NHL Realignment Project – Week 39

NHL Realignment Project - Week 39

Simply Seattle

On time this week!

As much as a lot of us would like to see the NHL contract to 28 teams, the reality is it’d take a massive collapse in league-wide revenues for that to happen… not to mention that Heavy G and the Boyz™ (Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors) will pretty much do anything to avoid the egg-on-face press conference to admit that the league is overextended and that contraction is the only solution). Put bluntly, this isn’t going to happen. So franchise moves from  city to city and/or expansion are the only reality-based changes that the NHL will be seeing anytime soon. With this in mind, I’m gonna be sticking with “actually possible” scenarios for the next few weeks. (I’ll do a sensible contraction scenario soon enough, don’t worry).

With the Seattle arena thing still in the news we’re gonna run with the very viable scenario of the only change in the NHL for 2012-13, team-wise would be a relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise from their home in the desert to the Pacific Northwest’s Emerald City, Seattle. (NOTE: Yes, I am aware of the fact that there has been a bit of buzz around a potential Coyotes buyer being approved by the league (meaning they approve of him to potentially buy the team, not they have approved the sale itself), but we’ll deal with the implications of that next week). So let’s look at a PHX-to-SEA move.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 39

NHL Realignment Map – Week 39

The Breakdown:

Those of you who are fans of the current league set-up will (mostly) love this. We’re sticking with the two conferences, made up of three 5-team divisions set-up that has been the league’s preference since 1998 (aside: see sixteenwins‘ infographic on all of the league’s realignments over the years). Of all the realistic scenarios based on the current format, this is probably my favorite… not to mention one I wouldn’t be surprised seeing implemented (at least until expansion or the Islanders, Panthers, Jackets, Lightning, and/or Hurricanes throw a wrench into the works).

Seattle’s addition means there are actually five teams in the Pacific time zone (and on/near the Pacific Ocean for that matter), so that makes that division name make sense for the first time ever. Peeling Vancouver away from the two Alberta teams will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, but replacing them with a rival in an amazing city only a three-ish hour bus ride away from their home makes up for it. Pulling Dallas out of the Pacific and Winnipeg out of the Southeast rounds out the “sensible” moves we’re implementing. Detroit’s yearning to be in the Eastern Conference has unfortunately not been appeased, but hopefully a smarter scheduling will make them a little less sad).

 

The Wayne Douglas Gretzky Conference
Pacific Mountain West Central
Anaheim Ducks Calgary Flames Chicago Blackhawks
Los Angeles Kings Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
San Jose Sharks Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings
Seattle Totems Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators
Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets St. Louis Blues
The Robert Gordon Orr Conference
Northeast Atlantic Southeast
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

 

Gained Teams:

none

 

Lost Teams:

none

 

(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 38

NHL Realignment Project - Week 38

Something Old, Something New(s)

My insomnia has served me well this evening. In addition to finally having a moment to finish up this week’s (very late) entry, I’ve gotten wind of the interesting news that sometime on Thursday, a plan for an NBA/NHL arena to be built in Seattle will be revealed. Check the Seattle Times for the story.

Anyhoo, I had planned on going with contraction this week, but this news has forced me to put that off until next week and do yet another realignment scenario with Seattle involved. Toss in the addition of a Salt Lake City team, and we’ve got “something new” covered (even though the city has won a Stanley Cup in the past). I’ve decided to balance out the “newness” with some “oldness”, so we’re giving three former NHL cities a team again. Let’s check the deets…

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 38

NHL Realignment Map - Week 38

 

The Breakdown:

Behold! The return of the 4-Confernce NHL! We’re naming them after our old skool division names—Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe. Eight teams in each division giving us a total of 32 teams. For scheduling reasons only, each conference his subdivided into two 4-team scheduling pods. Looking at the map, you’ll see the two pods in each conference separated thin, double-line. This is a rehashing of our genius plan from many weeks back to allow for a smarter, more-balanced, and more travel-freindly schedule. Please do not confuse these scheduling pods for divisions… a teams primary goal in a season is to finish in the top-four in its conference to qualify for the playoffs, pods have nothing to do with standings. Just scheduling… got it? Cool.

