Re-alignment

My thoughts on the matter

In spite of the new CBA, the NHL has announced that they will re-visit the discussion surrounding a potential re-alignment again in a couple of years. There are a lot of theories out there, amongst others that this is when the League plans to expand with a team or two. If it doesn't, and the teams remain where they are today, I would like to see one of two re-alignments happen. I haven't seen anyone else suggesting any of these ideas, so I'm pretty sure none of them will come to fruition, but I'm allowed to dream, am I not?

 

There has been some speculation that a new re-alignment will allow 20 teams to qualify for the playoffs. It makes sense for the League, the teams, most of the fans and almost everyone else as well. My favorite re-alignment will make sure 20 teams qualify, while everyone has the "same" chance of making it (which really isn't true, unless you put all teams in the same standings, with the top X teams qualifying league-wide).

 

My primary suggestion puts all the 30 teams in five six-team divisions (no conferences), with the top four from each division qualifying for the playoffs. During the regular season, each team will play each division foe six times (for a total of 30 games), while they will face every other team twice (for a total of 48 games). After this 78-game season, the playoffs will start. The first two rounds will be divisional semi-finals and finals, producing five division winners. These five teams play a round-robin tournament (two at home and two on the road, randomly selected) for four additional "regular-season" games. The top four will face off in the third round of the playoffs (1st vs. 4th; 2nd vs. 3rd) before the Stanley Cup Final will conclude it all. This ensures than any two teams can meet in the finals, as long as they're not in the same division. Here are the suggested divisions:

 

Pacific Division

 

Anaheim Ducks

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks

Vancouver Canucks

 

Central Division

 

Arizona Coyotes (name effective from the 2014-'15 season)

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild

St. Louis Blues

Winnipeg Jets

 

Original Division

 

Boston Bruins

Chicago Blackhawks

Detroit Red Wings

Montréal Canadiens

New York Rangers

Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Northeastern Division

 

Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

Ottawa Senators

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Southeastern Division

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators

Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals

 

My secondary suggestion revolves around optimizing TV-times by placing all teams from the same time-zone in the same division. This set-up will have four divisions, and the top half of each division will qualify, as well as the top team not included in these fifteen. In the Mountain Division and the Pacific Division, two of four teams will qualify. In the Central Division, three of six teams will qualify, while the Eastern Division will see eight of their sixteen teams qualify. And then we have the wild-card, making it 16 playoff teams in the end.

 

Teams in the Pacific and Mountain divisions will play their division rivals six or seven times a year (for a total of 20 games), while they'll play the teams from the other named division and the Central Division three times each (for a total of 30 games). They'll play the teams from the Eastern Division twice each (for total of 32 games). This will be a grand total of 82 games, just like it is now. Teams in the Central Division will play each divisional foe five or six times each (for a total of 26 games), the teams from the Pacific and Mountain Divisions three times each (for a total of 24 games) and each Eastern Division team twice (for a total of 32 games).

 

The set-up for the Eastern Division may depend on how many sub-divisions it's divided into, if any (see below), but as they'll play the remaining 14 teams twice each (for a total of 28 games), it'll be 54 games remaining for the fifteen divisional foes. My suggestion is that we go with the four "sub-divisions" as outlined below, where they'll play their sub-division rivals six times each (for a total of 18 games), while they'll face the remaining Eastern teams three times each (for the remaining 36 games). Note that this set-up could be used, even if we decide to keep the Eastern teams in one division.

 

Seeding for playoffs will be as follows. The wild-card team will play the top qualifier from their own division. The middle qualifier in that division will play the middle qualifier in the Central Division. If the wild-card team is from the Central Division, then the 2nd placed team will play the 3rd placed team there. Here are the different possibilities for the first round. If the wild-card team is from the

 

- Pacific Division: Paci 1st vs. Paci 3rd; Paci 2nd vs. Cent 2nd; Moun 1st vs. Moun 2nd; Cent 1st vs. Cent 3rd; East 1st vs. East 8th; East 2nd vs. East 7th; East 3rd vs. East 6th; East 4th vs. East 5th.

 

- Mountain Division: Paci 1st vs. Paci 2nd; Moun 1st vs. Moun 3rd; Moun 2nd vs. Cent 2nd; Cent 1st vs. Cent 3rd; East 1st vs. East 8th; East 2nd vs. East 7th; East 3rd vs. East 6th; East 4th vs. East 5th.

 

- Central Division: Paci 1st vs. Paci 2nd; Moun 1st vs. Moun 2nd; Cent 1st vs. Cent 4th; Cent 2nd vs. Cent 3rd; East 1st vs. East 8th; East 2nd vs. East 7th; East 3rd vs. East 6th; East 4th vs. East 5th.

 

- Eastern Division: Paci 1st vs. Paci 2nd; Moun 1st vs. Moun 2nd; Cent 1st vs. Cent 3rd; Cent 2nd vs. East 5th; East 1st vs. East 9th; East 2nd vs. East 8th; East 3rd vs. East 7th; East 4th vs. East 6th.

 

The second round will be the Pacific winner vs. the Mountain winner, while the winners of the two match-ups containing Central teams in the first round will play eachother. In the Eastern Division, the 1st/8th(9th) winner will play the 4th/5th(6th) winner, while the 2nd/7th(8th) winner will play the 3rd/6th(7th) winner.Then comes the Pacific/Mountain vs. Central+ Final and the Eastern Division Final.

 

Alternatively, you could divide the Eastern Division into two eight-team divisions (identical to the current Eastern Conference divisions, with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd in the first round) or even into four four-team divisions (in order to get it in line with the two western-most divisions). The current divisions would be (grouping the sixteen Eastern Division teams into the four suggested four-team divisions):

 

Pacific Division

 

Anaheim Ducks

Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks

Vancouver Canucks

 

Mountain Division

 

Arizona Coyotes (see above)

Calgary Flames

Colorado Avalanche

Edmonton Oilers

 

Central Division

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Dallas Stars

Minnesota Wild

Nashville Predators

St. Louis Blues

Winnipeg Jets

 

Eastern Division

(a)

Boston Bruins

Montréal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs

(b)

Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

(c)

Columbus Blue Jackets

Detroit Red Wings

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

(d)

Carolina Hurricanes

Florida Panthers

Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals

 

I see some weak elements in this second suggestion, especially that the number of teams per division makes it a bit more random whether or not you'll reach the playoffs. But there are a lot of good things as well, as all divisional games will be played in the same time-zone, the Central Division's 2nd place team won't be placed too far away from their first-round opponent (the division is placed in the center of the continent east-west, after all), while the rivalries will be more intense than ever before!

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06.03 | 18:12

I'm doing a couple of concerts next weekend, so I'm not sure if I manage to get anything done this week, either, but I'll give it a shot...

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06.03 | 18:10

It doesn't mean that I'm giving up, but I'd be surprised if I managed to catch up ahead of the playoffs. No comment from people has made me neglect it further.

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06.03 | 18:06

Thanks, pal. I'm doing fine, but my schedule is terrible. Well, sort of... I'm extremely busy, and I just haven't had the time to keep up with this.

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05.03 | 18:19

Unfortunatly, there are no more updates. I hope you are doing fine. I miss your power ranking :)

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