NHL Realignment Project – Week 47

NHL Realignment Project - Week 47

La Key en Rose

Hello again, everyone. After a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long hiatus, I’m back with another reshaping of the NHL.

First, all apologies for going dark for so many months. Business is picking up over in the real world, so unlike the NHL and the PA, I’m working a lot these days. Another reason I’ve placed my attention elsewhere is the fact that Mrs. Fulery and I are expecting our first child soon and that really takes over your life… so far in a very good way.

Besides, not much has happened in hockey since I went away anyways, right? :P

This week we look at a scenario that involves two cities losing their teams (one unlikely and the other definitely possible) to two cities that are in the Pacific Northwest. Both have arenas that can hold hockey (one well (The Rose Garden) and one not well at all (Key Arena)). While we’re much more likely to see teams in Quebec City or Markham before Portland, this would be a fun scenario for this WHL-centric part of the world.

 

The Map

NHL Realignment Map - Week 47

NHL Realignment Map – Week 47

The Breakdown:

This week’s re-imagined league brings back one of my favorite breakdowns — two conferences, each made up of five divisions of three teams.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Northwest Division
Portland Coyotes
Seattle Metros
Vancouver Canucks
Southwest Division
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Mountain Division
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers
Lakes Division
Chicago Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild
Winnipeg Jets
Central Division
Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
EASTERN CONFERENCE
Niagra Division
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Liberty Division
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals
Southeast Division
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Northeast Division
Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Empire Division
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers

 

Gained teams:

Seattle, Portland

 

Lost teams:

Phoenix, Columbus

 

The Benefits:

• Focus — With more divisions, the main focus of an NHL team’s season is to win its division to guarantee it’s spot in the playoffs. Beat the other two teams in your division and your in. If you don’t, you still have three wildcard slots to shoot for, so its not an “all or nothing” situation, but its a lot closer… and hopefully more exciting.

• Rivalries — As an addendum to the last point, the other two teams in your division will become such hated rivals, that all games against them will be insanely great. Even when you team is in a bit of a slight swoon, you still have something to play for… just beat the two main rivals a lot and a playoff chance is a good bet.

• Travel — With Detroit now in the Eastern Conference, and Dallas and Winnipeg playing in divisions that actually make sense for their geographic locations, travel will be the last thing teams can complain about… not that that will stop ‘em.

Scheduling:

Each team plays:

- against its two division-mates four times at home and four times on the road each:
 8 games x 2 teams = 16 games

- against the teams in the other divisions within the conference once at home and once on the road:
2 games x 12 teams = 24 games

- an additional home-and-home series agains the teams of two of the divisions within the conference (flips to the the other two divisions within conference each year):
2 games x 6 teams = 12 games

- against its fifteen non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road:
2 games x 15 teams = 30 games
16 + 24 + 12 + 30 = 82 game season

Playoffs:

• Top team from each division qualifies (Seeded 1-5 based on overall record)

• Three best records amongst non-division winners qualify as wildcards (Seeded 6-8 based on overall record).

• Pairings/home-ice reset to match seedings after each round

• All best-of-seven series (I don’t want sixteenwins.com to have to change their name)

Acknowledgements:

Again, I can’t imagine Portland would skip ahead of some of the other oft-mentioned cities for NHL franchises (Quebec City and Markham particularly), but it would create such an amazing crucible of hate in the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor, I wouldn’t argue against it. If the NHL expands to 32 teams in the future (most think that is the ultimate goal) it would be great if the Pacific Northwest was a part of it… and it would be a far less-risky enterprise than Gary’s 90s push for sunbelt hockey.

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 26

NHL Realignment Project - Week 26

Oh Six (One Last Time)

It’s hard to believe, but we’re HALF WAY THROUGH our lil’ project. Week 26 sees us visit our “Original Six” theme a final time… I promise, next week we’ll be going in a different direction again. Similar to last week, we’ve upped the number of teams in the league to 36 teams. We’re breaking the league down into six divisions of six teams each—one of which is made up of all of the Original Six teams.

This week we’ve changed up the map just a bit. The clustering along the east coast is a little less confusing. The non-original-six NYC-area teams have joined the lower-coast teams (Caps, Canes, and the Florida teams) in a division. Along with that change, the Pennsylvania-duo join the Sabres, Jackets, Sens and Nordiques to round out the Eastern Conference.

The West is pretty clean as is, so we’ve left it along this week. Let’s check out what we’ve got…

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 26

NHL Realignment Map - Week 26

 

The Breakdown:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Original Six Division: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York, Toronto

Bossy Division: Carolina, Florida, New Jersy, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay, Washington

Lemieux Division: Buffalo, Columbus, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Quebec

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Hull Division: Dallas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis

Gretzky Division: Calgary, Edmonton, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Winnipeg

Dionne Division: Anaheim, Colorado, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

 

Gained teams:

Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Quebec, Portland, Seattle

 

Lost teams:

none

 

The Benefits:

• Tradition — The Original Six teams gets the recognition they deserve with their own division. Major rivalries such as PIT/PHI,  LAK/SJ, EDM/CGY to name a few have been maintained in-division.

