NHL Realignment: How an NFL System Could Work

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NHL Realignment: How an NFL System Could Work
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Hockey will finally be under way in about a week and a half. Thank goodness!

The return of the NHL comes because the owners and players finally reached a new collective bargaining agreement several days ago. There are many components to this new agreement that no fan really cares about, but one thing left out was a realignment plan for the 2013-14 season.

Such a plan needs to be under way for next season, as several things about the current alignment need to be fixed—most notably the position of the Southeast Division's Winnipeg Jets.

Expansion could be an idea that the league may embrace, as it would bring in more revenue after a lot of money was lost due to the most recent lockout. Two cities that could be considered favorites to add NHL teams in the next few years are Seattle and Quebec City.

If the NHL comes to both of these cities, there would be 32 NHL teams, which is a better number for realignment than 30.

An idea with 32 teams that has been looked at by writers has been a four-conference system with eight teams in each conference; however, the opposite may work out, too.

The NFL has a system with two conferences that each have four divisions and four teams in each division.

This may be plausible in the NHL.

While no plan is perfect, there are a few different ways that the league could structure this.

What is the best idea for realignment?

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Option One

Western Conference

Division A: Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver 

Division B: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

Division C: Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg

Division D: Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Nashville

 

Eastern Conference

Division E: Boston, Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

Division F: Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto

Division G: Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers

Division H: Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington

These divisions are great geographically, but some rivalries are lost.

First of all, Boston and Montreal are separated. The only way the all-Canadian division would work out is if Boston and Buffalo were taken away from the rest of the current Northeast Division, which could spell the end for some rivalries as far as divisions go.

Who should move East?

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However, Boston could plausibly develop rivalries with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and still meet Montreal in the playoffs.

 

Option Two

Western Conference

Division A: Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver
 

Division B: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

Division C: Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg

Division D: Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis

 

Eastern Conference

Division E: Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto

Division F: Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec

Division G: Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers

Division H: Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington

Which option is the best out of these three?

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In this plan, Chicago and Detroit are separated. Detroit is also separated from the rest of the Western Conference—fans would be happy about this, but the rest of the West wouldn't, as Detroit draws in a lot of revenue on the West Coast.

Toronto is also separated from Montreal and Ottawa, which eliminates two major division rivalries. But Toronto was in the complete opposite conference as Montreal and Ottawa for several years, and nobody had too much of a problem with it.

In this plan, Toronto and Detroit could renew their historic rivalry.

 

Option Three

Western Conference

Division A: Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver

Division B: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose

Division C: Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg

Division D: Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, St. Louis

 

Eastern Conference

Division E: Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

Division F: Boston, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto

Division G: Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers 

Division H: Carolina, Florida, Nashville, Tampa Bay

This option moves Nashville to the Eastern Conference, much to the chagrin of Columbus and Detroit. Also, the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry is lost.

The schedule would have to change a little bit, but it's not extremely complicated. Each team would play ten games against each division rival (30 games), three games against each conference rival (36 games), and one game against each inter-conference opponent (15 games).

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