NHL realignment – An alternative plan! – Part 3

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January 17, 2013 by ussportsfanuk

This is the final part of my NHL realignment plan. Parts 1 and 2 covered the proposed alignment of the divisions and the conferences, including going back to using the old names used by the NHL for each of these. This part will recap the proposed divisions and will consider how the schedule would work in this realignment plan, giving an example from each division of who a team in that division would play each season.

In the NHL plan from last year, all teams would play the others in their division 5 or 6 times and would then play the remaining teams from the other divisions twice, once home and once away. Due to the bigger distance between teams in the proposed Campbell Conference this schedule format would remain, meaning teams should face less travel as they would play nearly half their games within their division.

Smythe Division: Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes.

Eight team division.
Each team will play 38 divisional games – 5 games against 4 teams, 6 games against 3 teams.
Each team will play 14 conference games (against the Norris Division) – 2 games against 7 teams.
Each team will play 30 inter-conference games (against the Wales Conference) – 2 games against 15 teams.
Total – 82 games.

Vancouver Canucks – opponents list
Divisional games (38) – 6 vs Oilers, 6 vs Flames, 6 vs Avalanche, 5 vs Sharks, 5 vs Kings, 5 vs Ducks, 5 vs Coyotes.
Conference games (14) – 2 vs Red Wings, 2 vs Blackhawks, 2 vs Maple Leafs, 2 vs Jets, 2 vs Wild, 2 vs Blues, 2 vs Stars.
Inter-conference games (30) – 2 vs Bruins, 2 vs Canadiens, 2 vs Senators, 2 vs Sabres, 2 vs Rangers, 2 vs Islanders, 2 vs Devils, 2 vs Penguins, 2 vs Flyers, 2 vs Capitals, 2 vs Blue Jackets, 2 vs Predators, 2 vs Hurricanes, 2 vs Panthers, 2 vs Lightning.

Norris Division: Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars.

Seven team division.
Each team will play 36 divisional games – 6 games against 6 teams.
Each team will play 16 conference games (against the Smythe Division) – 2 games against 8 teams.
Each team will play 30 inter-conference games (against the Wales Conference) – 2 games against 15 teams.
Total – 82 games.

Detroit Red Wings – opponents list
Divisional games (36) – 6 vs Blackhawks, 6 vs Maple Leafs, 6 vs Wild, 6 vs Jets, 6 vs Blues, 6 vs Stars.
Conference games (16) – 2 vs Canucks, 2 vs Oilers, 2 vs Flames, 2 vs Avalanche, 2 vs Sharks, 2 vs Kings, 2 vs Ducks, 2 vs Coyotes.
Inter-conference games (30) – 2 vs Bruins, 2 vs Canadiens, 2 vs Senators, 2 vs Sabres, 2 vs Rangers, 2 vs Islanders, 2 vs Devils, 2 vs Penguins, 2 vs Flyers, 2 vs Capitals, 2 vs Blue Jackets, 2 vs Predators, 2 vs Hurricanes, 2 vs Panthers, 2 vs Lightning.

As mentioned in part 2 of this plan, the Wales Conference would have a different schedule format from the Campbell Conference. This basically includes more conference games. This allows more match ups between established rivals but, more importantly, attempts to help even out the travelling distance for teams across the two conferences due to the teams in the Wales Conference being closer together.

Adams Division: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils.

Seven team division.
Each team will play 28 divisional games – 4 games against 2 teams, 5 games against 4 teams.
Each team will play 24 conference games (against the Patrick Division) – 3 games against 8 teams.
Each team will play 30 inter-conference games (against the Campbell Conference) – 2 games against 15 teams.
Total – 82 games.

Boston Bruins – opponents list
Divisional games (28) – 5 vs Canadiens, 5 vs Sabres, 5 vs Rangers, 5 vs Islanders, 4 vs Senators, 4 vs Devils.
Conference Games (24) – 3 vs Penguins, 3 vs Flyers, 3 vs Blue Jackets, 3 vs Predators, 3 vs Capitals, 3 vs Hurricanes, 3 vs Lightning, 3 vs Panthers.
Inter-conference games (30) – 2 vs Canucks, 2 vs Oilers, 2 vs Flames, 2 vs Avalanche, 2 vs Sharks, 2 vs Kings, 2 vs Ducks, 2 vs Coyotes, 2 vs Red Wings, 2 vs Blackhawks, 2 vs Maple Leafs, 2 vs Wild, 2 vs Jets, 2 vs Blues, 2 vs Stars.

