Realignment in 2012 appears inevitable. And the NHL has some ideas on how it will unfold.
The Winnipeg Jets (hooray!) will not still be in the Southeast Division, of course.
The Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nashville Predators are lobbying to move East.
"So to accommodate all of this — and to not have to disappoint one team while accommodating another — massive realignment has been proposed by the NHL that would reduce the NHL to four divisions: Two with eight teams, two with seven teams. (Can't wait for the inevitable expansion to balance it out!)
The realignment would be time-zone and geographically-based. So if you have a 14-team Eastern Conference (minus Winnipeg) and you add Detroit … well, that would leave Eastern Time Zone Columbus very well screwed. From the Globe & Mail, a solution:
The Blue Jackets are pushing the proposal for a 16-team conference and a 14-team conference in hopes of moving east. They are in the Eastern time zone and do not like playing many of their road games in different time zones because their games have to be shown at late hours on television.
Okay, stop the madness.
Sane proposal after the jump.
Unbalanced conferences (16 vs. 14) and unbalanced divisions (some w/ 7 and some w/ 8) are inherently unfair.
I know it sets the table for expansion, but I like that even less than unfair competition.
Time zones (ie, travel costs) are not the most important factor; rivalries are.
More divisions create more rivalries. The current # of divisions: 6, is therefore superior to Bettman's proposed 4.
More divisions create more opportunities for teams to stay in playoff races longer.
More teams in playoff races longer creates more fan interest.
Remember us, the fans?
We don't really care much about travel costs, to be frank. Not w/ billionaire owners, we don't.
Winnipeg does need to move West though--to develop rivalries; not save on gas costs.
And its not like the former Atlanta Thrashers developed any rivalries, so zero loss there.
Northeast - TOR, OTT, BUF, MON, and BOS - no change
Atlantic - PHI, PIT, NJ, NYI, and NYR - no change
Southeast - TB, FLA, CAR, WAS, and NAS - add Nashville, move Winnipeg (win-win)
Northwest - VAN, CGY, EDM, WIN, COL - add Winnipeg, move Minnesota (win-win)
Central - CHI, DET, STL, DAL, MIN - add Dallas and Minnesota, move Nashville and Columbus (win-win squared)
Pacific - SJ, LA, ANA, PHX, SEA - expand Seattle, contract Columbus (win-win)
Its not working in Columbus. A sulky Jeff Carter isn't going to change that. Seattle is a much more viable market.
And maybe a new team in Seattle will satisfy Bettman's "expansion" urge.
Winnipeg is a perfect fit for the Northwest, joining 3 other teams from Western Canada.
Nashville would fit in well in the Southeast, esp. with Washington and Carolina.
Minnesota and Dallas, in addition to being geographically "right," are natural rivals.