December 30, 2012 by ussportsfanuk
One of the things discussed before the NHL stopped play to argue with the NHLPA, was realigning the current divisions. One good thing that may have come out of the CBA dispute was that re-alignment was not finalised and was put on hold. The reason it is a good thing is that the new division and schedule format could have been better organised.
To begin with, the NHL had decided on four individual conferences with the idea of cutting down on team travel whilst playing every other team in the league. The following is an alternative plan taking into account the ideas that NHL were trying to bring in. It would be better to stick with two conferences, each containing two divisions and name them the Campbell Conference and Wales Conference, as they were in the past. It would also be good to go back to naming the divisions the Adams Division, Patrick Division, Norris Division and Smythe Division, as they used to be. These simple moves of going back to the old names gives a much more traditional feel to the League again and would surely please the fans, especially after having to put up with the lockout!
So which teams would be in which division? In this part we will look at the teams in the Smythe Division and Norris Division, both of which would be in the Campbell Conference.
Smythe Division: Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes.
This is the one division the same as in the NHL realignment plan. It keeps some existing rivalries from the current Pacific and Northwest Divisions, but should allow more to build over time (the Canucks and Sharks have had some good battles in recent times). In this eight team division the teams would play each other five times with a sixth game against three of the teams. This would give 38 Divisional games. In this format it would make sense for the Sharks, Kings, Duck and Coyotes to play a sixth game and the same for the Canucks, Oilers, Flames and Avalanche.
Norris Division: Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars.
Now this lineup looks like the Norris Division of old. The Maple Leafs have been moved as they were long time members of this division and as a result they had big rivalries especially with the Red Wings, which could be reignited. Also, it would be good to have three Original Six teams in each Conference as well as giving the Jets a Canadian rival in their division. This division could produce some great new rivalries also, mainly based around the Wild. They would have a geographical rivalry with the Jets, a ‘Northstars’ rivalry with the Stars, as well as starting rivalries up with the Blackhawks and Red Wings. This new division could also help out the Stars, who have been one of the struggling teams, as they would now have big divisional games against three of the Original Six. In this seven team division, the teams would play each other six times. This would give 36 Divisional games.
So that concludes Part 1 of the alternative realignment plan. In part 2 we will look at the Adams Division and Patrick Division in the Wales Conference, including of course where the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets have ended up. Part 3 will summarise the regular season and playoff schedules, possibly including more non-division games than the NHL plan.
It would be interesting to hear any comments regarding the first part of this plan and hopefully you will read parts 2 and 3!