• Travel — Other than Winnipeg (sorry guys), nobody has an in-division rival more than one time-zone over.

• Rivalries —  Even though Winnipeg is kinda screwed on travel, they do get a whole heapin’ mess’o rivals to content with. The Alberta teams and Vancouver are all in-division, through in what will sure turn into an awesome rivalry in Seattle/Portland, and the Gretzky division will be amazing. Cali, Colorado and the two desert cities will be great too. Oh, but wait, there will be a great Missouri rivalry… oh and Dallas/Minnesota have history… jeez, there’s also the current Southeast Division, but now with the awesome PIT/PHI rivalry… NYI/NJ will intensify… Quebec and Ottawa will heat up too. All awesome rivalry gold — oh and hey, and we haven’t even mentioned the original six!

 

Since this week is very similar to last week, as far as structure goes, I can work out the scheduling too. Here we go…

6 games against five in-divsion opponents = 30 games

2 games against thirty non-division opponents = 60 games

Well that was easy… other than the objection that the player’s union will have with 8 extra games on the schedule, we get the benefit of every team playing in every building. The shape that guys are in these days, they can handle 8 more games… plus the extra revenue  generated will find their way into those pockets anyhow. Another plus… MORE HOCKEY. Sold.

 

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

 

Until next Sunday!

— TF

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


 

NHL Realignment Project – Week 25

NHL Realignment Project - Week 25

Oh Six (Times Six)!

This week on the NHL Realignment Project we once again fool around with the idea that the Original Six deserve their own division/conference/whatever. Unlike last week where we had to contract six teams to get to an divisble-by-six (and still be an even number) to get this to work out in a manageable way, this week we’ve gone the other way… expanded to 36 teams (math still works, see?)

So our new 36-team NHL has two conferences, each made up of 3 divisions… Original Six, Gretzky, Dionne, Hull, Lemieux and Bossy. There’s a bit of a log-jam up in the top-right of the map… but keeping PIT and PHI together and NYI and NJ together is worth the spaghetti-look that we’ve created. Extra bonus, this week for Buffalo fans, you are no longer in a division name for a Hull.

Playoffs would be pretty similar to the current setup, except I’d qualify the top two teams in each division and then have two more next-best-records wildcard teams to round out each conferences 8 playoff qualifiers.

It’s been a while since I’ve referenced it, but for those of you out there ready to argue that there is no way the NHL can go to 36 teams, first, I’d say, “this week’s scenario is admittedly farcical” and if necessary, I’d then invoke the King of North America Defense.

 

The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 25

NHL Realignment Map - Week 25

The Breakdown:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Original Six Division: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York, Toronto

Lemieux Division: Carolina, Florida, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

Bossy Division: Buffalo, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Quebec

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Hull Division: Dallas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis

Gretzky Division: Calgary, Edmonton, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Winnipeg

Dionne Division: Anaheim, Colorado, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

 

Gained teams:

Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Quebec, Portland, Seattle

 

Lost teams:

none

 

The Benefits:

• Tradition — The Original Six teams gets the recognition they deserve with their own division. Major rivalries such as PIT/PHI,  LAK/SJ, EDM/CGY to name a few have been maintained in-division.

• Travel — Other than Winnipeg (sorry guys), nobody has an in-division rival more than one time-zone over.

• Rivalries —  Even though Winnipeg is kinda screwed on travel, they do get a whole heapin’ mess’o rivals to content with. The Alberta teams and Vancouver are all in-division, through in what will sure turn into an awesome rivalry in Seattle/Portland, and the Gretzky division will be amazing. Cali, Colorado and the two desert cities will be great too. Oh, but wait, there will be a great Missouri rivalry… oh and Dallas/Minnesota have history… jeez, there’s also the current Southeast Division, but now with the awesome PIT/PHI rivalry… NYI/NJ will intensify… Quebec and Ottawa will heat up too. All awesome rivalry gold — oh and hey, and we haven’t even mentioned the original six!

 

Too tired to think through scheduling scenarios, but with this many teams, I’m thinking that we probably wouldn’t be able to see every team both home and away each season. Perhaps, but like I said to tired to think it through. Other than that… I like this little fantasy. Hope you did too.

 

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

 

Until next Sunday!

