While the Preds were busy stinking up Joe Louis Arena tonight, word leaked out among the hockey media of a new proposed NHL realignment plan that looks very good for the Nashville Predators.
NHL realignment has been on the table since the league passed a plan last season, one which the players’ association rejected as part of its run-up to the lockout. That old plan didn’t look particularly favorable to the Nashville Predators, who already play in hockey’s toughest division. It kept the Central Division intact and brought two teams into it.
The new plan has two conferences of seven teams each in the West and two others of eight teams apiece in the East. The proposed plan would have Nashville in one of the western conferences with two of its current divisional rivals. Here’s the full breakdown of conferences:
|Conference 1||Conference 2||Conference 3||Conference 4|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Boston Bruins||Chicago Blackhawks||Anaheim Ducks|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Buffalo Sabres||Colorado Avalanche||Calgary Flames|
|New Jersey Devils||Detroit Red Wings||Dallas Stars||Edmonton Oilers|
|New York Islanders||Florida Panthers||Minnesota Wild||Los Angeles Kings|
|New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens||Nashville Predators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ottawa Senators||St. Louis Blues||San Jose Sharks|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Tampa Bay Lightning||Winnipeg Jets||Vancouver Canucks|
|Washington Capitals||Toronto Maple Leafs|
The first thing you notice is that the conferences are uneven. That was one of the players’ complaints about the last NHL realignment proposal. There’s talk of some sort of wild-card playoff to fix those concerns but nothing appears to be on the record yet.
Nashville loses its rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings. It’s something that the Predators organization and Preds fans have taken very seriously over the years, but Detroit really couldn’t care much less. If the Wings win, they’re loud about it. If the Preds win a game, they just yawn and say something about the Stanley Cup. It isn’t difficult to imagine a rivalry developing with the Minnesota Wild to replace the one with the Wings, one that both sides would take seriously.
Then there’s the loss of six games a season against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That will hurt in the short term but Columbus is probably going to be on the rise in the coming years with new GM Jarmo Kekalainen at the helm. Besides, Nashville gains a lot of games against Colorado; 6-5 goalfests notwithstanding, they have been pretty bad against the Preds in recent memory.
And finally, most of the team’s travel will be within the Central Time Zone. There will still be West Coast games, but not as many of them. That is great news for fans who want to watch the Preds when they’re on the road.
So how serious is this NHL realignment plan? Nick Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports says the league wants it done quickly:
Based on timeline Daly gave me recently, NHL wants realignment wrapped up in next week.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 24, 2013
Who knows whether that will happen. The lockout is in the rear-view mirror so there should be little to argue about these days. This plan may very well become the league’s new template with a few minor tweaks.
Do you think the proposed NHL realignment plan is good for the Nashville Predators?
- Yes (74%, 17 Votes)
- No (26%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 23