NHL Realignment Project – Week 38

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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 34

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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 30

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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 ».