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 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 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 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 ».