Smythe Conference
Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks
Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Seattle Totems San Jose Sharks
Vancouver Canucks Utah Coyotes
Norris Conference
Colorado Avalanche Chicago Blackhawks
Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings
Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators
Winnipeg Jets St. Louis Blues
Adams Conference
Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins
Hamilton Tigers Hartford Whalers
Ottawa Senators Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs Quebec Nordiques
Patrick Conference
New Jersey Devils Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers Florida Panthers
Philadelphia Flyers Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins Washington Capitals

 

Gained Teams:

Seattle, Salt Lake City, Quebec City, Hamilton, Hartford

 

Lost Teams:

Phoenix, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets

 

The Benefits:

• Geography — In a reasonably decent effort (if I do say so myself), the conferences are pretty geographically sound. The one beef someone might have is the DET/COL jaunt, but if that’s the only two-time-zone jump anyone has to make, I think we’re good… and compared to what the Wings currently deal with, I’m sure they won’t mind. Plus those teams have some nasty history… it’ll be fun.

• Travel — Games outside your conference consist of one home and one away game per team, minimizing the longest of the NHL’s trips. Scheduling pods lessen the longer trips within conference as well. Win-win.

• Rivalries —  We keep CHI/DET, NYR/NJD, PIT/PHI, MTL/BOS, so everyone should be satisfied there. The revived rivalries of BOS/HRT, QBC/MTL and the new rivalries of SEA/VAN and TOR/HML will only serve to make the NHL even awesomer…est.

• Heritage —  C’mon! The division names are awesome. Hockey is special, it’s time the conference names reflected that anew.

 

Scheduling:

In-Conference/In-Pod: 3 home & 3 away vs. 3 teams = 18 games

In-Conference/Non-Pod: 2 home & 2 away vs. 4 teams = 16 games

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

TOTAL = 82 games

 

Playoffs:

Top four teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs.

First and second round of the playoffs determine Conference champions and give us our Final Four.

Final Four team with the best record chooses its opponent for the Semi-final round (will be cool to see what factors will go into this choice—travel distance, least-hot goalie, how tired an opponent might be from previous series, etc.)

Two Semi-finals winners square off in 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 37

NHL Realignment Project - Week 37

 

West, west, west, west, east

This week we’re adding four new teams to the map west of the Gretzky-Orr line (two via expansion and two via relocation). Just to make sure the eastern side of the map doesn’t feel completely neglected we’ve allowed another relocation to stay within the Orr Conference. The Pacific Northwest has a love of hockey that is untapped and the MLS is showing us that the Vancouver/Seattle/Portland corridor has great fans that love great rivalries with their “neighbors”. Houston and KC round out the central part of our map and Quebec gets the team they deserve. I also threw Columbus a bone, and let them keep their team this week. Let’s check it out.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 37

NHL Realignment Map - Week 37

 

The Breakdown:

We’re going with a 2 conferences of 2 divisions each format. Again, we’ve named the conferences are  for Gretzky and Orr while the division names are our old favorites—Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe. Eight teams in each division giving us a total of 32 teams.

The Wayne Douglas Gretzky Conference
Smythe Division Norris Division
Anaheim Ducks Chicago Blackhawks
Calgary Flames Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings Houston Aeros
Portland Eagles Kansas City Scouts
San Jose Sharks Minnesota Wild
Seattle Totems St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks Winnipeg Jets
The Robert Gordon Orr Conference
Patrick Division Adams Division
Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins
Columbus Blue Jackets Carolina Hurricanes
Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers New York Rangers
Pittsburgh Penguins Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning Quebec Nordiques
Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals

Gained Teams:

Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, Houston, Quebec City

 

Lost Teams:

Miami, Long Island, Phoenix

 

The Benefits:

• Geography — Like last week, every team has to travel to Canada for divisional games. Every division is stretched vertically (the two easternmost a little less, but still very stretchy), so that is reasonably equal as well. All this means that nobody can whine about “Our travel leaves us at a massive disadvantage”.

• Travel — Once again, North-South is the way. Divisional games may necessitate long trips, but again, staying within your time zone or only having to travel one over makes all the difference for player fatigue and for TV ratings.

• Rivalries —  Though we lose CHI/DET, we do get TOR/DET… not bad. The NYR/NJD, the Alberta teams, Pennsylvania teams, and BOS/MTL all stay together too, so check that off your list. New teams give us great rivalries too, SEA/POR/VAN, DAL/HOU, KC/STL

• Heritage —  C’mon! The division names are awesome. Hockey is special, now the conference and division names reflect that.

