n Monday, the NHL Board of Governors met and approved this new realignment plan, getting rid of the 6 divisions and moving to a 4-conference alignment. The realignment plan could be implemented as early as next year for the 2012-13 season.
|San Jose||St. Louis||Toronto||Washington|
Entering the meeting on Monday, the Board had two different plans they were considering after Atlantaâ€™s move to Winnipeg last summer. The first plan involved moving the Jets to the Central division and either Detroit or Columbus to the Southeast division. The second plan was what the league ended up using, creating four geographic conferences.
As shown above, Conference â€œAâ€ and â€œBâ€ both have 8 teams while Conference â€œCâ€ and â€œDâ€ has 7 teams each. The Board did not decide on names for the conferences yet, creating a buzz on the Internet about what to name the conferences.
Personally, I think it would be cool to name the conferences after famous players, like what they did before the 6 divisions (conferences were named Smythe, Norris, Adams, and Patrick). Â My four choices would be after my four favorite players of all time; Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, and Joe Sakic. Ridiculous I know, but you can find even worse conference names online.
The new realignment plan actually is pretty easy to understand. Teams will play home-and-home series against all nonconference teams and five or six games in their conference. The top 4 teams in each conference will make the playoffs, with the first two rounds consisting of solely interconference matchups.
They did not decide about the third round of the playoffs, and itâ€™s still pending whether they will reseed the teams or have pre-determined matchups. Reactions from players and coaches indicate they prefer reseeding, and I also think that would be a fair compromise to settle that issue.
When looking at this new realignment, there are many good things that will come out of it. The fear of many teams was they were going to lose historic rivals in their conference now, but their worries were allayed as the new conference not only maintains these rivalries, but also opens the door for many new ones (Florida/Tampa Bay, Minnesota/Chicago, and Pittsburgh/Washington).
The Western teams also benefit highly from the realignment, as theyâ€™ll have to travel less and can play primarily other teams in their same time zone. Teams like Dallas, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver can stay in their specific time zones for conference matchups.
Of course, with any dramatic change to a professional league, there are going to be people unhappy with the switch. Some people claim that the Western conferences have it much harder then the teams on the East Coast since they both have one more team in their conference.
The Eastern teams were also contempt wit their current divisions, and enjoyed the limited travel. Now the realignment calls for a bit more movement on their end.
With the status of the Phoenix Coyotes uncertain, and the possibility the team can up and move at any time I think the Board did a great job of sorting that issue out. If Phoenix moves somewhere to the East, the dilemma is solved and the Coyotes join an Eastern conference and itâ€™s as if nothing has changed.
I think what people need to understand is that everyone in the NHL is a real winner here. Team front offices put the league ahead of their individual teams, and decided what was best for everyone. They may not be fully satisfied with realignment, but they realized this is a good plan for the league as a whole.
Get excited hockey fans, get real excited.