This is one of the worst ideas that the NHL has had in a while. I have hated the idea of unbalanced conferences since it was brought up and I still hate it. I hate the idea of two conferences having eight teams, and two of them having seven teams. I’m assuming that they will make it so the top 8 teams from the Eastern side and the Western side make it, but it will be extremely bush league if they make it so the Top 4 teams from each division make the playoffs. It would give teams in the divisions of seven a huge advantage, because there would be fewer teams battling for the same amount of spots.
Yes, this does help the Red Wings greatly with their travel and will guarantee them a playoff spot every season until the end of time. It will help them cut travel costs and make the organization happy. But, I have no desire to watch the Detroit Red Wings play Buffalo, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida, or Tampa Bay 5-6 times per year. I don’t care about having those particular Original 6 matchups anymore. Sweet, we sacrifice our biggest current rivals Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville, for teams that were our rivals when the NHL started. Yes, I love watching the Red Wings play Eastern Conference Original 6 teams, but that’s only because they hardly ever play them. The schedule they would be swapping for is terrible.
The NHL is drastically changing the division and conference realignment for literally no reason. Atlanta did move to Winnipeg, that is correct, but there is a simple way to fix this without blowing up the whole system and becoming the morons that create two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven.
Here is how you fix the divisions without being stupid:
Above is a picture of the current divisions and what you do is quite simple. You take Columbus and you move them from the Central to the Eastern Conference and put them in the Southeast division and group together all the teams that people really don’t care about. Then to replace Columbus you move Minnesota from the Northwest to the Central. Then magically Winnipeg slides into the Northwest to replace Minnesota.
You swap around three teams. You don’t have to worry about losing rivalries. You don’t have to worry about inconveniencing teams. Sure, the Red Wings don’t get to move out East and they’ll be upset about that, but as a fan I’m cool with it. As a season ticket holder, I have no desire to keep season tickets if I’m going to be watching Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa and Toronto for 15+ of the 41 home games until the end of time. Screw that. I’m paying for a product, and I’m going to get a terrible product watching these teams come to the Joe, especially when you see you’re taking away Chicago, St. Louis, and Nashville. The Central Division is arguably the best division in the NHL, and you’re just going to destroy it. Of course it is possible that those teams will get better and they likely will, but it will never be the same as the Central Division or playing in the Western Conference. This is a pathetic strategy and design plan by the NHL.
If you couldn’t tell, I don’t like this, not at all. The Red Wings love it, and why shouldn’t they? Less travel time and they get a much easier schedule. It is a huge win for the Detroit franchise. They should be a lock for the Eastern Conference semi-finals every year until the end of time if this happens. I just hate change, especially when it’s unnecessary and the idea is flat out terrible. I feel like I’m yelling at a wall with my proposal that is a complete no-brainer. How could no one think of this or mention this? It’s moving around three teams, it’s pretty much the most simple and obvious solution ever.
Does Gary Bettman think that eventually he will expand two teams out West to give them two 8-team divisions? Where you going to put them? Seattle and Kansas City? Yeah that’ll work. You just had a lockout because 30-teams said they weren’t making enough money, and now your bright idea is to shift to these divisions and add two more teams in non-hockey markets? Newsflash Gary, unless your game magically grows at an exponential rate after you just tried to kill it (again), there is no chance that 32 teams splitting revenue will bring in a ton of money.
This idea is a disaster and while the Red Wings will love it, I don’t see anyone else loving it. I don’t see how the Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning will love this. Same goes for Colorado or Dallas. All four of those teams will be travelling a ton. Yes, it may cut costs for some teams, but what about rivalries? How are the Red Wings just supposed to never play Chicago? Only two games with Chicago each year is terrible. I really hope this doesn’t go through, because this is just another brutal idea courtesy of the NHL. No sports league has unbalanced divisions because it’s a bush league idea. The MLB had been trying to fix their unbalanced AL and NL for years until they were finally able to move the Houston Astros. I wish the NHL would figure their stuff out and learn how to actually function as a professional sports league.
Realignment Map by Bill Turianski