The NHL was ready to approve a realignment plan last year, then it was scraped by the NHLPA, but with the new CBA in place it looks like a new blueprint is all but completed.
Here's the new proposed conferences...
Obviously, the big moves are Detroit and Columbus being relocated to the Eastern "side" with Winnipeg being put in their rightful place in the West.
Under this format the East would have two more teams than the West.
...i'm a big fan of the new conferences. Makes a lot of sense geographically. Really like the Red Wings in Conference 2. Their conference now has four Original Six teams, which can only be good for the game.
...i said this last year, but I absolutely love the Capitals back in the Rangers conference. They were such a huge rival when I was a kid. Always hated guys like Hatcher and Langway. Will be great to see Dubi and Anisimov more often also.
Here's a great look at the geography of the changes via SB Nation...
Here's how scheduling will breakdown...
East teams would home-away vs 14 West teams (28), 3x each vs out of division but in conference opponents (24) and 30 games within division.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 26, 2013
West team plays 16 East teams home/away for 32. West plays other out of division but in conference 3x per team (21). 29 GP within division.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 26, 2013
As far as the playoffs go, the top three teams in each conference qualify, then two "Wild Card" teams will advance as well for eight teams on each side. Bob McKenzie at TSN breaks it down how Wild Cards will be seeded...
- Wild card team with fewest points gets seeded 4th vs division winner with highest points.
- Wild card team with most points would be 4th seed in division vs the second-ranked division winner. 2 vs 3 within division is constant.
...can't really imagine how teams or fans can complain about this setup. I guess the unbalance in conference teams, but to me it's not a big deal. This realignment addresses a lot of the current problems in the league and I'm hopeful the NHL and NHLPA approve it.
I like these divisions.
how happy are you if you are columbus or detroit? They're gonna save a pantload in travel expenses alone. And poor nashville loses Detroit and Winnipeg and now has to travel to Winnipeg.
I like the 2 wild card deal, if ur in a stong conference you could conceivably finish 5th and still get in. fair.
Eventual expansion isn't a good enough reason for me. While it will almost certainly happen, there's no guarantee until when. Why not wait until then to blow everything up? Why do this twice? Make a couple of shifts so that Winnipeg isn't shafted nearly every game and then re-visit realignment when the league actually expands -- and if/when the Phoenix debacle ever gets settled.
Teams play for the playoffs, period. I (would) think that every single team would rather have more travel during the regular season and a fair playoff format than less travel during the regular season and have less of a chance of making the playoffs.
Dislike the playoff format, why cant they just do top 4 from each conference, and winner of each conference goes 1st and 2nd respectively. Then, the next 6 go in point order, that way the playoff format is the same as it has always been.
I don't understand the two FL teams being in a Northern division either- is there an explanation for that?
I'm not a big fan of the playoff format. Playing divisional playoffs except sometimes having a team from another division in your divisional playoffs makes no sense. May as well just do a conference playoff kind of like the current format, top 8 teams make it, division winners are the 1 and 2 seeds.
This format will create stupid, potentially confusing match-ups, where the Rangers could finish first in the division and conference, and potentially play Florida in the first round if Florida finishes 4th in the other division and one point behind the Islanders let's say. For all intents and purposes, the Islanders aren't better than Florida since they were within a point of each other, but the playoff format calls for the better 1 seed to play the 4 seed with fewer points, so the Rangers opening "divisional" playoff series is against the Panthers instead of the Islanders. In a scenario like that, I'd much rather see Rangers-Islanders even if the Islanders were technically one point "better" than Florida.
At the very least, they should keep it divisional if the wild cards are the 4 seed from each division, and only if one division has 5 teams in should they switch the match-ups, with the higher 1 seed playing the 5 seed. Otherwise, the divisional aspect of the playoffs does nothing but keep the 2 best teams in the conference from playing each other in the conference finals if they happen to be in the same division, since they won't be genuine divisional playoffs like they used to be.
hate it... tampa and florida with the wrong division, and uneven number of teams in conferences will suck... back to the drawing board guys...
The only complaint I have is that it is technically easier to make the playoffs in the west. Since 8 of 14 make it as opposed to 8 out of 16 in the East.
Yes 5 of 6 original six in the same conference but what's Chicago? Oh just the team that's destroying everyone right now so let's put them in an even weaker division. Blackhawk fans hate this setup and I don't blame them.
That said, from a Rangers fan perspective I don't mind the new divisions I just hate the playoff setup. The new setup not only guarantees you will never see a Rangers-Devils east final again but it's also almost a guarantee that you will see something like NYR-Devils/Pitt-Philly in the first round, winners of that in the second round and then the winner of that versus Tampa. How exactly are they promoting that third round after the first two? (And how exactly does anyone in our division have a prayer at the Cup if no matter what they have to play each other to get there?) Change the playoff format and I'm on board. Otherwise, yep I'm going to complain ;-)
The unfair part is East teams will have more difficult time qualifying for post season with 2 extra teams in conference- one of which - the Wings - always make e post season!
