REALIGNMENT: is it duct tape, superglue, or a weld?


FOUR conferences? Not divisions, but conferences? HUH? The scary thing is that it actually does make sense. Some teams won, other teams lost. Some teams are convincing themselves that they won when in reality they lost horribly. Realignment has finally been announced, and we have no choice but to talk about it, and laugh.

"Decisions made from desperationNo way to goInternal instincts craving isolationFor me to growMy fears come aliveIn this place where I once diedDemons dreamingKnowing I…I just needed to realign-Godsmack, “Realign”"

In case you were passed out, in Latin America, or didn’t have internet access last night, the NHL has dissolved divisions. Instead, we now have FOUR conferences.

In the West, Winnipeg was added in, and no one was shipped back to the East. *LOL* Finally, the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Canucks, are all in the same division to tear each other apart for the next 5 years or so. It’ll be glorious, and likely the best … conference in hockey.

CONFERENCE A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, and Vancouver.

CONFERENCE B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, The good guys, St. Louis, and Winnipeg.

So both Detroit and Columbus are stuck in the Central Time zone? Heh. The real losers in this new setup have to be Calgary, Columbus, Winnipeg, and dare I say it… Phoenix. “B” looks to be a murderers row of teams that have all drafted well, and Detroit. Winnipeg’s ability to compete will be tested dearly, and while Columbus talked like they won, they may have lost even more. Calgary’s inability to draft and develop could send them into a tailspin now being married to that division.

In the East, the Southeast division was broken apart and the teams were stirred around, leaving us this:

CONFERENCE C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

CONFERENCE D: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

What, the Leafs and Habs didn’t want a part of Pittsburgh or Washington in their division? They’d rather have the Panthers and Sens? NO WAY! This is the lone part of this debate I don’t care for. You can’t tell me that Toronto didn’t get a sweetheart deal in this.

Is this sustainable? We’ll see. The conferences are unbalanced- “A” and “B” have more teams than “C” and “D”. And you can’t tell me the Board of Governors isn’t preparing for another shift coming down the road. With the exception of “C”, they can all be split into divisions easily with geography in mind. This will be ideal, with the NFL as a model. The NFL went to 2 conferences with 8 total divisions years ago, putting geography as chief with the exception of the East divisions, and it have been very successful in creating rivalries. The reason why college sports in this country draws the insane crowds that it does is due to intense REGIONAL RIVALRIES. It’s what drives the boat. Of course the NHL has yet to develop the parity the NFL has through revenue sharing and TV contracts, but down the road, it will enhance the league greatly.

Seattle is prime real estate for the NHL. It just lacks the arena. Don Levin is working to change that in nearby Bellevue, WA. Kansas City has the building, but no one ponied up when the Thrashers went up for sale. Quebec City has the plans for a building, but it’s Quebec City. Regardless, if you don’t think the NHL is planning for expansion with this new realignment, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

The NHL wants expansion eventually. Before the talent gets redistributed, the soft new teams inflate the chances of traditional teams which grows TV revenue. The fact is that more people tune in to see the Maple Leafs and Rangers than the Lightning and Flames. We may not like it, but it’s true. More people tune in to see the Dallas Cowboys than the Minnesota Vikings.

So moving forward, we will see a new NHL better planned for the future. The rules are better than years ago, and for the most part the realignment sets the league up for success in big revenue and small revenue markets alike, provided they draft well. (Hence the potential for Columbus and Calgary to suffer in the new conferences) Provided that the CBA gets renewed, and we’re talking a new golden age in the not so distant future.