Realignment talk is going to dominate NHL discussion today and tomorrow and with the latest proposal being leaked out and discussed, there’s a few things to keep in mind while the Board of Governors meet in Pebble Beach to figure out which direction the league heads in.
The playoffs always help make a rivalry real. The NHL adopted an unbalanced schedule to force rivalries to happen and while that’s been nice, it hasn’t paid off. Going back to a balanced schedule and a playoff format with the top four teams in each conference facing each other first in the first two rounds is the right way to make it happen. Old hate becomes new hate and new hate is good for business.
2. The Phoenix Situation
This could be the final year we see the Coyotes play in Glendale. Deciding on realignment without knowing where the Coyotes could land next is tricky. Elliotte Friedman reports that their next location could be any of Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, or Las Vegas. If they move to Seattle or Vegas, fine. Kansas City or Quebec could create headaches. The NHL better have a backup plan for where the Coyotes can switch to just in case.
3. Detroit and Columbus and Nashville and Dallas
These four teams all want their travel problems alleviated. Detroit and Columbus want to be with more easterly teams, Nashville wants something similar, while Dallas wants to be lumped in with the Central Division teams for travel purposes. If they’re going to do radical realignment, getting all of these teams what they want is difficult but there’s got to be compromise. Will the balanced schedule be enough?
4. Plan C is for “cop out”
If none of the radical proposals work out, the one move that will end up playing out is seeing Winnipeg swapped out with either Detroit or Columbus. If this is the one move that’s made, that’s a big failure for the Board of Governors. If selfish needs and petty desires get in the way of fixing things up, they should feel ashamed. They’ll also have to hear a lot from Columbus/Detroit and Dallas management at the very least. Who wants to listen to a cranky Mike Ilitch anyway?
5. Embrace being different
Fans seem to want things to be somewhat the same but just a little bit different. The NHL isn’t like the other major sports and should embrace being different. Hockey’s uniqueness makes it special. A four conference format? Have at it. Divisional/Conference playoffs to decide who goes to the NHL final four? Go for it, it worked in the 80s. Doing things old school is all the rage as it is, having the league embrace it would be beautiful.