— TF

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


NHL Realignment Project – Week 7

NHL Realignment Project — Week Seven

Week 7 – Bigger is Better

Busy work week delayed this week’s entry, but here it is. This week, we go all kinds of crazy. We throw caution to the wind and make the NHL the biggest league in North American professional sports — 36 teams!

Florida’s unbelievable movement on the first day of free-agency has inspired me to remove them (for now) from being on the list of teams that gets relocated pretty much every week. In fact, the only team that got relocated this week was the Phoenix Coyotes (poor, Glendale).

NHL Realignment Map - Week 7

NHL Realignment Map - Week Seven

Gained teams:

Houston, Seattle, Portland, Quebec City, Hamilton, Kansas City, Las Vegas

Lost teams:

Phoenix

Benefits:

• We’re the biggest! — Niche sport, my ass! This NHL is bigger than the NFL… four teams bigger. People will argue about talent levels, attendance numbers, blah, blah, blah… but again refer to my King of North America Defense. This is totally a fantasy world… but oh what a fun one it’d be.

• Somewhat less travel — It’s not as buttoned-up as last week’s effort, but it’s still pretty good. Divisional games for teams in the Hull Division would always be Central Time Zone accept for when Colorado is involved. Gretzky Divisions teams never go to the Central Time Zone for divisional games, just Pacific and Mountain Time Zones. Both divisions of the Eastern Conference are entirely within the Eastern Time Zone. Much better than now (for almost everyone)… sorry, Avalanche.

• Detroit and Columbus outta the West — Same as last week… Wings and Blue Jackets finally get their  wish.

• Canadian Teams Galore — Hamilton and Quebec (re)join the NHL, bringing the number of Canadian teams up to nine.

• Better Geographic Distribution — By adding four teams to the West vs. two teams for the East, we have a little more balanced league, geographically speaking. Nice little clusters of cities start to emerge allowing for lots of outta-town road trips to see your team play. Portland/Seattle/Vancouver… Edmonton/Calgary… San Jose/Las Vegas/LA/Anaheim… Dallas/Houston… KC/St. Louis… pretty much everyone in the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada.

(h/t to oilersnation.com for the original map)

See you next week!

— TF


 

 

 

NHL Realignment Project – Week 3

NHL Realignment Project — Week Three

Week 3 – Damn, that’s Cold

Okay, I’m going a bit radical this week. This one is for all those anti-southern city folks.

NOTE: I am not one of the anti-southern city peeps. I live in Texas, after all.

So basically, with this plan, we’ve decided that the NHL hockey is a purely niche sport that has no place in the warmer climates where there isn’t a culture of hockey, or at least a cold enough winter to cultivate one. Niche sport means niche salaries, so some of the smaller market teams could survive with a slightly lower salary cap. My completely arbitrary line of demarcation (other than the fact it is used as a border for quite a few states) is the 37th parallel north. Four former champs (Stars, Hurricanes, Lightning, Ducks) get bounced, not to mention another runner-up (Kings). Damn, that’s cold. Oh well.

Sticking with the current 30-team makeup… just relocating current further north. Also sticking with Week Two’s division names.


NHL Realignment Map - Week 3

NHL Realignment Project — Week Three

Gained teams:

Quebec City, Portland, Sacramento, Kansas City, Seattle, Indiana, Salt Lake, Hamilton

Lost teams:

Dallas, Tampa Bay, Florida, Nashville, Carolina, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim

Benefits:

Honestly, not all that much. That being said, here we go:

• Easier support for/from youth leagues. — With longer winters (a.k.a. less outdoor sport competition), youth hockey leagues and grassroots interest in the sport can thrive more than in the South.

• More Canadian teams — Hamilton and Quebec City join the league bringing the home of hockey up to 9 teams.

• Interesting(?) new rivalries — Sacramento/San Jose, Portland/Seattle, Seattle/Vancouver, KC/St. Louis, Toronto/Hamilton, Quebec City/Montreal, Salt Lake/Colorado (admittedly inter-divisional)

• More balanced East/West — Decent split geographically, allowing for the Wings and Blue Jackets to be Eastern Time Zone teams in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is (at least a tiny portion) partially in the Central Time Zone… so that’s my excuse for the team in Indianapolis.

Fear not, Texas/Florida/Carolina/SoCal/Tennessee/Arizona folks… a change this drastic can never happen. There are just too many people and money south of the 37th. But don’t get too cozy, Phoenix and Miami, there’s a really good chance you’ll be losing your teams in the next 1-3 years. D’oh! (h/t to oilersnation.com for the original map)

Until next week!

— TF

NHL Realignment Project – Week 2

NHL Realignment Project — Week Two
Week 2 — Phoenix to Seattle

Welcome  back, true believers. Week two is upon us. This week we’ll look at a slightly more plausible scenario for the NHL’s 2012-2013 season. The league stays at the current 30-team count and the only team joining the Winnipeg team in relocation (now with a Jets logo on the map), is the Seattle Coyotes.

