Yesterday, I wrote an article depicting a four division realignment setup for the NHL that would feature two, eight team divisions and two seven team divisions. In order to understand this article, I would strongly suggest first reading that article so that you are informed on the setup of the divisions.
A four division setup is something the NHL has needed to migrate to for a long time now, and I believe that before the economy crashed in the United States, it was the NHL's intention to adopt the setup with the addition of two final franchises.
But there are many improvements that the NHL needs to make that would be addressed in this setup.
The most staggering change is that conferences would be completely eliminated. At first, this may seem like an unnecessary change. After all, what's wrong with the idea of conferences?
For Eastern teams it's not bad at all, but for Western conference teams, the travel is awful and the time zone change puts them at a serious disadvantage for fan base growth.
With six or seven division rivals, six games against all division teams is too much, thus, the four division setup would only feature five games against a division rival.
By doing this, there will still be an adequate number of games against division rivals, and teams can no longer split a regular season series. (In the interest of tiebreakers and competition)
On top of the five games versus each division opponent, every NHL team would play each other in two games, one home and one away, a year. This would take up 76 of the games in seven team divisions and 79 of the games in eight team divisions.
Should the NHL adopt a four division setup?
Any leftover games would be used to promote out of division rivalries, thus the Detroit Red Wings may play the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins, three or four times in a year rather than two.
Furthermore, the elimination of conferences would cause the playoffs to be seeded from ranks 1-16, rather than the current format of seeding 1-8 in either conference.
The reason I believe this change is needed is for more variety, especially in the later rounds. Certainly, we don't mind seeing Chicago and Vancouver play each other in consecutive years, but variety is also a very good thing.
For example, a 1-16 seeding formation would allow Stanley Cup Finals matchups such as: Detroit vs. Chicago, Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Boston vs. Montreal, San Jose vs. Detroit, Montreal vs. Toronto, Vancouver vs. Chicago, Pittsburgh vs. Washington and many other matchups.
Honestly, could anybody really complain about seeing that matchup on the bill for a Stanley Cup Final? More original six possibilities? The option of Crosby vs. Ovechkin or Datsyuk vs. Toews for the Cup?
That kind of variety would be possible not only for the finals, but for the entire playoffs. If that system had been applied last season, Pittsburgh would've faced the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
Furthermore, 1-16 seeding makes travel issues formerly limited to the Western Conference, fair for everyone.
Want to weigh in on this? Leave a comment with your opinions and ideas below!
Jordan Matthews is a fan of the NHL and of the Detroit Red Wings, for more hockey coverage you can become a fan of Jordan on Bleacher Report or like him on Twitter by clicking the like button below.