Patrick Division: Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers.

Eight team division.
Each team will play 31 divisional games – 4 games against 4 teams, 5 games against 3 teams.
Each team will play 21 conference games (against the Adams Division) – 3 games against 7 teams.
Each team will play 30 inter-conference games (against the Campbell Conference) – 2 games against 15 teams.
Total – 82 games.

Carolina Hurricanes – opponents list
Divisional games (31) – 5 vs Capitals, 5 vs Panthers, 5 vs Predators, 4 vs Penguins, 4 vs Flyers, 4 vs Lightning, 4 vs Blue Jackets.
Conference games (21) – 3 vs Bruins, 3 vs Canadiens, 3 vs Senators, 3 vs Sabres, 3 vs Rangers, 3 vs Islanders, 3 vs Devils.
Inter-conference games (30) – 2 vs Canucks, 2 vs Oilers, 2 vs Flames, 2 vs Avalanche, 2 vs Sharks, 2 vs Kings, 2 vs Ducks, 2 vs Coyotes, 2 vs Red Wings, 2 vs Blackhawks, 2 vs Maple Leafs, 2 vs Wild, 2 vs Jets, 2 vs Blues, 2 vs Stars.

So that is the regular season schedule for this realignment plan. This scheduling allows for all teams to face each other home and away as well as there being more than two games between established rivals in the Wales Conference. The scheduling, along with the division alignment, has also meant that the Original Six should be able to continue strong rivalries, with the Rangers for example playing 16 games against the other Original Six teams as oppose to 10 in the proposed NHL realignment plan.

As far as the playoffs would go, the format would stay the same as that proposed in the NHL realignment plan. The top 4 in each division advance to the playoffs, where they are seeded and compete until one team advances to the Conference Championship games, the same as it used to be when these division and conference names were used before. Although this does mean that a team with a better record may miss out on the playoffs it seems to be the only way that travelling could be kept low for those competing in the Campbell Conference.

That is the end of my alternative realignment plan. Lots of thought has gone into this and it took a long time to settle on an idea I was happy with. I think it has made me realise that there may not be an ideal situation whichever way it is worked out and that, ultimately, some compromises will have to be made by the teams.

I hope it has all made sense and that you have enjoyed reading my idea, even if it may have been quite a long read! I would be really interested to hear what people think to the plan so please feel free to leave a comment. I think that hearing the ideas and concerns from the fans, as well as the teams, really would be the best way for the NHL to find the best fit when the league is realigned!

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6 thoughts on “NHL realignment – An alternative plan! – Part 3

  1. James Harvey of Toonzone says:

    Nobody cares about Columbus and Nashville (who are Central Time Zone anywhere so they are definately not leapfrogging Columbus and Detroit) because they are not draws like Detroit is! A Detroit Red Wings game in less supportive markets like Carolina or Tampa Bay would sell out easily. Columbus or Nashville? I don’t think so! What it all boils down to is politics. The same type of politics that has allowed the Dallas Cowboys to stay in the NFC East despite being west of the Vikings and Rams! Unfortunately for the west teams, the east teams (and Detroit) has the advantage in politics. So its either Detroit swaps with Winnipeg or the Players Association changes their mind on the realignment proposal from last year. Deal with it!

    • Thanks for reading the post and your comment. This was just an idea. I certainly take the point about the Red Wings but if they were to move then teams like the Stars and Blackhawks miss out on those games. That would then be games they have lost, Carolina and Tampa Bay never had those games in the first place. I know what you mean about the Predators as well but I think they may actually be closer geographically to a number of Eastern Time Zone teams than they are Central. As I said at the end of my post, there probably isn’t an ideal situation but it seems like the Western teams would really try to hang on to the Red Wings.