 

Scheduling:

Divisional Games: 3 home & 3 away vs. 7 teams = 42 games

Non-Divisional Games: 1 home & 1 away vs. 24 teams = 48 games

TOTAL = 90 games—yay, more hockey.

 

Playoffs:

Top three from each division qualify, plus next two best records from the conference (as wildcards).

Division Champs seeded 1 & 2, based on record. All other qualifiers seeded 3-8, based on record (so yes, a wildcard can have a higher seed than a top-three qualifier. This keeps the regular season more interesting and division-focused, as finishing top-three is the first ticket into the playoffs. Wildcard is just a backdoor option to keep things a little fair for 4th and 5th placed teams in a division who is having “a super-stacked-with-awesomeness year”.

Once qualification happens (division-centric), other than division champions getting 1 & 2, it’s all about your record for seeding (conference-centric). This way we are more likely to avoid a “two-best-teams-meeting-too-early-in-the-playoffs scenario”.

(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 36

NHL Realignment Project - Week 36

Getting Vertical, Eh!

Only a day late this week! Getting better.

So this week we’re not quite as farcical as in the past few weeks, but haven’t completely re-entered the world of “reality-based” realignment either. This week’s theme is all about going Canadian. By relocating some teams and re-jiggering the divisional alignments, we’ve been able to get at least one Canadian team in each division. Let’s have a look at how this plays out.

 

The Map (Complete with goofball division names based on landmarks found at the border):

NHL Realignment Map - Week 36
NHL Realignment Map – Week 36

The Breakdown:

We’re going with the current 2 conferences of 3 divisions each format. The conferences are named for Gretzky and Orr while the division names are a little more fun—they are named for landmarks found at the borders, more-or-less where one might cross to visit the Canadian team(s) in your division… well, if the boys weren’t crossing tens-of-thousands of feet overhead in first-class luxury. This includes border straddling bridges, airports, monuments, etc. Obviously this would never fly, but whatever. Its fun.

The Wayne Douglas Gretzky Conference
Peace Arch Chief Mountain Piney Pinecreek
Anaheim Ducks Calgary Flames Chicago Blackhawks
Los Angeles Kings Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
San Jose Sharks Edmonton Oilers Minnesota Wild
Seattle Metropolitans Las Vegas Scorpions St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks Utah Coyotes Winnipeg Jets
The Robert Gordon Orr Conference
Ambassador Thousand Islands Blackpool
Detroit Red Wings Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins
Florida Panthers Carolina Hurricanes Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs Philadelphia Flyers Washington Capitals

Gained Teams:

Seattle, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas

 

Lost Teams:

Phoenix, Long Island, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Equality — Every team has to travel to Canada for divisional games (Las Vegas, Colorado and Utah need to do it a little more often… but I wasn’t about to break up the Alberta rivalry). Every division is stretched vertically (the two easternmost a little less, but still somewhat stretchy), so that is reasonably equal as well. All this means that nobody can whine about “Our travel leaves us as a massive disadvantage”. Even previously all alone Colorado gets a fairly near neighbor in the new Salt Lake City franchise.

• Travel — North-South is the way. Divisional games may necessitate long trips, but again, staying within one time-zone makes all the difference for player fatigue and for TV ratings.

• Rivalries —  Though we lose CHI/DET, we do get TOR/DET… not bad. The NYR/NJD, the Alberta teams, Pennsylvania teams, and BOS/MTL all stay together too, so check that off your list. All apologies to fans who live for the BUF/TOR games, but somebody has to sacrifice for the good of the league, right?

 

Scheduling:

Divisional Games: 3 home & 3 away vs. 4 teams = 24 games

Non-Divisional Games: 1 home & 1 away vs. 25 teams = 50 games

One additional home-and-away series against a conference opponent from each of the two divisions not your own (a five-year cycle that rotates through the conference) = 4 games

TOTAL = 78 games (bonus: we get to the playoffs quicker)

 

Playoffs:

Same as current format.

