Saturday night, the fine folks on CBC discussed the latest ideas regarding the necessary realignment of the NHL. It seems there are still a lot of ideas on the table, but there are a couple of vital things the league has to get right this time and there’s some long-range planning that needs to be taken into consideration as well.
First, Detroit and Columbus move east and Winnipeg gets out of the Southeast. The Wings have long wished to play the majority of their games in the Eastern time zone and they will apparently get their wish.
Second, the seasonal scheduling allows for home-and-home games with every team in the opposite conference and puts more division teams in the same time zone, crucial for television scheduling.
Next, the proposal accounts for Divisional playoffs, not based on Conference. This helps generate rivalries and makes for more consistent television scheduling.
Finally, this proposal makes it easy when Phoenix and Florida eventually relocate, most likely to Seattle and Quebec, respectively.
Eventually, the NHL will expand again, adding two more teams to bring the league to 32. They can’t help themselves. They see those franchise fees and it’s like printing money, talent distribution be damned. The player’s union loves expansion too since it adds 50 more jobs. So let’s have some speculative fun!
We’ll assume those Phoenix and Florida moves above. And let’s award our fictional expansion teams to Toronto and Kansas City. Now, imagine the four eight-team divisions:
|Orr (Northeast)||Howe (East)||Hull (Central)||Gretzky (West)|
|Toronto 1||Pittsburgh||St. Louis||San Jose|
|Toronto 2||Washington||Kansas City||Los Angeles|