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 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 ».


 

Report: Phoenix Coyotes sale nearly complete to Greg Jamison; NHL team to stay in Glendale | Puck Daddy – Yahoo! Sports

Just what the folks in Seattle, Kansas City and Quebec City didn’t want to hear… Hey, there’s always the Islanders.

Report: Phoenix Coyotes sale nearly complete to Greg Jamison; NHL team to stay in Glendale | Puck Daddy – Yahoo! Sports ».

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 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 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 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 ».


NHL Realignment Project – Week 27

NHL Realignment Project - Week 27

Dear, Gary 

Consider this week’s week’s entry an open letter to Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors. I’ve completely grounded this realignment plan in reality. As mundane as that may seem compared to some of the admittedly farcical entries over the last six months, with the BOG meetings coming up soon, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. This is a really huge entry, so grab a drink and settle in.

Esteemed Board of Governers and Commissioner Bettman:

We the fans of the National Hockey League, and I, Thomas J. Fulery, the Internet’s (un)official voice of NHL realignment, humbly ask that you take our realignment plan under serious consideration as you meet on the 5th and 6th of December.

This plan is fair, it relieves stresses for teams that have been stuck in unfortunate division situations for years, honors two of the games greats AND keeps rivalries intact. It is a synthesis of systems that have been proven to popular in the past with systems that have worked well more recently. Geography and travel burdens have been taken into account as well as the realities of the potential changes in landscape over the next two-three years.

First, let’s have a look at the map, the breakdown, the benefits and the logistics. Following these, we share some contingencies that will future-proof this plan, leaving the league ready to absorb whatever changes come its way in the foreseeable future.

The Map (click anywhere on the map to enlarge):

NHL Realignment Map - Week 27

The Realigned NHL 2012-2013

The Breakdown:

The league retains it’s current two conference setup,but each conference is split into only two divisions. Conferences are named for (arguably) greatest offensive and defensive players in the history of the game, Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr, respectively. Divisions leverage geography for their naming. The table below shows the leagues setup and also illustrates heritage spread across the divisions with at least three Stanely Cup winners (*) and at least one Original Six (†) or ’67 Expansion (#) team in each of the four divisions.

The Wayne Gretzky Conference (14 teams)
Western Division Central Division
1. Anaheim Ducks * 1. Chicago Blackhawks *†
2. Calgary Flames * 2. Colorado Avalanche *
3. Edmonton Oilers * 3. Dallas Stars *#
4. Los Angeles Kings # 4. Minnesota Wild
5. Phoenix Coyotes 5. Nashville Predators
6. San Jose Sharks 6. St. Louis Blues #
7. Vancouver Canucks 7. Winnipeg Jets
The Bobby Orr Conference (16 teams)
Northern Division Eastern Division
1. Boston Bruins *† 1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Detroit Red Wings* † 2. Carolina Hurricanes *
3. Montreal Canadiens *† 3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. New Jersey Devils * 4. Florida Panthers
5. New York Islanders * 5. Philadelphia Flyers *#
6. New York Rangers *† 6. Pittsburgh Penguins *#
7. Ottawa Senators 7. Tampa Bay Lightning *
8. Toronto Maple Leafs *† 8. Washington Capitals

 

The Benefits:

• Heritage — As mentioned above every division has at several Stanley Cup winners and at least one Original Six or ’67 Expansion team.

• Travel and TV start times — No division spans more than two time zones. Travel burdens are lessened and fans of traveling teams have less frequent late-start (and later finish) times to contend with.

• Rivalries —  Though we do lose Chicago and Detroit as division rivals, we maintain every other traditional/geographic rivalry (PIT/PHI, BOS/MTL, CGY/EDM, CHI/MIN etc). Additionally we create many new natural ones (PHI/WSH, PIT/BUF, DET/TOR, DAL/STL, DAL/COL, NYR/BOS, etc)

 

Scheduling:

To accomodate the following schedule set up, the league will have to expand the season by four games leaving us with 86. Teams would play every other team in the league at least once at home and at least once on the road. Teams would play teams within their division four times per season and teams outside of their division once at home and once on the road. Additionally, each year, at team would play another home-and-away series against all the teams in a single division in the opposite conference.

