Rearranging the Hunt: Send the Nashville Predators to the Eastern Conference

With movement striking in the West, it is time for a league shakeup, that should send the Predators to the East.
2002 Winter Olympic Games :
2002 Winter Olympic Games : / Tim de Waele/GettyImages

The Nashville Predators have had a great run chasing down prey in the Western Conference, but it is time that they took their fangs and took a bite out of the Eastern Conference.

First, we shall mourn the death of the Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes. It is a stain on the league that they allowed such mismanagment of a franchise that developed a home following and a hockey community from nothing. Now they have to watch their beloved franchise take off for Salt Lake City.

We should note that per the Athletic's Pieree LeBrun, this is still an ongoing situation and not completely set in stone just yet.

I don't think of Salt Lake City, Utah as a sports city. They have the Jazz and now the 'Yotes (who probably have to grab a new name) so maybe they can develop something and I'm sure there is a market for hockey there. It is just, not a place you think of regularly or one that has been talked about as often in talks of moving teams or expansion.

However, geographically we've got some issues that are arising from this. With expansion always looming it makes sense that the league starts its shuffle now to change up the divisions. The excellent Max Greenberg is giving us one option, and I'm pushing for another. Here's my take on how we make this league work. It keeps the current alignment with 8 teams in a division with two divisons in each conference.


First Off , Rename The Divisions

There are only two teams in the entire Atlantic Division that touch the Atlantic. It has three Canadian teams (plus Buffalo), two Florida teams, and Boston. It's an incoherant division in name and organization.

The Pacific? Three of their teams are in landlocked states/provinces. It's annoying. Bring back the old-school names and divisions. You could go with the Prince of Wales Conference, with Adams and Patrick Divisions, and the Clarence Campbell Conference, with Norris and Smythe Divisions. Maybe you take a more modern spin on it, but all of those names correspond with NHL awards and trophies, so it makes sense.

Second Let's Make it Make Geographical Sense

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman bet the house on making hockey in southern markets work, so put the south in a division. We'll start with the Campbell Conference

The Southern Division (Smythe) - Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets.

This division makes sense because it allows for expansion. Whether it is finally Kansas City, or Atlanta for the third time the NHL is going to go to a 34-team league and give you a base of teams to help build rivalries and a fan base. It makes several games driveable or easy flights for fans, and it keeps the time slots within an hour of each other. The travel reduction alone for some of these teams would make it worth it, as it eliminates trips from Miami to Canada several times a year, or Texas to Winnipeg which is just plain ridiculous.

For the Predators, it gives them geographical rivals in Florida and Carolina, keeps Dallas and St. Louis, and puts them in a favorable position playoff-wise. Plus it creates an opportunity for the South to police itself as a division, which should lead to teams building to play each other, leading to exciting fast-paced, and high-scoring hockey.

The Northeast Division (Patrick) - New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabers, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburg Penguins, Montreal Canadians

This is a rehash of the Metropolitan division with a dash of the Atlantic, but it works because historically none of these teams like each other, and the ones without severe beef will surely find ways to make it worse. You also free Montreal from Toronto's shadow, making it possible for more Canadian teams to make the playoffs, which is a good thing for the NHL.

Now onto the Prince of Wales Conference

The Central Division (Adams) - Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Salt Lake City Cougars? Coalminers?

There are already plenty of candidates for the nickname for the Salt Lake city NHL team floating around on social media.

This division has a little bit of everything. It does have a good mix of Canadian and original franchises, and it brings the travel restrictions way in. The Red Wings and Avalanche rivalry gets reignited, and Winnipeg finds a home that allows it to play Canadian teams that aren't terribly far away. Will anyone grow to hate the team in Salt Lake? No, but they'll have exciting opponents who will help attendance in the first few years.

The Western Division (Norris) - Seattle Kraken, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks LA Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Las Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers

This has a chance at being the most exciting division in hockey for a bit. The Knights have found the secret sauce, the Oilers have a player who might go down as an all-time great, and the Vancouver Canucks have a strong and deep roster poised for years of quality hockey. They'll all be close in time zone and it is basically the only division that stays intact.

All of these are sound in terms of team travel, and TV broadcast times, and it gives regional fans something to get excited over. It breaks up a bit of the Canadian log jam and gives them a chance to get more playoff chips. It puts the South on a pedestal where some of the best hockey is being played,

It makes a dent and shakes up the league that wants desperately to draw new viewers or give people a fresh perspective on the league.