The old Patrick Division could be getting back together
after all, along with two more teams. The Players’ Association vetoed a realignment
proposal over a year ago, but the NHL has come back with a revised plan according to CBC's Elliotte Friedman (via Puck Daddy). Hope
you don’t have a thing for symmetry.
The biggest change to the old proposal: in addition to the
Winnipeg Jets joining the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings and
Columbus Blue Jackets would also move into the East. For you math majors out
there, that’s 16 teams in the East compared to 14 out West. More to the point, that’s
the opposite of the previous presentation.
The Flyers’ division – or conference, as the league is
referring to the four of them – would feature all of the current Atlantic
Division clubs plus the Washington Capitals, who were members of both the defunct
Patrick Division as well as the Atlantic at one time. The Carolina Hurricanes are
set to join them too, all of which is the same as the previous arrangement.
New to the party this time around are the Blue Jackets, while
the Red Wings head over to the other grouping in the East.
From a pure geography standpoint it makes sense. It’s somewhat surprising the league
would willingly move the Red Wings, abandoning many long-standing
rivalries in the process, particularly with Chicago. Detroit isn’t
really any further west than Columbus however, and it’s said both franchises would
prefer to make the jump for travel reasons.
From a fair competition standpoint, unbalanced conferences
never make much sense. Technically the odds of making the tournament will always be better
in the West, although Friedman indicated there might be some sort
of “wild card” for the East. Who knows what that means, but will that really correct any injustices?
The league eventually expanding to 32 teams is also on the
table believe it or not (maybe they should worry about the 30 they have?), so
theoretically the unbalanced look may not be permanent. One of the expansion
teams would almost certainly be in Quebec City though, and the other could be Toronto,
so that’s one if not two more for the East.
The league needs to do something about Winnipeg sooner
rather than later, but this kind of radical realignment seems to create more
problems than it solves, not to mention could be unnecessary with expansion in
the cards. Yet all that matters in the end is whether it has the support of the players, and
if travel is the primary concern, the plan might be received quite favorably.
>> NHL's four-conference realignment proposal [Puck Daddy]
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