same thing as above except at home)
– It’s simple enough for fans, players and owners to grasp.
– Road trips are reasonably short, and as an added bonus, the travel from game-to-game during each a road trip isn’t too bad since divisions are “reasonably small” in geographic scope.
– Everyone loves home-and-home series which mean to 120+ minutes of game-time agains “those same bastards” in a very few days (PIMs galore!). Toss in the fact that “those bastards” are who you are in essence, fighting against for a spot in the playoffs, and you play each of your two division-mates eight times(!) per season, those games will be more intense then we can imagine.
– Oh, and every team plays every other team both home and away (Something the NHL and the fans wanted). See the Schedule Breakdown section a little further down the page for even more on the sublime simplicity (and “you can’t argue against this-ness”) of the plan.

• Fairness — Unlike the  NHLPA, I don’t subscribe to the “the teams in the 7-team conferences have are more likely to make the playoffs” argument (listen, you are more likely to qualify for the post-season in an awful 8-team conference than a really competitive 7-team conference), but this point is moot now anyways. This new plan calls for all teams play in equal-sized divisions with the same coin-flip percentage of making the playoffs, so everyone is happy, right? Additionally, with the “escape hatch” of there being three wild-card spots available to the non-division champs with the three best records, and there should be no whining.

• Rivalries —  The majority of the principal divisional rivalries are preserved. PIT/PHI, the 3 NYC-area teams, MTL/BOS, the 3 California teams, the 3 Western Canada teams are all keep alive and well. While PHI loses NYR as a rival, DET gains TOR and COL/DAL has some great history. Decent compensation, I say.

• John Williams — With a division named “Empire”, there definately be a lot of in-arena playing of Vader’s theme from Star Wars. Bahn-bahn-bahn, bahn-BA-duh, bahn-BA-dah!!

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays all it’s non-divisional opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 27 teams = 54 games (played in three-game road trips to a single division, and three-game home-stands against a single division)

Each team plays its in-division opponents four times at home and four times on the road: 8 games x 2 teams = 16 games (played in home-and-home series)

Each team plays another set of games against the three teams from two divisions in their same conference: 2 games x 6 teams = 12 games (again, played in a three-game road trip and three-game home-stand (which divisions you play rotates each year, complete in 2-year cycles)

54 games + 16 games + 12 games = 82 games

Pretty simple. It doesn’t completely keep Columbus from having to make long in-conference road trips, but the trips are shorter in duration and more logistically sensible. Plus, as far as non-Eastern Time Zone road-trips go, the Jackets would only have two more of those than they would have Eastern Time Zone road-trips. The Ducks, Kings and Sharks no longer have to deal with a divisional opponent two time zones away either. You can argue that the Stars and Coyotes would occasionally have a two-hour difference, but that’d only be for the few weeks of the season when Arizona doesn’t spring forward for Daylight Savings, but Dallas (and the rest of the civilized world) does.

 

Playoffs:

Playoff qualification is now a reward for hard-earned divisional championships with three wildcards available for the “fell-just short” teams. While this is a bit different, the structure of the playoffs themselves is pretty much what we currently have (addressing yet another major concern of many players, teams, fans).

• 5 division winners from each conference qualify for the playoffs (seeded #1-#5 by record)

• 3 best records amongst the non-division winners in each conference are awarded wild-card spots (seeded #6-#8 by record)

• Round One: Conference Quarterfinals — #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, #4 vs #5

• Round Two: Conference Semifinals — Highest seed vs lowest seed, 2nd highest vs 2nd lowest

• Round Three: Conference Finals

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals

• All series best-of-seven (2-2-1-1-1 format, with highest seeded team (not necessarily best record) with home-ice advantage)

 

The Closing Argument:

NHL regular season is just better when A) divisions mean a ton and B) conferences are less important. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you exhibit A in this argument: The NFL… and exhibit B: The NBA. It makes infinitely more sense for teams to identify with their own division and rally against division-mates in epic struggles to qualify for the playoffs, than to think of them as just another few teams to deal with in a vague quest against 14 other teams for one of 8 spots.

In short, we’d rather have teams claw, scratch and fight for 5 division crowns (with 3 consolation prizes), than meander through a season in search of one of 8 prizes (3 of which have a lil’ bonus attached).

For all you conference-lovers out there we have the greatest thing in all of sports… the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».


NHL Realignment Project – Week 42

NHL Realignment Project - Week 42

I’m Having Contractions

Back by popular demand, I’m going to be putting forth a realignment scenario that involves… Gary, hide your eyes… contraction.

