NHL Re-Alignment: Why We Should Wait Until 2013-14 to Shake Things Up

Mark PareCorrespondent IIJune 29, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 20:  Fans dressed in Winnipeg Jets uniforms attend Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 20, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 6-3 to win the series 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NHL is going through it's phase of moving teams around in hopes of having financial stability.  It seems we do it every 10 years or so, because not all business decisions are good ones.

The most recent business failure was located in Atlanta. For the second time the Georgia capital lost an NHL franchise to a Canadian city.

First, the Flames moved to Calgary—and are a better franchise for it. 

The Flames were bought for $16 million and are now worth over $200 million.  You can blame that on how the dollar has grown in value over the years, but the fact remains that the Flames will be around for years to come.

Now that the Thrashers are in Winnipeg, we look towards a plan of re-alignment.

The only problem we have now is located in Phoenix.

Matthew Hulsizer withdrew his bid to purchase the Coyotes and now the NHL has a dilemma on their hands.  They will keep the team in Phoenix for 2011-12.  When you look at the 2012-13 season, we are sure to see a new NHL and plenty of changes.

But with this problem with Phoenix continuously going from unresolved to prosperous to unresolved once again, should they just get out of town?

We know that Quebec City would love to have their beloved Nordiques back in town, and Jim Balsille has been awfully quiet as of late.  In Balsille's case, we would have to assume he gets an agreement with the Leafs to have a team in Hamilton, ON.

Here is what the alignment could look like in 2012-13, if nothing else changes and the Phoenix Coyotes continue to suffer financial losses.

We would see three divisions of five per conference cut to two divisions per conference.  Two with eight teams, two with seven teams.

Eastern Conference

North Division: Toronto Maple Leafs,Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, New York Islanders

This would keep the Northeast division in tact with their long-standing rivalries.  It would also house five of the Original Six teams which would definitely ignite old rivalries with the Red Wings, who have been in the Western Conference for many years—thus only getting to face each team once in the season.

Atlantic Division: New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers

Keeping the Southeast division together after losing a rival in Atlanta will only benefit the NHL.  Plus, with this alignment the Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry can be reborn and possibly with more flare, now that they are divisional rivals.

Western Conference

Pacific Division: San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars

Allowing the Pacific Division to stay together will be vital as they all start to become better with younger talent coming in.  This was a simple solution.

Central Division: Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators

The rest of the NHL happen to be located in the central portion of North America. Thus, they become the Central Division.  The Jets could fly in a division littered with teams like Columbus and St. Louis, but look out for juggernauts in Chicago—and a team on the rise in Nashville.

This would be a great solution, but should we wait until 2013-14 to see where the Phoenix situation goes?  If they happen to relocate to Eastern Canada (either Quebec City or Hamilton), here is how the NHL could look two seasons from now.

Same thing, two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven split in the Western and Eastern Conferences.

Eastern Conference

North Division: Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, (Quebec Nordiques or Hamilton), Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders

Again, the Northeast would be unscathed, with the New York teams coming in to provide some great rivalries for the future—barring the Islanders don't get any worse.  The new team coming in could provide the Habs and Leafs some great rivalries, whether it be in Quebec City or Hamilton.

Atlantic Division: Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers

Same thing as above, I am a big fan of what this division could produce.  There isn't a clear front-runner and most of their games could be classics.

Western Conference

Pacific Division: San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars

Another simple solution, the only problem would be that the Wild would lose their rivals from the Northwest Division.

Central Division: Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings would stay in the Western Conference and continue to battle with their original Central Division rivals.  The Jets and Wild could even develop into a huge rivalry.

The NHL has a blind spot in it's future plans with re-alignment, so the question is should they wait?  Sure, Winnipeg will have to remain in the Southeast Division for another year, but that's not the point here. 

The point is that with Phoenix's future, should the NHL wait for re-alignment?  What do you think?