Re-aligning the NHL: Part 1

Articles | By on Dec 4th, 2007

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Since I haven’t updated my blog for awhile, mainly due to the fact that I have nothing to talk about that anyone would be interested in, I think that I’ll talk about one of the things that has been taking up most of my time…hockey.

Recently, the NHL took a much-needed step when they finally fixed the damn schedule. Under the current schedule, a team sees a division rival eight times a year. Next year a team will see each opponent in their division only six times. The NHL execs felt that they needed to create rivalries between teams in the NHL. I guess that current rivalries like Colorado/Detroit, Toronto/Montreal and Rangers/Devils just aren’t good enough anymore. Personally, I feel that the current schedule denies fans the opportunity to see other teams that they don’t get to see often enough and that you just get sick of seeing the same team three times in a week, which seems to occur and awful lot.

Since the NHL finally opened their eyes to one of their problems, I’m going to take this opportunity to step in as a commissioner that has full power over all operations pertaining to the realignment of all current teams. If I had the choice, and this would make things a lot easier, I would expand the league with a new team in Winnipeg and Hartford, but that’s another story.

First of all, the NHL needs to get rid of the Eastern and Western Conference titles and call them something else entirely much like the days of the Prince of Whales and Campbell Conferences. For the time being, we’ll call what used to be the West the Gretzky Conference and what used to be the East the Lemieux Conference, just for a little bit of modern touch.

Now if you look at what the NHL currently has going, for whatever reason teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators are in the Western Conference. They’re not even west of the Mississippi. You also have the Penguins in the Atlantic Divisions…the last time I checked, the Atlantic Ocean was a good five to six hours away from Pittsburgh, you have the Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division (WTF?) and, according to the NHL, Minnesota is in the northwest and Washington D.C. is considered the southeast. I can see Minnesota but D.C. in the south…I don’t get it.

Anyway, let us take a lot at the first newly created Conference…the Lemieux Conference. Homer Alert: I like the sound of that.

East
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils
Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadiens

Northeast
Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers
Washington Capitals
Ottawa Senators
Buffalo Sabres

Southeast
Carolina Hurricanes
Nashville Predators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Florida Panthers
Atlanta Thrashers

So, let’s talk about some of the changes that were made. First of all, you may notice that we pulled a switcheroo here and replaced the Toronto Maple Leafs with the Nashville Predators. Blasphemy for sure, right? No more Leafs/Canadiens rivalry? Toronto was just the odd city out and I felt that Nashville would fit better in this Conference and was a logical addition to the Southeast Division in place of the Capitals. I also became fond of the new division that the Leafs will play in and the rivalries that could come from going against two other Original Six teams.

Another logical fit would seem to be the Boston Bruins in what used to be the Atlantic Division now known simply as the East. The Bruins still get to play the Canadiens but now they get to play the New York teams on a consistent basis. Not only could Boston and New York have the baseball rivalry going on, but they could rekindle the hockey one as well because let’s face it…the Jets/Patriots rivalry is a joke. I could also see a Devils/Canadiens rivalry growing stronger.

Being a Penguins fan, I took personal interest in the new Northeast Division. I wanted to place some of the Penguins more recent rivalries back in the division. Obviously, the Pens have history with the Flyers and the Capitals but one of their most recent rivalries is with the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres are a similar style team to the Pens and their games against each other are always fast paced and fun to watch. Also, getting the chance to see Crosby and Ovechkin face off six times a year would most definitely be an added bonus.

The Southeast Division pretty much stays the same with the addition of Nashville and the subtraction of the Capitals.

That wraps up the first part of my NHL realignment. It was hard for me to get all of the suits to agree with each other about as to what teams would play where but with the help of some Krispy Kreme donuts and Ulf Samuelsson on my side, we got things figured out right quick. I’ll post up part two which covers the Gretzky Conference tomorrow. Until then, feel free to post hateful comments at your leisure.

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