      • James Harvey of Toonzone says:

        Toronto, Montreal, Boston, the Rangers. Meanwhile, you have Chicago and Los Angeles as the most influential out west. Once again I stand by this criteria:

        Eastern Conference Teams equals the Dallas Cowboys

        Western Conference teams equals the St. Louis Rams

        If the west wants Detroit badly, then they better get the Players Association to change their stance on the proposal from last year.

      • James Harvey of Toonzone says:

        I also would like to add that if Phoenix moves to Quebec City then they would leapfrog Detroit regardless of politics as location plays a big role too. Just ask the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals when they leapfrogged over Atlanta and Cincinnati in 1969 after the Chicago Cubs used their political influence to force two Eastern Time Zone teams into the NL West in order to make room for them and their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

        If the league stays with six divisions, then the west teams have to hope Phoenix moves to Quebec in order to keep Detroit.

        I’ve got a lot to say about your proposal, but for now I’ll just say I’m all in favor of the proposal that the Players Association turned down last year. Getting the double round robin against everybody back is especially important. It just amazes me that the NBA schedule makers manage to keep the double round robin when they went to six divisions in 2004, yet the retarded schedule makers in the NHL couldn’t when they went to six divisions in 1998. This is yet another reason why the NBA will always be more popular than the NHL in the United States.

      • Thanks again for your comments, I’m glad my post has generated some discussion. I agree with what you said about it being important in the NHL plan that every team plays every other team home-and-home, which is why I also included it in my plan. With regards to the Detroit Red Wings, looking at the NHL plan and mine, there is very little difference for them. In the NHL plan, I think they would play 57 or 58 games a season in the Eastern Time Zone, in my plan it would be a guaranteed 58. Although they would be in their own conference in the NHL plan and I have their proposed division in with the Western teams, it is in name only in reality as their game schedule in different time zones would be almost identical in both plans. In my plan they also have the benefit of having the Toronto Maple Leafs back in their division which would reignite this old rivalry and generate 6 big matches per regular season between the two. This I would think is beneficial to them as these would surely be bigger games for them than playing the Columbus Blue Jackets. The playoff format for my plan is also the same as the NHL plan.

        I agree that their there are more big market teams in the East and that they undoubtedly have a big say in the NHL, but I would think the NHL would also be keen to keep the Red Wings in the West (Campbell Conference) to help with the smaller market teams there.

  2. JulieTorrentino says:

    Taken from your post on Prohockeytalk:

    “Well they would only play a maximum of 4 games west of the Central time zone in the playoff format I suggested, surely the Red Wings can ope with a maximum 4 games? Also, if they got to the Stanley Cup Final then they would play and Eastern Conference team so no time issues there.”

    As hard is it to believe for you, if you were Gary Bettman, you can come up with all the excuses for the Red Wings to play games late at night, and the Red Wings with their political influence will still say NO!

    As that power corrupt Toonzone mod (believe me I’ve been to that sorry excuse of a website) puts it:

    Eastern Conference Teams equals the Dallas Cowboys

    Western Conference teams equals the St. Louis Rams

    Detroit has the full fledge support of the Toronto’s and New York’s. The Chicago Blackhawks have the support of places like Nashville (who wants the rivalries with the other Central Time Zone teams anyway) and Colorado. So you know that Detroit’s gonna get what they want no matter what.

    Also, let’s keep an eye on the Coyotes. NOBODY has yet to come forward wanting to lose millions of dollars in the suburban wasteland known as Glendale every year. And if I were a betting man, they probably have at least another 2 months at best to find investors willing to lose millions in the middle of nowhere every year before the League decides to pull the plug on Arizona for good possibly. It will be very interesting to see what happens if the proposed 14 in the West, 16 in the East alignment gets approved and the Coyotes moved to Quebec City. Even with Quebec’s location, I think they will have a near impossible time trying to out politic the LEAST influential Eastern Time Zone teams (Columbus, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Buffalo), let alone the most powerful ones. My guess, Quebec City is forced to play in the division with the Central Time Zone teams while Colorado goes back to the Pacific division. The next two months shall be interesting!

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