The more I think about it, the more I realize it just won’t ever happen. The following forces would rise up to fight it:

  • The league — it doesn’t want that kind of egg on it’s face
  • The NHL Players Association — they REALLY don’t want it, because it would force them act like normal human beings and have to deal with a massive job layoff
  • The many cities that want NHL franchises
  • The smattering of billionaires out there that want to milk said cities for subsidized funds that they put towards what really is just a fun toy to show off to their other billionaire friends

But, since I am King of North America, let’s ignore all those factors and just do it one more time. Here we go…

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 42

NHL Realignment Map - Week 42

 

The Breakdown:

Since I am a great and kind king (unless you’re a Coyotes or Columbus fan), I’ve tossed Gary a bone by sticking with his 4-Conference set up, and tossed the players (well, the 93.3% percent that didn’t get pink slips) one as well by even-ing up the number of teams in each conference and keeping the travel reasonably limited to north-south in nature.

 

NHL West
Anaheim Ducks Los Angeles Kings
Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks
Colorado Avalanche Vancouver Canucks
Edmonton Oilers
NHL Central
Chicago Blackhawks Nashville Predators
Dallas Stars St. Louis Blues
Detroit Red Wings Winnipeg Jets
Minnesota Wild
NHL North
Boston Bruins New York Rangers
Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators
New Jersey Devils Washington Capitals
New York Islanders
NHL East
Buffalo Sabres Pittsburgh Penguins
Carolina Hurricanes Tampa Bay Lightning
Florida Panthers Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Flyers

 

Gained Teams:

Nobody

 

Lost Teams:

Phoenix, Columbus

 

Scheduling:

Conference Games: 3 home & 3 away vs. 6 teams = 36 games

Inter-Conference Games: 1 home & 1 away vs. 21 teams = 42 games

An additional Home-and-Away versus a single opponent in each of the conferences not your own (to rotate through the league every 7 years): 1 home & 1 away vs. 3 teams = 6 games

TOTAL = 84 games (a.k.a. still not enough for Gretzky’s single season records to be threatened)

 

Playoffs:

Top four in each conference qualify. First two rounds determine Conference Champions. Third round is the semi-finals (with the team with the best regular season record choosing his opponent). Fourth round is the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

Bonus Note:

Dear, Columbus and Phoenix, I promise you get to keep your teams next week. I’ve been mean enough for long enough. Everyone deserves a break, right?

(H/T to oilersnation.com for the original map)

 

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».


 

NHL Realignment Project – Week 41

NHL Realignment Project - Week 41

Whale of a Tweak

These week’s entry is only five days late. Which is slightly different than last week’s six days late. In that spirit, this week’s NHL Realignment Scenario is only slightly different than last week’s… nooch!

I know the economic viability is a question, but everyone loves the idea of the Whalers (and their AWESOME uniforms) coming back into the league. for some reason we all have a soft spot for ’em.

In order to accommodate this and keep last week’s structure, our league is gonna have to lose a team that few (especially Jeff Carter) have any kind of soft spot for… Columbus.

Let’s see the result (Those readers who are extra keen will notice a whole lot of copy/paste from last week… shhhhh!).

NHL Realignment Map - Week 41

NHL Realignment Map - Week 41

 

The Breakdown:

Two relocations plus two expansions equals a 32-team league. Our breakdown this week yields yet another four-conference alignment. Each conference is made up of 8-teams that are reasonably geographically clustered.

Pacific Conference
Anaheim Ducks Phoenix Coyotes
Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks
Edmonton Oilers Seattle Metros*
Los Angeles Kings Vancouver Canucks
Central Conference
Chicago Blackhawks Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche Nashville Predators
Dallas Stars St. Louis Blues
Kansas City Scouts Winnipeg Jets
Northeast Conference
Boston Bruins Montreal Canadiens
Buffalo Sabres Ottawa Senators
Detroit Red Wings Quebec Tempest*
Hartford Whalers Toronto Maple Leafs
Atlantic Conference
Carolina Hurricanes Philadelphia Flyers
Florida Panthers Pittsburgh Penguins
New Jersey Devils Tampa Bay Lightning
New York Rangers Washington Capitals

*Bonus fun—This week, the new teams in Seattle and Quebec City get there names and logos from concepts put forth in the excellent blog, Icethetics. There is a concept page for the the Seattle Metros and the Quebec Tempest (or Tempête). Thought it would be fun to mix it up and give a shout out to a great blog and some amazing work by some of their readers.

 

Gained Teams:

Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, Hartford

 

Lost Teams:

Long Island, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• The Whale — C’mon! It’s the whale. Even Brodie from Mallrats knows what’s up.

• Geography/Travel — No division is made up of more than two time-zones. No Eastern Time Zone teams are located in the Western half of the breakdown.

