After Sunrise

The Florida Panthers have always been the easy whipping-boy for the “hockey doesn’t belong in non-traditional markets” crowd. They are also always the first picked on by the “NHL realignment is easy, just do this….” crowd.

The reality is, they have one of the cushiest arena leases out there (and for 14 more years). So I’ve never put too much stock in the Panthers-to-this-city-or-that noise. But this recent article makes things a little more interesting.

Obviously, owners of franchises always talk a lot of crap when they are trying to squeeze more “free money” out of the tax base, but when an owner starts saying thing like “unsustainable” and talks of getting a break on what would be an $80 million lease buy out, there may be a little fire to that smoke. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s mostly posturing to get the $80 million subsidy they’ve tried to twice in the last little while (coincidentally the same amount as the lease buyout amount)… but, my adjective has shifted to “mostly” from “totally.”

I’m sure new owner Vincent Viola would totally take the taxpayers’ money if it happens, but I also don’t think it’s far-fetched for him to move the team if he doesn’t get an even more favorable agreement in Sunrise.

That was a really long intro to the following musing for a new map (it’s been forever since I made one, I know).

Picture if you will, an NHL where the league finally admits they are ready to expand. Thanks to crazy money being talked about for a second GTA team, and, I’m sure somewhat crazy money for a return team for Quebec City, some 1-2 billion bucks are to be split between the 30 ownership groups. If Viola can negotiate down from the $80 million he’d have to pay Sunrise to leave, plus a bunch o’ new money in his pocket, it’s not too far-fetched that he’d do it.

Now in this scenario he could be the owner for the “we don’t have an owner” but let’s get the NHL in Vegas hullabaloo we’ve all heard. Or he could be the guy that finally hitches his wagon to Hansen and gets the MOU changed to allow hockey-first in the Seattle arena deal? Or perhaps he could just move over to existing NHL arenas in Kansas City or Houston. Whichever way, let’s look at the maps that show this new NHL… just in time for the league’s centennial celebration:

 

The Seattle Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-SEA

 

The Las Vegas Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-LV

 

 

The Houston Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-HOU

 

The Kansas City Version:

Centennial-NHL-Realignment-Map-KC

 

Some notes:

  • Four eight-team conferences. Just like ol’ Gary originally wanted until the mathematicians out there all screamed about unfair, mathematical advantages to teams in smaller conferences.
  • No wild-card. That’s was Gary’s cop out to allow for the unbalanced conferences (that were changed back to divisions)
  • Top four teams in each conference make the playoffs
  • First two rounds determine conference champions… a “final four” if you will
  • Final Four are reseeded based on regular season record for “Stanley Cup Semi-finals” — 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3.
  • Yes, this is a really good thing… With four conferences sending representatives to the semifinals instead of two conferences sending their champs directly to the final, the potential a very imbalanced dud of a final series goes down… not to mention the chance for an original-six Stanley Cup Finals goes up. New York vs. Boston for the Cup, anyone? Pens vs. Leafs… SportsNet and NBC execs have just passed out.
  • I’ve brought back Smythe, Norris Adams, and Patrick. A bonus way to celebrate the tradition of 100 years of NHL hockey… bringing back the cool-ass, no other league has it naming structure.
  • Yes, I know that I’ve put the second GTA team a not-Eastern Conference. Anyone willing to pay upwards of a billion dollars on expansion, is going to be okay with the stipulation that they play 23 of their 82 games (see schedule below) outside of their timezone.

Schedule:

48 games — Home and Home versus non-confernce opponents

28 games — 2 Home/2 Away versus conference-mates

6 games — An additional Home and Away versus one team in each of the other three conferences (rotates through all teams each eight years)

I think that works out. 82 games

 

Caveats for all this: I’m tired and not good at math, so there might be something wrong in the above schedule… I have no insider info on the goings on of the NHL, the Panthers, or any other team… I’m just a guy with photoshop, wordpress, a nurse wife working an overnight tonight and a daughter that mercifully went to bed at a decent hour … No need to call me an idiot in the comments, I already know this… don’t take this seriously (hey, my name is Tom Fulery)… I don’t wish any ill on the Panther fan base—losing a team must suck really badly (my friend and former Thrashers season-ticket holder, still isn’t over it)… I used the “Toronto Legacy” logo from the now defunct torontolegacy.com site—I claim no rights to it (nor any of the other logos)… I stuck a scorpion in Las Vegas, just cuz.

Thanks and good night:

— TF

NHL arena motion rescheduled due to Germany trip

An update on the latest goings-on in the Markham Arena deal-or-no-deal:

 

NHL arena motion rescheduled due to Germany trip.

Devils!!!

Puddy-Jagr-to-Devils

Jagr makes Puddy super-excited (TSN)»

 

 

2013-14 NHL Map – Now with Official Division Names

 

I can’t say I love the “Metropolitan” name. But, overall it’s better than shifting the Central to the Eastern Time Zone.

Click the map to enlarge.

