Tag: realignment

Steve Yzerman, Vincent Lecavalier

Steve Yzerman isn’t a fan of realignment proposal for Tampa Bay


When it comes to the latest realignment proposal by the NHL, we already know Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t much of a fan, but you can add the Tampa Bay Lightning to that list as well.

General manager Steve Yzerman tells Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune that he doesn’t like the hassle the latest solution puts his team through when it comes to travel and competition.

“And logistically if it gets done the way it appears to be proposed certainly having four original six teams in our division is something I think our fanbase would appreciate . . . but again the traveling crossing the border and flying above Carolina and Washington to play teams in our own division those are things that we don’t like about it for our organization.”

In case you forgot, Tampa Bay and Florida would be the outliers in a new division with Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Montreal, and Boston. Having to deal with customs and border crossings is a pain, but a kind of necessary one in the hockey world.

If I were Tampa Bay, or more accurately Florida, I’d be more worried about visiting fans trying to take over my home arena each time. There’s no shortage of fans of those teams on the road.

Report: Realignment being discussed once again

Jared Boll

Now that the NHL and NHLPA have put the labor stuff behind them for the next 8-10 years, they’ve got a new project to tackle.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the two sides are discussing realignment once again and this time they’re going to make sure everyone’s on the same page. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly tells Brooks they are working on a realignment plan for next season but nothing has been approved or finalized by the Board of Governors.

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr hopes the union’s fears over extended travel for some teams as well as competitive balance worries can be allayed by being kept abreast of what the NHL wants to do.

“We expect to talk with the league on the subject this week,” Fehr said. “A year ago, when we raised the issue of increased travel for teams, the league did not have mock schedules for us to review that might have alleviated our concern.”

After going through a labor war, getting realignment figured out should be a relative walk in the park. If the league wants to stick to their “four conferences” plan and a return to divisional playoffs, however, the competitive balance issue will be tough to wrangle with 30 teams. It wouldn’t be a shock to see expansion discussed to alleviate that issue.

Report: Realignment won’t happen this season, possible for 2013-14

Blue Jackets Jets Hockey

Last week there was talk about the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets swapping places in a potential shortened season. Now that the lockout is over and we will have either a 48 or 50-game season, fans in those cities will be happy (or wildly disappointed) to know nothing will change.

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press reports there will be no realignment this season, but they do expect to see plans for realignment reactivated for the 2013-14 season. This just means the potential travel reprieve both the Jets and Jackets would’ve gotten from trading places won’t happen this year.

If realignment talk is real and we will see something happen during the offseason, there are a lot of moves that could be made. The NHL tried to make realignment happen during last season, but saw that shut down by the players’ association.

Should the NHL change its postseason seeding system?

Ryan Miller

In the Eastern Conference, you could make a fair argument that having the seventh or sixth seed is preferable to the fifth seed because the eventual Northeast and Southeast Division winners will almost certainly have an inferior record to the fourth seed team. In the Western Conference, the sixth seed Chicago Blackhawks might be better off taking on the third seed Pacific Division winner than grabbing the fifth seed and being forced to play against Nashville or Detroit.

It raises the question: Does the current seeding format need tweaking?

“I hope they do evaluate it because it’s antiquated,” Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said.

The idea behind the current system, where each division winner is guaranteed a top-three position, is to encourage rivalries and also cater to the league’s unbalanced schedule. The flipside is the third seed team can be inferior to the fourth seed, or worse. In 2007-08, the Washington Capitals won the Southeast Division with 94 points, which is also what the eighth place Boston Bruins got.

“I think it’s easy to pick apart the system this year because we have four teams in the division this year that are doing really well,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “There’s a reason why that rule’s in place. I mean yeah, it’s been talked about this year where maybe the division winner automatically makes the playoffs but you seed them where they’d be seeded, so Florida would be eighth or seventh, same with Boston.”

A system like that might be fairer, but by reducing the importance of winning the division, you risk taking away some of the drama associated with the final days of the regular season. The Detroit Red Wings stand to lose in the current system, but Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke out in support of the current system.

“If you’re going to have divisions, you have to reward the division winners with something and right now that’s a top-three seed,” Holland said. “We all play different schedules. Some might have five good teams in their division, some three. But at the end of the day, there’s so much parity in the league.”

Of course, if the system does need tweaking, now is the time to do it. The current CBA is set to expire before the start of the 2012-13 campaign and they need to realign anyways so that the Winnipeg Jets are moved out of the Southeast Division. The NHL already tried to go with their four conference system, but the NHLPA ultimately rejected it.

Gary Bettman discusses realignment, labor talks

Gary Bettman

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made a visit to Anaheim today and the media gathered to discuss a variety of league-wide and local issues. The most interesting tidbits – at least regarding what Bettman would call “new news” – revolve around dealings with the NHLPA.

PHT’s own Matt Reitz was on hand to gather Bettman’s comments, including this bit on realignment:

“The most significant thing I can say about that is the governors were overwhelming in support of the plan,” Bettman said. “It’s something that we, as a league, thought was the right thing to do for our fans, for the team, for the game. But we made the decision based on the position that the union was taking to try not to be confrontational right now. Ultimately, our goal will be to be to implement the will of the board [of governors].”

For the most part, Bettman didn’t provide a whole lot of information about the negotiation process regarding the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. He did share an interesting little nugget about when the discussions could begin, though:

“Well, Don Fehr has repeatedly said that he wouldn’t be ready until after the All-Star [weekend],” Bettman said. “My guess is that at some point in the next few weeks, we’ll probably sit down—assuming the union is comfortable doing that. There’s a pretty steep learning curve in terms of the business from the union’s standpoint, what the players are focused on, and we’ve been respectful of that process. So whenever they’re ready, we’re ready. We’ve been ready.”

Speaking of readiness, Bettman spoke about what is likely the greatest fear of hockey people: another protracted work stoppage. When asked if the league “learned a lesson” after the lockout, Bettman’s response was logical but not necessarily soothing:

“I’m not sure it’s about learning lessons, because the lesson that everybody knows – and it’s not one you have to learn – is that you want to not have work stoppages,” Bettman said. “They’re not fun. They’re counter-productive. But if, if you’re in a situation as we were where there were fundamental problems that had to be addressed, you have to address the problems. Because you can’t live with a dysfunctional system.”

It’s not crazy to view that quote as a bit cryptic, especially if he views the current system as dysfunctional.

It’s tough to imagine the league taking that stand, but that doesn’t mean that a work stoppage is out of the question – especially with the aforementioned realignment talk in mind.

If you want to hear more from Bettman’s meeting with the press (expect more on Thursday morning), The OC Register’s Eric Stephens captured some of his full comments in the video below.