(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 35

NHL Realignment Project - Week 35

Merge and Move

This week, we’re harkening back to a year in NHL history where it wasn’t about expansion and relocation, but something else… a merger. In 1976 the Cleveland Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars, so we’re running with that precedence and doing a little house cleaning. In a cold, calculated move (based purely on numbers), we’re taking the four teams with the worst attendance this year and merging them into two new teams AND to make it even more fun, we’re moving the two resultant teams to two cities that lost their teams. OBVIOUSLY this never would happen, but I’m still in a farcical mood, avoiding reality-based realignment scenarios at least for another week. Let’s check out the fun…

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 35

NHL Realignment Map - Week 35

 

The Breakdown:

I’m actually gonna go back to the short-lived four-conference setup.

Pacific Conference Central Conference Northeast Conference Atlantic Conference
1. Anaheim Ducks 1. Chicago Blackhawks 1. Boston Bruins 1. Carolina Hurricanes
2. Calgary Flames 2. Detroit Red Wings 2. Buffalo Sabres 2. Florida Panthers
3. Colorado Avalanche 3. Kansas City Scouts 3. Montreal Canadiens 3. Hartford Whalers
4. Edmonton Oilers 4. Minnesota Wild 4. Ottawa Senators 4. New Jersey Devils
5. Los Angeles Kings 5. Nashville Predators 5. Philadelphia Flyers 5. New York Rangers
6. San Jose Sharks 6. St. Louis Blues 6. Pittsburgh Penguins 6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Vancouver Canucks 7. Winnipeg Jets 7. Toronto Maple Leafs 7. Washington Capitals

 

Gained teams:

Kansas City, Hartford

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix, Dallas, New York Islanders, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Travel — No team has conference-mates more than a single time zone over. And while the Pacific and Atlantic Conferences have pretty big north-south trips as part of their make-up, anyone who has traveled understands that that is much less taxing than east-west travel.

• TV Times — Kind of an added bonus from the previous entry, the lack of time zone insanity, keeps start times for most games within reasonable hours. Meaning better ratings and better exposure to/for young fans

• REVENGE — The folks in Hartford and Kansas City can do some happy-flips for getting their teams back. It worked for Winnipeg, right?

• Rivalries —  CHI/DET get to stay together. NY/NJ, PIT/PHI, EDM/CGY too. And KC/STL is reborn! Sorry we couldn’t get Hartford together with Boston, but they do get to jostle with their other traditional rival, NYR.

• Equity —  The conferences are all the same size… seven teams, so no whining.

 

(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 34

NHL Realignment Project - Week 34

So Long, Sunshine and Buckeye States

Only a day late, this week! Not too shabby.

Today we’re gonna take a break from solving the league’s (and the association’s) problems… since they don’t want to have the problems solved to begin with. Week 34 is back into “what if” mode (a.k.a. “Tom, you’re an idiot, that’ll never happen”). The structure stays as it currently is in the NHL, but the Florida and Ohio teams have been moved. In doing so, we’ve minimized much of the “outliers” and created divisions that are a lot more sensible then they currently are—”Pacific” Division, I’m looking at you. Oh, and the Phoenix Coyotes survived this week… thought I’d cut ’em a break.

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 34

NHL Realignment Map - Week 34

The Breakdown:

Just what the NHL/PA have decided we’re gonna be stuck with for a while—two conferences of three divisions each.

The Wayne Douglas Gretzky Conference
Northwest Division Southwest Division Central Division
Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks Chicago Blackhawks
Edmonton Oilers Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Portland Eagles Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild
Seattle Metropolitans Phoenix Coyotes St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks Winnipeg Jets
The Robert Gordon Orr Conference
Great Lakes Division Northeast Division Southeast Division
Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens Nashville Predators
Hamilton Tigers New Jersey Devils Pittsburgh Penguins
Ottawa Senators New York Islanders Philadelphia Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs New York Rangers Washington Capitals

Gained teams:

Seattle, Portland, Hamilton

 

Lost teams:

Florida, Tampa Bay, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Travel — It’s not perfect, but at least there are no crazy “Dallas and Minnesota traveling two time zones for a divisional game” scenarios. Divisions are pretty much as compact as they can been given the realities of geography. Obviously the 15 western-most teams have to travel more, compared to what some of them currently do, I’m sure many would say this is pretty damn good.

• The Detroit Problem — Detroit finally gets their wish of moving East. Columbus did too… unfortunately for CBJ fans, they moved East AND North… to Hamilton.