@TheNYRBlog If there has been anything more useless than the Southeast division in the NHL I'd like to know.
I'm gonna have to see it in action. Taking Detroit out of the west makes perfect sense but it sure makes the west look weak.
While it may not be fair in some instances, I think nick_i hits the nail on the head about it being good for the league. It's no mystery that ratings for the NHL have gotten so bad it's taken a back seat to poker, so increasing Original Six in the East plus reorganizing geographical rivals can only make sense.
Plus a shake up is always good for increased exposure for the NHL.
That southeast division was a disaster for ratings in my opinion. Lots of Northeast transfers in those markets who will now get to see more of the tradition market teams in their area.
Plan is never going to be perfect.
@nhl @TheNYRBlog can they name them Price of Wales and Clarence Campbell conferences ? With Norris Patrick div etc?
I think it would be a lot easier to move Winnipeg into the Northwest, Minnesota into the central, and Nashville into the Southeast. Atlantic, Northeast, and Pacific stay the same. You're not blowing up the entire thing this way and most of the divisions stay in tact.
I like it. And we need to keep in mind this is being done with future league expansion in mind. While it not only makes sense logistically for the league (more 7pm games for teams in the central and west, also means higher tv ratings) it creates the opportunity for huge jumps in revenue. 5 of the original 6 teams in the same conference is a huge marketing tool, especially for the rekindling of old rivalries amongst the original 6. I think this is great for the league.
To me the 7 vs 8 team split makes a huge difference. 3 out of 7 (43%) will make it in each west division vs 3 out of 8 (37.5%) in each east division. That is a pretty huge imbalance for something as critical as "chance to make playoffs" each year.
I don't know, if 3 teams from each conference make the playoffs, I feel like Division 1 will be the toughest to qualify in. Granted the wild card should make up for that, but its not guaranteed. Still feels like some teams will have an easier time than others.
Couldn't they just swap Winnipeg and Columbus and leave everything else as-is? Still not sure why the NHL insists on using "If its not broke fix it until it is" as their mantra...
How can you be a fan of a system that has uneven numbers in the conferences? No "wild card" system is going to be able to make up for that. Swap Winnipeg with a team closer to the east (Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis or Nashville), juggle the divisions slightly if necessary and be done with it. This proposal is complete crap. Go figure the NHL brass sucks at math...
@TheNYRBlog Im sorry but no, 30 not divisible by 4. Youd think lawyers could do 4th grade math. Still need six divisions IMO
@queensbee yea but look at it, the teams with less travel have a better chance of making the playoffs. And now the teams with the same amount, or a little less have a worse chance at making the playoffs, for the most part...
I agree the playoff format is less than ideal. There has to be another option they can explore.
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) Great points with playoff issues. Would hate to see Rangers and division rivals not able to meet in ECF.
@kicker75 John Druce destroyed my childhood.
@DundalkMurtagh Agreed. That needed to be blown up big time. Lots of NE transfers down there who will love new conferences.
@KevinDeLury I'm skeptical that putting Toronto with Tampa Bay is going to drive up any ratings. The ratings problem has to do with the TV rights w/ NBC Sports/Versus which results in ESPN basically shunning the NHL like a whore's bastard. When they renegotiate that, they'll gain the ratings traction they need.
A Boston vs Montreal game is going to draw the same ratings it always did in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, regardless of the divisons. And realignment is a big deal, doing it to "shake things up" seems a little casual for me, especially given the disparity it creates re: qualifying for the playoffs.
Toss in the fact that you'll play some teams in your division more than others each year and I just really dislike the entire plan.
@Scott_from_Jersey -- maybe the flipside of that is that the western teams (conferences 3 and 4, have more travel to do ... i dunno .....
@johnnyb3910 Detroit wanted to move east. If Columbus got to move but they didn't, Detroit would've thrown a tantrum
@johnnyb3910 It's always cyclical. Teams that are good now, might not be in a few years.
@chrisD We wouldn't have to worry about the Wings till the ECF (or whatever the third round would be called). The current northeast division can complain about that lol.
@TheNYRBlog I would move Tampa from Conference 2 to 3 myself, time zone and travel considerations. I think it would even out better.
@chrisD 5 teams...our entire conference minus Columbus are as good as those teams. I'm just saying there's a lot more competition on our side.
I understand your points but I disagree. I don't believe the ratings problem is network related at all, and NBC has TV rights to the NHL until 2021 so nothing is changing on that front anytime soon.
As for your point about ratings for a Boston vs Montreal game in other states, or a national audience so to speak, isn't really the main point the NHL is going after here in regards to a realignment. The main purpose is to bolster ratings in regional markets in an effort to secure big local TV contracts (think NESN, MSG, etc.)
The NHL always needed to realign, and it was really expeditied because of the Thrashers move up to Winnipeg that created a whole bunch of problems. Not to mention the constant complaints of teams like Columbus who have been asking to move to the East for a long time.
@Scott_from_Jersey All those concerns are fair.