Saturday, January 12, 2013

Easy Realignment

I know we're not getting it this season because of the lockout but NHL realignment has to happen soon, right? A lot has been written about it online ever since the Thrashers uprooted and moved to Winnipeg last year and the NHL even proposed a 4-division realignment, akin to how the league was set up in the old days.

I honestly think that seven- and eight- team divisions are unwieldy. I like the current six-division format and it takes very little swapping of teams to keep it in tact. Watch this:
•move the Canucks out of the Northwest and into the Pacific (Vancouver is right there on the Pacific Ocean after all)
•move the Stars out of the Pacific and into the Central (Dallas is nowhere near the Pacific and their presence in the that division stretches it across 3 time zones)
•move the Predators from the Central and into the Southeast
•move the Jets out of the Southeast and into the Northwest

All of a sudden the league looks like this:
Western Conference
Pacific Division
Los Angeles Kings
Anaheim Ducks
Phoenix Coyotes
San Jose Sharks
Vancouver Canucks

Northwest Division
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers
Minnesota Wild
Winnipeg Jets

Central Division
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins

Northeast Division
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs

Southeast Division
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
Nashville Predators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals

That is about as perfect as this 30-team combination can be! Nobody is punished by having ridiculously far-away division rivals. No division stretches across more than two time zones.

And if you want to add teams in Quebec City, Seattle, Hamilton, and Kansas City as if frequently posited, those cities are all easily added so that you'd have a league with 4 6-team divisions and 2 5-team divisions (unbalanced division sizes work for baseball). Put Seattle in the Pacific, Kanasas City in the Central, Quebec City and Hamilton in the Northeast (in which case, Boston moves to the Atlantic where they have plenty of natural rivals).

The only problem I can see is that this is far too sensible to actually happen.

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