• Cohesive Northwest — Moving the Florida teams to the Pacific Northwest instantly makes the Northwest Division infinitely more interesting and sensible… Seattle and Portland is far more likely to become what we hoped Tampa/Miami would become they they actually did become (at least the Lightning won a Cup, though).

• Rivalries —  Though we lose CHI/DET, we do get TOR/DET… not bad. The NYC-area teams, the Alberta teams, Pennsylvania teams, and BOS/MTL all stay together too, so check that off your list.

 

Not even gonna bother with scheduling or playoffs this week. I like my solution from last week so much, I’m just gonna bask in that glory for a while longer.

 

(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 33

NHL Realignment Project - Week 33

All the People, All the Time 

Okay, our short-lived happiness (or hatred for many others) of having finally gotten a bold new NHL that accentuates rivalries tries something new and isn’t just and NBA-on-ice is over and done with. Yes, we understand a good chunk of the purpose behind the plan in the first place was to act as a veiled first salvo against the NHLPA in the forthcoming CBA renegotiation… and begrudgingly I have to admit that it was a pretty brilliant calculation by the billionaires getting them the ever-elusive “win-win situation” against the millionaires. But whatever the reasons/ploys/shenanigans (for both the proposal and rejection) NHL realignment is where it is now… a necessary ingredient for future NHL success that is in more treacherous waters than ever AND now with tons of declared “issues” that one side or the other doesn’t want to have included.

So where do we go from here?

My seething anger at the snafu in general, and more specifically, the dark CBA implications that it foreshadows has died down a bit in the last 24 hours and  I’m ready to continue with the NHLRP. This week I’m gonna root my efforts in reality and do my very best to please all the people (we’re supposedly able to do this some of the time, no?).

I’ve cut out the BS, and sold the Phoenix franchise to suitors from Quebec City. The NHL (the league office, that is) is no longer in the business of running teams. If you’re an owner and want out, you find a buyer and you sell. If you can’t, your team is auctioned, and if necessary moved to a new city… and we do the re-alignment dance again.

The basis of this week’s map is this: there are TWO CONFERENCES made up of FIVE DIVISIONS each. Your principal job as a team in the new NHL is to win your division… basically, have a better record than the other two teams in your division and you’re in to the playoffs. The in-division hatred and rivalry will be amped up beyond belief with 8 games versus each of your two division-mates each season. To satisfy the “But wait, I’m in a stronger conference—boo-hoo” camp, if you don’t win your division, there are three wild-card spots in each conference available to sneak in you into the playoffs too. More on all this later. First let’s look at the map.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 33

NHL Realignment Map - Week 33

 

The Breakdown:

Again, we have two conferences, named after (arguably) the best defenseman and the best forward of all time, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. In something more akin to the pod structure we’ve featured in a few past NHLRP entires, the conferences are divided into very small divisions of three teams each. In addition to being all equal in size (addressing one of the grumblings of the NHLPA and others in the now-dead plan), these smaller conferences lend themselves to a much better scheduling/travel structure as we’ll see in a bit as well (addressing an issue both sides have sited). Here is how the teams fit into the divisions. I tried my best to keep geographic and traditional rivals together (this one is mostly for the fans).

The Wayne Gretzky Conference The Bobby Orr Conference
Northwest Northeast
Calgary Flames Boston Bruins
Edmonton Oilers Montreal Canadiens
Vancouver Canucks Quebec Nordiques
   
Central North
Colorado Avalanche Buffalo Sabres
Minnesota Wild Ottawa Senators
Winnipeg Jets Toronto Maple Leafs
   
Heartland Empire
Chicago Blackhawks New Jersey Devils
Columbus Blue Jackets New York Islanders
Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers
   
Pacific Mid-Atlantic
Anaheim Ducks Philadelphia Flyers
Los Angeles Kings Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks Washington Capitals
   
South Southeast
Dallas Stars Carolina Hurricanes
Nashville Predators Florida Panthers
St. Louis Blues Tampa Bay Lightning
   

Gained teams:

Quebec City

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix

 

The Benefits:

• Scheduling/Travel — Listen up, NHL and PA (and you too, Red Wings 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. By the way, if you need someone to write a program that will whip out a sample schedule (another of the NHLPA’s beefs, I know a guy… just send us a slice of your millions and billions and consider it done.

• 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, DET/CHI, MTL/BOS, the 3 California teams, the 3 Western Canada teams are all keep alive and well.

