The topic of realignment hasn’t come up at all in CBA negotiations, but if a new deal is reached to save the season we might see two teams trade conferences.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports there’s talk within the NHL of having the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets trading spots for this year only pending future realignment. The benefit here during a possible 48-game schedule is on travel.
If the Jets start a shortened season in the Southeast Division once again, travel for them would be murderous over the course of the four or five month season. Columbus staying in the Central Division wouldn’t be much better for them travel-wise and certainly wouldn’t be helpful competitively.
On the upside, we’d get to have that awkward “Rick Nash returns to Columbus as a New York Ranger” game right away this season. There’d also be Sergei Bobrovsky’s revenge match with Philadelphia to look forward to as well.
If it’s just a one-season fix, it works out just fine. It cuts down on manic travel for a couple teams in awkward positions and opens the door for things to be fixed for good in the offseason.
Plus, as Brooks so bluntly put it, you’re trading one non-playoff team for another one in the name of easing travel. Win-win situation.
Minnesota owner “disappointed” with rejected realignment
“To say I am disappointed in the actions of the NHLPA to deny consent to implement realignment for next season is an understatement. Our fans were universally excited to be playing against midwestern teams in the previous old Norris Division.
“I’m disappointed for our fans, our employees and our players. It appears everyone wanted this to happen except the leaders of the players’ union. I pledge to Wild fans to continue to pursue this realignment plan as aggressively as possible.”
Leipold’s comments aren’t surprising, especially since the Wild were thought to be one of the “winners” of NHL realignment. Sportsnet’s John Shannon noted Minnesota (and Dallas) were the only teams in their divisions in the central time zone; both were pleased to cut down travel and make their televised road games start at more reasonable times.
Ilya Bryzgalov sums up realignment in simple, delightful way
In some ways, it seems like Ilya Bryzgalov and the Philadelphia Flyers makes for a union that’s only slightly more promising than Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian. Bryzgalov can be a sensitive soul and Philly fans are known for being a little … harsh. On the bright side, Breezy can be awfully funny and strange. That side shows up in his simple synopsis of realignment (which he learned about through the media on Tuesday, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker).
In case you had trouble making out his response, Baicker transcribed it as: “That’s much more travel, huh? Damn!”
Sure, Maxime Talbot and Kimmo Timonen gave deeper, more nuanced responses to the realignment talk, but Breezy’s response might be the most honest (and is certainly the most amusing). Generally speaking, the new format will give “West” teams a travel break and force “East” teams to travel a bit more. (I put the two current conferences in quotation marks because there won’t really be Eastern or Western conferences anymore.)
Long story short, Bryzgalov would probably vote for his own team as the biggest “loser” of realignment. Share your own opinion on who will deal the best and worst breaks from this pending change by voting in this poll.
Just what are they going to name these new conferences anyhow?
The old fashioned 1980s traditionalist in all of us wants to see a throwback to the way things used to be before the NHL got all corporate and NBA-ified. Bringing back the names of the old divisions (Patrick, Adams, Norris, Smythe) has everyone’s nostalgia up and really, why not? It goes back to that whole “embracing your uniqueness” we talked about yesterday.
Naming the conferences after the founders of the league gave the NHL its identity and gave us all a reason to look up just who the heck these guys were that the divisions were named after. It might not be as fun as Paul Bissonnette’s idea for naming the conferences after rappers, but I don’t know that we’re ready for the Biggie Smalls Conference just yet.
Not only would this solution be boring but it’s completely inaccurate for the Northeast Division. Unless both Florida and Tampa Bay are relocating to Quebec City and Hamilton, Ontario there’s little chance for them to be confused with being northeast teams.
If you want to go historical and new school, the suggestion of naming the conferences after Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, and Gordie Howe is out there as well. Only issue there is naming a conference after a current owner (Lemieux) is probably a big no-no. Good luck picking an appropriate fifth person for that honor.
Sadly enough, the boring geographical way to name the conferences is probably viewed as the easiest way to handle things. At the very least they could just name the Northeast Conference the “Snowbird Conference” to honor their two Florida teams.
Realignment should force NHL’s point system to change
The NHL’s plan to realign teams into four conferences has been overwhelmingly positive. As with all things, however, there are some negative aspects lurking beneath the surface and for realignment, some of those worries are understandable. One big issue that comes into play is the NHL’s point system.
Without a doubt we’ll run into a situation where a fourth place team in one conference will have fewer points than a fifth or sixth place team in a separate conference leading fans of those teams to believe they got shafted.
The answer to those complaints will always be to “win more games” but in conference playoff races, a handful of points might make the difference. Just imagine what the reaction will be if say a team like Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or New York missed the playoffs because they didn’t have as many overtime/shootout losses as the team ahead of them.
A team going to the playoffs because they made it to overtime more often than another one? Insanity. There’s no doubt the shootout is a gimmick that’s here to stay, but fixing the points system would alleviate these worries. The NHL should make it so all games are worth three points. Win in regulation and a team gets three, but if the game goes to overtime or the shootout, each team gets one point and the winner gets the third.
It’s simple enough, it works in International hockey, and it’ll ensure that coaches and GMs won’t have a coronary at the end of the season because they didn’t play enough overtime games. Teams don’t want the shootout to decide games or playoff races and making regulation wins worth that much more should be incentive enough to make it happen.