NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced during a recent press conference that it is not possible to realign the teams for the coming season. He said, although it is ultimately a board decision, the reallignment will likely mean a more balanced schedule.
Bettman has said that the alignment will likely take place for the 2012-2013. There are some looming issues in the NHL right now that would dramatically affect the reallignment – such as Altanta’s move to Winnipeg and Phoenix’s possible move after this coming season. Then, there’s the issue of the possibility that Columbus, Detroit or even Nashville can move out of the Western Conference and into the Eastern Conference.
However, looking at the 2011-2012 brings up an interesting question. Is the Predators new schedule a preview of the reallignment? That’s a question that Robin Lemmonds (@Mothhalo) posed to me last night. Lemmonds made a very good point, citing the tough schedule and the fact the Predators will be playing several series (both home and away) with teams that are in the Southeastern Division. The Predators have been impressive lately – and I’d say Lemmonds is right. Though, I think this season is more like a test. It will show if the Predators have reached a level where they can have success with such a difficult schedule. The result could determine whether the Predators switch to the Southeastern Division or if they stay in Western Conference.