• Homage/Heritage — We get to name the two Conferences after two great players who I hear are great guys as well. (Plus with 10 divisions mostly having directional names, I wasn’t about to throw two more directional names into the mix)

• 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 Detroit and 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 Wings and Jackets would only have two more of those than they would have Eastern Time Zone road-trips. The Stars, Ducks, Kings and Sharks no longer have to deal with a divisional opponent two time zones away either. Two MAJOR scheduling issues resolved! If they gave out Nobel Prizes for this kind of work… I’d like your support during the process, everyone. If a Nobel Prize is outta the question, I’d settle for life-time tickets to the Stanley Cup finals……….. or some backlinks.

 

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 is just better when divisions mean more than conferences. 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).

“LAYWERED!”

*Drops Mic*

 

(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 32

NHL Realignment Project - Week 32

Seeking 32 (Quebec City, Portland, Kansas City, Houston)

First of all, sorry (again) for the very late post this week… Trying my best to get back on schedule, and with the bombshell today of the NHLPA forcing the NHL to drop its realignment plan, I REALLY need to get back on track as traffic is gonna pick up again on this blog. But I digress… back to the show:

With all the news, this is my last installment of the “Seeking 32” concept (for a while at least). I’ll be switching back to more viable plans since Gary B. and the Boyz™ will be Googling for solutions and land here on the site soon. So here’s the plan. Just like last week, we’re going to subdivide our 8-team conferences into two 4-team scheduling pods again. One major change from last week is the “College Football-ification” of the NHL South. Adding Houston and KC and removing Washington, has given this regional conference a very unified regional feel. The atmosphere would be great, I think. Plus, the recent sale of the Dallas Stars to Tom Gaglardi and the instant uptick in attendance proves that (with strong front-office backing (and lower ticket prices)) hockey can flourish in Big12/SEC country.

On another fun note, DC and Ottawa could become an interesting conference rivalry the two capital cities going at it six times per year would be cool.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 32

NHL Realignment Map - Week 32

 

The Breakdown:

Again, our conferences all have eight teams… but each is made up of 2 pods of four teams (pods are only for scheduling reasons). Conferences are named for the four cardinal directions: West, South, East, North.

NHL West NHL South NHL East NHL North
1. Anaheim Ducks 1. Dallas Stars 1. New Jersey Devils 1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Colorado Avalanche 2. Houston Aeros 2. New York Rangers 2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Los Angeles Kings 3. Kansas City Scouts 3. Philadelphia Flyers 3. Minnesota Wild
4. San Jose Sharks 4. St. Louis Blues 4. Pittsburgh Penguins 4. Winnipeg Jets
5. Calgary Flames 5. Carolina Hurricanes 5. Boston Bruins 5. Buffalo Sabres
6. Edmonton Oilers 6. Florida Panthers 6. Montreal Canadiens 6. Ottawa Senators
7. Portland Eagles 7. Nashville Predators 7. New York Islanders 7. Toronto Maple Leafs
8. Vancouver Canucks 8. Tampa Bay Lightning 8. Quebec Nordiques 8. Washington Capitals

 

Gained teams:

Quebec City, Houston, Portland, Kansas City

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Scheduling — We’ve finally cracked the code for scheduling… the scheduling pods made all the difference. See the “scheduling” section a little below for the deets.

• 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), this evening up of the conferences nullifies the argument altogether. (Again, for an excellent analysis on this whole argument, check out Bjorn Mikkelsen’s Blog).

• Something Closer to Travel Equity — Unlike all the efforts to minimize travel that so many have strived to achieve, we’ve actually increased travel for most teams. In an effort to create a more balanced travel schedule across the league we’ve “forced” every team to be in a conference that has a “medium-distance” travel load. The NHL West has a heavier north-and-south travel burden… while the NHL North and the NHL South have a heavier east-and-west travel burden. The East kinda escapes the heaviest of the travel, but thems-was-da-breaks in my effort to get the scheduling pods to work best and keep rivals together as best as we could.