 

Gretzky Conference Teams:

  • Versus 6 in-division rivals — 4 games (24 total)
  • Versus 7 non-division Gretzky Conference Teams — 2 games (14 total)
  • Versus 16 non-conference opponents in a both divisions — 2 games (32 total)
  • Versus 8 non-conference opponents in a single division (rotating back and forth each year) — 2 games (16 total)
  • 24+14+32+16 = 86 games

 

Orr Conference Teams:

  • Versus 7 in-division rivals — 4 games (28 total)
  • Versus 8 non-division Gretzky Conference Teams — 2 games (16 total)
  • Versus 14 non-conference opponents in a both divisions — 2 games (28 total)
  • Versus 7 non-conference opponents in a single division (rotating back and forth each year) — 2 games (14 total)
  • 28+16+28+14 = 86 games

 

Playoffs:

The post-season breaks down as follows:

  • The 1st-4th place teams in each division qualify for the playoffs
  • The first and second rounds of the playoffs determine division champions (first round matchups: 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3) and yield a “final four”
  • The third round of the playoffs serves as the Conference Championships and yield the Stanley Cup finalists
  • The fourth round of the playoffs is the Stanley Cup Finals yielding the year’s NHL Champion

 

That is our plan for the 2011-2012 NHL Season.

 

Mapping the future potential directions of the NHL:

The next two maps look at very possible scenarios that the NHL may be faced with in the near future. The franchise in Phoenix is foremost in the minds of fans, but future movement may also happen. Speaking for myself, I would prefer that no additional relocations take place and that expansion be the route that brings (or returns) the NHL to cities currently without them (see the entire NHL Realignment Project for those scenarios). But the reality is that Phoenix needs attention and at least two cities in the NHL have the necessary facilities, the necessary fan base or both to make this franchise a success.
This first scenario, takes the 2011-2012 map proposed above and shows how alignment would look if the Phoenix franchise were purchased and moved to Kansas City. Realignment would be minimal with Colorado moving west to replace Phoenix in the Western Division and Kansas City taking the vacated spot in the Central Division. KC has an NHL-ready arena and a built-in natural rival in the St. Louis Blues. Neither logistics nor the structure would be altered from the system we described above. Here is the map:
NHL Realignment Map - Week 27 (PHX-to-KC)

The NHL Realigned - Near Future (PHX-to-KC)

The second scenario takes the same 2011-2012 map we presented earlier and shows how alignment would look if the Phoenix franchise were purchased and relocated to Quebec City. Quebec has a passionate fan base ready to reclaim their position in the NHL (not to mention their rivalry with the Habs). Realignment would be a bit more complex than the Kansas City model, but still quite feasible. Quebec would be part of the Northern Division, Columbus would move across our conference divide into the Central Division, claiming the spot made vacant by Colorado’s move to the Western Division, in turn filling the void made by Phoenix’s move to Quebec. Detroit complete realignment with a move to the Eastern Division to keep both Orr Conferences at eight teams and maintaining the logistics/structure we outlined above.
NHL Realignment Map - Week 27 (PHX-to-QBC)

The NHL Realigned - Near Future (PHX-to-QBC)

In sum, this is the collected and recommended thoughts on NHL realignment and potential relocation(s) from the NHL Realignment Project. In the coming weeks, we will continue our exercise of mapping out potential scenarios for the shape, size and structure of (y)our beloved NHL.

 

Thank you for your time and attention.

— Thomas J. Fulery (and the fans of the NHL)

 

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

 

As always, thanks for reading (especially you, Gary). Until next Sunday!

— TF

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