New NHL: Hamilton Coyotes, Kansas Islanders, Quebec Panthers, Another Toronto?

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New NHL: Hamilton Coyotes, Kansas Islanders, Quebec Panthers, Another Toronto?
(Photo by Kevork Djansezianl/Getty Images)

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.

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