• Rivalries —  The major rivalries preserved in Gary’s plan are still here but amplified with the scheduling pods, plus we get new DAL/HOU, KC/STL, OTT/WSH, POR/VAN a to enjoy now… not to mention the Montreal/Quebec rivalry that will be revived as well. Detroit and Chicago stay together. In the few instances where a good rivalry didn’t stay together in a pod (NYI/NYR, DET/TOR)… they are still in the same conference an so do still play each other more often than non-conference opponents. Speaking of scheduling…

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays all it’s non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 24 teams = 48 games

Each team plays it’s in-pod opponents three at home and three on the road: 6 games x 3 teams = 18 games

Each team plays it’s in-conference opponents (but not in-pod) twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 4 teams = 16 games

48 games + 18 games + 16 games = 82 games

If they gave out Nobel Prizes for this kind of work… I’d like your support during the process. If a Nobel Prize is outta the question, I’d settle for life-time tickets to the Stanley Cup finals……….. or some backlinks.

 

Playoffs:

• Top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs

• Round One: Conference Semifinals — #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3

• Round Two: Conference Finals — Semifinal winners faceoff

• Round Three: “Frozen Four” type matchup. Conference Champ with the best record chooses which opponent they will face.

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals

 

Just when we’d figured it all out, the NHLPA throughs a wrench into the works. Bright side? More blog traffic and TONS of ad revenue (I’m down to 11 years to go before I’ve earned enough to get my first check from Google) 🙂

 

(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 31

NHL Realignment Project - Wk31

Seeking 32 (Quebec City, Seattle, Houston)

First of all, sorry for the very late post this week… Christmas and its aftermath have been a beatdown. But better late than never, eh? This week we take our “Seeking 32” idea and mess with it a bit. We do get to 32 teams in 4 conferences, but we through a tiny bit of a wrinkle in things by further dividing each conference into 2 pods of 4 teams each… now, before everyone freaks out, it is FOR SCHEDULING REASONS ONLY! Come back down off the ledges please, everyone… we’re not even gonna name them. Playoff format is still the same (top four in each conference qualify, but now you intensify the rivalries with your traditional and/or closest rivals and the schedule is a little more sensible.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 31

NHL Realignment Map - Week 31

 

The Breakdown:

Again, our conferences all have eight teams… but (only for scheduling reasons), each is made up of 2 pods of four teams. Conferences are named for the four cardinal directions: West, South, East, North.

NHL West NHL South NHL East NHL North
1. Anaheim Ducks 1. Dallas Stars 1. New Jersey Devils 1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Colorado Avalanche 2. Houston Aeros 2. New York Rangers 2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Los Angeles Kings 3. Nashville Predators 3. Philadelphia Flyers 3. Minnesota Wild
4. San Jose Sharks 4. St. Louis Blues 4. Pittsburgh Penguins 4. Winnipeg Jets
5. Calgary Flames 5. Carolina Hurricanes 5. Boston Bruins 5. Buffalo Sabres
6. Edmonton Oilers 6. Florida Panthers 6. Montreal Canadiens 6. Columbus Blue Jackets
7. Seattle Metropolitans 7. Tampa Bay Lightning 7. New York Islanders 7. Ottawa Senators
8. Vancouver Canucks 8. Washington Capitals 8. Quebec Nordiques 8. Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Gained teams:

Quebec City, Houston, Seattle

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix

 

The Benefits:

• Scheduling — We’ve finally cracked the code for scheduling… the scheduling pods made all the difference. See the “scheduling” section a little below for the deets.

• Fairness — While I, myself 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), this evening up of the conferences nullifies the argument altogether. (Again, for an excellent analysis on this whole argument, check out Bjorn Mikkelsen’s Blog).

• Something Closer to Travel Equity — Unlike all the efforts to minimize travel that so many have strived to achieve, we’ve actually increased travel for most teams. In an effort to create a more balanced travel schedule across the league we’ve “forced” every team to be in a conference that has a “medium-distance” travel load. The NHL West has a heavier north-and-south travel burden… while the NHL North and the NHL South have a heavier east-and-west travel burden. The East kinda escapes the heaviest of the travel, but thems was the breaks in my effort to get the scheduling pods to work best and keep rivals together as best as we could.