 

NHL-Realignment-Map-2013-14-Final-Division-Names

Nate Silver Optimizes the NHL

In his NY Times post, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver steps away from politics and baseball to take on the NHL. The post’s title, “Why Can’t Canada Win the Stanley Cup?” is a lead-in premise to his re-imagining of a more balanced league in terms of where and how intense fanbases seem to be.

It’s nice to see a mind far smarter and more analytical than my feeble patchwork of five or six braincells look at how to better the league.

I’ve taken his new 28-team optimized NHL and put my ol’ realignment spin on it. Same guidelines apply as my NHL Realignment Project:

1). Keep the conferences limited to one or two time zones (a.k.a limit East-West travel);

2.) Preserve rivalries as much as logistically possible.

Here’s the map (click it for full size):

NHL Realignment Nate Silver/Tom Fulery Mashup

Bonus Tidbits (mmmmmmmmmm Timbits):

  • I’ve used the four conference, no divisions format
  • The conferences bring back the old school names used for divisions from 1974-1993
  • The new Dallas Stars logo is used
  • Quebec Nordiques, Hamilton Tigers, Montreal Maroons are all throwback names to previous NHL teams located in each of those locales.
  • Seattle Metropolitans, while never an NHL team, was a PCHA team that played from 1915-1924, and was the first American team to win the Stanley Cup (wikipedia article)
  • Toronto Legacy is a name used by a movement for getting a team into Markham, Ontario (site).

Nice to post something about realignment again. I gotta say, I missed it.

As always, thanks for reading… and make sure to check out Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t

Check out the rest of the NHL Realignment Project too, in case you missed it.

– Tom

NHL Realignment – Do It Yourself Map Kit

Included in the following ZIP file is a Photoshop file of the NHL realignment the league announced recently with a ton of layers you can turn on and off, and selectable teams that can be relocated (or contracted) at will. If you want to add team logos that aren’t part of the current 30, there are plenty of resources online for finding those. But again, this template has the current 30 teams divvied up the way Gary and the Boyz™ decided was best, with the style of connectors that I’ve been using for the last (quite a) few months.

Also included is a blank version that you can divvy up the way you think is best using your own version of connector lines… who says you need to make ‘em look like mine, right? Again the current 30 teams are included, but this is a flattened image file, so no relocations.

Not included are the fonts I used (those cost money)… but you can switch ‘em to system fonts like Arial easy enough.

Click on the icon below to download.

Enjoy!

— Tom

zipNHL-Realignment-Map-DIY

 

NHL Realignment Map 2013-14

Now that it has been approved, here is “The Official Tom Fulery Version” of the 2013-14 NHL realignment (click image to enlarge):

 

UPDATE: The league has officially announced division names.

An updated map can be found here »

 

 

NHL Realignment 2013-14

NHL Realignment 2013-14

Realigning the NHL the Right Way

My final proposal is just a little too late. And it’s too bad, because I went all “Howard Hughes” obsessive with it and made it into more of an infographic — and the Scheduling Pods and Scheduling Quads concept was so cool… oh well.

In both phases of this two phase plan:

Chicago fans can now calm down as I’ve put the Wings back in your conference.

Wings fans, please put down the pitchforks. In phase two of the plan, your team only has to play nine road games per season in the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones… and you get to play the Leafs and the Rangers four times each during the regular season… and the Habs and Bruins twice each, rounding out the Original Six.

Click the thumbnail to expand to the full size infographic.

 

Two Step NHL Realignment

Two Step NHL Realignment

 

 

Oh, You Want a RADICAL Realignment?

You all knew I wouldn’t be able to stop.

Here is the most radical, yet positively doable re-imagining of the NHL yet. It’s a crazy hybridization of the plans being tossed around lately, plus relocation and expansion. It addresses the biggest gripe of the latest realignment—Chicago losing Detroit as a more-than-two-games-per-season opponent. It does however keep the other gripe that half(ish) fans have, the “final four” playoff style. Also, since we’ve upped to 32 teams, there shall be no whining about uneven/unfair playoff chances.

The key to it all is this: In addition to Conference opponents, each team gets two non-confence rivals which whom they have an additional home-and-home series. I picked the pairings based on previous rivalry history (i.e. Chicago/Detroit), relocation history (i.e. Quebec City/Colorado), Stanley Cup finals history (i.e. LA/Montreal). These pairings can obviously be tweaked, but the idea is there, and dare I say, really interesting to me.

I’ll stop talking now… other than to apologize to the fans in Miami and Phoenix.

Additional Note: Florida to Houston could just as easily be to Kansas City or Milwaukee or some other Central Time Zone city.

Click the image to enlarge and read the details:

Radical NHL Realignment — Crazy can sometimes work.

Radical NHL Realignment — Crazy can sometimes work.

NHL realignment: New plan a win for nearly everybody – SBNation.com

DefendingBigD‘s Brandon Worley presents his take on the NHL’s new realignment plan. Dallas’ placement in the Pacific is one of the main inspirations for my year-long NHL Realignment Project, and the folks over at DBD is THE place for Stars fans to to their thing. Good stuff, Brandon.

NHL realignment: New plan a win for nearly everybody – SBNation.com »