• All-inclusive — Every team visits every other team’s building. The fact that this hasn’t been league policy for so long is a travesty.

• Rivalries —  Other than CHI/DET, all major rivalries are preserved. And as Philly fan and reader of the blog noted this week, many Flyer fans would be more broken up about losing the Rangers and Devils as rivals than the Pens. Many would argue this statement and many would support it… so I made everyone happy and kept all four teams together.

 

Scheduling:

Conference Games: 2 home & 2 away vs. 7 teams = 28 games

Inter-Conference Games: 1 home & 1 away vs. 24 teams = 48 games

An additional Home-and-Away versus a single opponent in each of the conferences not your own (to rotate through the league every 8 years): 1 home & 1 away vs. 3 teams = 6 games

TOTAL = 82 games

 

Playoffs:

Top four in each conference qualify. First two rounds determine Conference Champions. Third round is the semi-finals (with the team with the best regular season record choosing his opponent). Fourth round is the Stanley Cup Finals.

(H/T to oilersnation.com for the original map)

 

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».


 

NHL Realignment Project – Week 40

NHL Realignment Project - Week 40

Arena Talk

Crazy deadlines at the real-world job pushed this week’s entry to a very late release… but here it is.

With the news of a potential buyer for the Phoenix franchise, it’s time we switched focus to arenas—who has them, who soon will and who can’t seem to get one built.

Phoenix has a good arena… and maybe with a new owner they can start to spend some money (on marketing, not just players) and people might start showing up to fill that areana (Dallas is going through the same thing now with their new owner Tom Gaglardi). So this week, we’re leaving the Coyotes in the desert and look at a few other cities and their arena situations (good and bad).

The good: Kansas City has an NHL-ready arena just sitting there. The city of Seattle seems to be on the brink of getting one in a year or two. Quebec City is finishing up last details for getting a brand spanking new arena started as well.

The bad: One of the biggest issues arena-wise is out on Long Island. With an owner wanting serious concessions/overtures from the good folks of Nassau County before committing to sticking around, let’s look at a “not-completely-out-of-the-realm-possibility” scenario that has the Islanders moving outta the market completely.

The preemptive strike: Yes I know there are other arena issues out there, but most are based on financial agreement issues (revenue sharing, lease terms), not on structural issues (bad sight lines, low capacity, no luxury boxes, etc). So we’re sticking with the Islanders this week. But I’m sure others fit the mould too.

With three revenue-generating arenas ready or soon to be ready, it’s kind of hard to believe Gary when he says that expansion is not  in the NHL’s near-future (c’mon, did you think the NHL was going was going to allow the league to stay unbalanced for more than a couple of years with their proposed alignment). Expansion fees are where the money’s at for the league… not so much relocation fees. So how do all these pieces fit together? Let’s go to the map:

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 40

NHL Realignment Map - Week 40

The Breakdown:

One relocation plus two expansions equals a 32-team league. Our breakdown this week yields yet another four-conference alignment. Each conference is made up of 8-teams that are reasonably geographically clustered.

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

*Bonus fun—This week, the new teams in Seattle and Quebec City get there names and logos from concepts put forth in the excellent blog, Icethetics. There is a concept page for the the Seattle Metros and the Quebec Tempest (or Tempête). Thought it would be fun to mix it up and give a shout out to a great blog and some amazing work by some of their readers.

 

Gained Teams:

Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City

 

Lost Teams:

Long Island

 

The Benefits:

• Geography/Travel — No division is made up of more than two time-zones. No Eastern Time Zone teams are located in the Western half of the breakdown.

• All-inclusive — Every team visits every other team’s building. The fact that this hasn’t been league policy for so long is a travesty.

• Rivalries —  Other than CHI/DET, all major rivalries are preserved. And as Philly fan and reader of the blog noted this week, many Flyer fans would be more broken up about losing the Rangers and Devils as rivals than the Pens. Many would argue this statement and many would support it… so I made everyone happy and kept all four teams together.

 

Scheduling:

Conference Games: 2 home & 2 away vs. 7 teams = 28 games

Inter-Conference Games: 1 home & 1 away vs. 24 teams = 48 games

An additional Home-and-Away versus a single opponent in each of the conferences not your own (to rotate through the league every 8 years): 1 home & 1 away vs. 3 teams = 6 games

TOTAL = 82 games

 

Playoffs:

Top four in each conference qualify. First two rounds determine Conference Champions. Third round is the semi-finals (with the team with the best regular season record choosing his opponent). Fourth round is the Stanley Cup Finals.

(H/T to oilersnation.com for the original map)

 

Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».