• Rivalries —  The major rivalries preserved in Gary’s plan are still here but amplified with the scheduling pods, plus we get a Dallas/Houston one to enjoy now… not to mention the Montreal/Quebec rivalry that will be revived as well. Detroit and Chicago stay together. In the few instances where a good rivalry didn’t stay together in a pod (NYI/NYR, DET/TOR)… they are still in the same conference an so do still play each other more often than non-conference opponents. Speaking of scheduling…

 

Scheduling:

Each team plays all it’s non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 24 teams = 48 games

Each team plays it’s in-pod opponents three at home and three on the road: 6 games x 3 teams = 18 games

Each team plays it’s in-conference opponents (but not in-pod) twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 4 teams = 16 games

48 games + 18 games + 16 games = 82 games

If they gave out Nobel Prizes for this kind of work… I’d like your support during the process. If a Nobel Prize is outta the question, I’d settle for life-time tickets to the Stanley Cup finals……….. or some backlinks.

 

Playoffs:

• Top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs

• Round One: Conference Semifinals — #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3

• Round Two: Conference Finals — Semifinal winners faceoff

• Round Three: “Frozen Four” type matchup. Conference Champ with the best record chooses which opponent they will face.

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals

 

And there you have it.

 

(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 30

NHL Realignment Project - Week 30

Seeking 32 (KC, QBC, Hamilton, Portland)

This week, we continue our effort to find the “perfect 32” homes for a slightly expanded NHL. Last week we left all current host-cities alone, just adding two new cities (Kansas City and Quebec) to bring us up to 32 teams. This week, we’re a little less nice. Gone are Phoenix and Columbus and we add two Canadian teams as well as two American teams to bring us up to the magic number. We also tweaked the layout of the four conferences a bit… making travel a little bit more equitable across the board.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 30

NHL Realignment Map - Week 30

 

The Breakdown:

Again, our conferences all have eight teams. Conferences are named for the four cardinal directions: West, South, East, North.

NHL West NHL South NHL East NHL North
1. Anaheim Ducks 1. Carolina Hurricanes 1. Buffalo Sabres 1. Boston Bruins
2. Calgary Flames 2. Dallas Stars 2. Chicago Blackhawks 2. Florida Panthers
3. Colorado Avalanche 3. Kansas City Scouts 3. Detroit Red Wings 3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Edmonton Oilers 4. Nashville Predators 4. Hamilton Tigers 4. New Jersey Devils
5. Los Angeles 5. Philadelphia Flyers 5. Minnesota Wild 5. New York Islanders
6. Portland Eagles 6. Pittsburgh Penguins 6. Ottawa Senators 6. New York Rangers
7. San Jose Sharks 7. St. Louis Blues 7. Toronto Maple Leafs 7. Quebec Nordiques
8. Vancouver Canucks 8. Washington Capitals 8. Winnipeg Jets 8. Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Gained teams:

Kansas City, Quebec City, Portland, Hamilton

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Simplicity — It’s much easier (especially for casual or new fans) to understand the setup of the league.

• Fairness — While I, myself 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), this evening up of the conferences nullifies the argument altogether. (For an excellent analysis on this whole argument, check out Bjorn Mikkelsen’s Blog).

• Travel equity — Unlike all the efforts to minimize travel that so many have strived to achieve, we’ve actually increased travel for most teams. In an effort to create a more balanced travel schedule across the league we’ve “forced” every team to be in a conference that has a “medium-distance” travel load. The NHL West and NHL East have a heavier north-and-south travel burden… while the NHL North and the NHL South have a heavier east-and-west travel burden. I’m going to stop trying to explain this with words, now and just refer you back up to the map. 🙂

• Rivalries —  The major rivalries preserved in Gary’s plan are still here, plus we get a Kansas City/St. Louis one to enjoy now… not to mention the Montreal/Quebec rivalry that will be revived as well. Hamilton drops into the middle of the Golden Crescent to make a nice trifecta. Detroit and Chicago stay together, but join the Leafs to make a conference with three Original Six teams. The remaining three O6 teams (Montreal, Boston and New York) are all in a single conference as well.

 

Scheduling:

Same set up as last week:

Each team plays all it’s non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 24 teams = 48 games

Each team plays it’s conference-mates twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 7 teams = 28 games

One home and one away with a single team from each of the other three conferences (rotating each year… completing the loop every eight seasons): 2 games x 3 teams = 6 games

48 games + 28 games + 6 games = 82 games

 

Playoffs:

• Top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs

• Round One: Conference Semifinals — #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3

• Round Two: Conference Finals — Semifinal winners faceoff

• Round Three: “Frozen Four” type matchup. Conference Champ with the best record chooses which opponent they will face.

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals

 

And there you have it.

 

(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 ».