The NHL has been evolving the way Commissioner Gary Bettman wants, but sometimes evolution is unpredictable. You know what Mark Twain said about evolution: “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.”
Canada's BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie is trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and make them Canada's seventh NHL franchise. Russian natural gas billionaire Alexander Medvedev recently stated his desire to buy an American NHL team and move it to Quebec City. Another group is trying to get a second NHL team for Toronto.
Kansas City is rumored to be talking to Charles Wang about moving the New York Islanders. Winnipeg still wants the Jets to return.
Bleacher Report writer Tom DeMatteo recently predicted this realignment for the NHL:
Northeast Division: Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo
Atlantic Division: Boston, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey, Philadelphia
Southeast Division: No changes.
Central Division: Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, Pittsburgh
Pacific Division: Vancouver, Colorado, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim
The "I'm not sure what to call it" Division: Nashville, Dallas, Minnesota, Calgary, Edmonton
With two teams in Toronto, one in Quebec, and one in Winnipeg, plus the Islanders in Kansas City, I see it this way:
Great Lakes Division: Toronto, Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo, Detroit
Northeast Division: Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Boston, New York, New Jersey
Prairie Division: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, Colorado
Western Division: Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose, Anaheim, L.A.
Central Division: Kansas City, Nashville, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina
Southern Division: Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Dallas, St. Louis
That's the way I can see it in the near future. But in the not-too-distant future, I see it this way:
Canadian Division: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec
American Division: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Columbus, Minnesota, L.A., Anaheim
Russian Division: Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Omsk, Checkhov, Minsk, Latvia, Belarus
European Division: Prague, Stockholm, Berlin, Cologne, Salzburg, Helsinki, Tappara, Turku, Tampere, Gothenburg
By that time, the National Hockey League will have evolved into the International Hockey League or the Global Hockey League.