NHLs New Realignment Proposal Puts 16 Teams in Eastern Conference

NHLs New Realignment Proposal Puts 16 Teams in Eastern Conference

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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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CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).