Almost everyone seems to agree that the “save” that Glendale/NHL team was able to perform this year is more of a “save with a fat rebound that will be slammed home” next year. So I’m moving ‘em. Just like Week One, the Coyotes are going to Seattle. Hamilton, Quebec, KC and Las Vegas will have to wait (for now).

The 30-team league breaks down into Eastern and Western Conferences again. Each conference has two divisions. I tried labeling the divisions geographically at first, but it didn’t seem right to have Detroit and Columbus in a “Southeast” Division, so I went with (arguably) the biggest names to play for a team in the new divisions… Gretzky, Hull, Orr and Howe. I’ll let sons and fathers argue over which Hull we’re talking about. :)

Seeing how 30 isn’t divisible by 4, and how my number one goal for this realignment was to get all Eastern Time Zone teams into the Eastern Conference I’ve gone with an unbalanced lineup. The two Eastern Divisions each have 8 teams, while the two Western Divisions each have 7 teams. Anyone who doesn’t like this, please refer to my King of North America Defense again.

So after that long intro, here are the goods:

Gained teams:

Seattle

Lost teams:

Phoenix

Benefits:

• Time Zone Harmony — Much to the delight of TV-watching fans, Time Zone insanity has been nearly eliminated. Only three teams have to leave their time zone for divisional road games… and exactly zero teams have to travel more than one time zone away for those same games (again, Dallas and Minnesota, you’re welcome).

• Fairer travel — Extension of the first benefit. Like last week’s plan, this mitigates some of the unfair travel strain placed on teams with the current league lineup. Sure, Western teams will still have to travel more often than their Eastern brothers, but geography and population clusters make a pure balance pretty much impossible. This is better than the current plan.

• New rivalries — Seattle becomes a natural rival for Vancouver. Detroit, Philly and Pittsburgh bring some gravitas to a reasonably young set of teams in the Howe Division… not to mention Penguins developing a thirst for proving to the Wings that Lemieux was snubbed in the division naming process. Dallas and Minnesota get to play more often and hash out their “you stole our team/suck it, we’re better” feud. Throw in a new Jets/Blues/Stars “they mean OUR Hull” rivalry and we’ve got some good stuff.

 

NHL Realignment Map - Week 2

NHL Realignment Project — Week Two

And there you have it. Off to bed (and to ponder next week’s realignment).

— Tom Fulery

 

NHL Realignment Project – Week 1

NHL Realignment Project — Week One

Week 1 – Moving and Shaking (and Expanding)

What timing… the day I launch my first of 52 (or more) weekly NHL realignment options, the NHL made it official (pending BOG approval), the sale and move of the Thrashers franchise to Winnipeg, so no need to include Winnipeg/Atlanta in my potential gained/lost descriptions. Serendipity, baby.

Anywhoo. Here’s my first realignment, and accompanying maps (special thanks to oilersnation.com for the map). Too nulify any “that can’t happen” arguments, please refer to my “King of North America” defense.

In Week One, we look an NHL that has expanded to 32 teams. Westward ho! Three new teams west of the Mighty Mississippi help provide a bit more balance to the geographical layout of the NHL. That coupled with Winnipeg now being in the Western Conference, means that 15 of the 16 teams in the Eastern Conference are in the Eastern Time Zone (newly transferred Nashville is the exception). I chose to leave Detroit in the West to help maintain some bitter rivalries with Chicago and Colorado (and to a lesser extent Dallas, Minnesota and St. Louis). This will undoubtedly not be the case in some of my subsequent realignments in the coming weeks.

Gained teams:

Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City

Lost teams:

Florida, Phoenix

Benefits:

• Hitting the magic number of 32 franchises — It becomes easier to divide the teams up into four or eight divisions.

• Fairer travel — This mitigates some of the unfair travel strain placed on teams with the current league lineup. Sure, Western teams will still have to travel more often than their Eastern brothers, but geography and demographics make a pure balance pretty much impossible. This plan’s focus on adding teams mostly out west, makes things a little better for some long-frustrated franchises (I’m looking at you Minnesota and Dallas).

• More rivalries — Kansas City comes onboard to piss off St. Louis Blues fans. Seattle takes up the Phoenix franchise and becomes a natural rival for Vancouver. Same thing for Quebec City and Montreal.

 

NHL Realignment Map 1a

NHL Realignment Project — Week One (Map A)

Eastern and Western Conferences—each with 4 Divisions

or

NHL Realignment Map 1b

NHL Realignment Project — Week One (Map B)

Eastern and Western Conferences—each with 2 Divisions

 

And we’re off to a fun start. See you next week!

— Tom Fulery