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Blog Entry

Realignment winners and losers

Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:27 am
 

By Brian Stubits

In one hour of the Board of Governors convening in Pebble Beach, Calif., the NHL changed radically. It actually reverted back to the way it used to be, just with a lot more teams (you can thank expansion).

So with all that said, here's our Winners and Losers of realignment. Let's get right to it.

Winners

Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets

They wanted more games within their time zone and fewer trips to the West. Mission accomplished. Now those two will be with teams in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg. With only one visit to every non-conference arena, that means each team will only play four games in the Pacific time zone as opposed to the eight they currently play.

Dallas Stars

In that same vein, the Stars have to be thrilled with this plan. Considering they have been playing 11 games in the Pacific time zone, they now also cut that down to four games. These things will greatly help the fan bases watch more games and, in theory, more fan support.

"Everyone knew our position on this," GM Joe Nieuwendyk said. "We wanted out of the Pacific Division. This makes total sense for us."

The mid-Atlantic

Particularly the Washington Capitals. Under the original four-conference format, the Keystone State rivalry was broken up and the Capitals and Penguins were in separate divisions. Not under this. Now the Atlantic Division is staying completely intact and it's adding the Capitals (Carolina Hurricanes, too). Who doesn't want to continue to see six games a season between the Flyers and Penguins? Now we'll also get six between the Penguins and Capitals. The Caps will now get to rekindle all those old Patrick Division rivalries.

"We understood, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, which rivalries were very heavily embedded," Gary Bettman said.

Displaced fans

Now if you're a Devils fan living in Los Angeles, you are guaranteed you will get a chance to see New Jersey play in person every season without having to hop on a flight. The same can be said for all of those ...

Northeastern snowbirds

All those people from the Northeast and Canada that have their parents living in Florida? This will be nice for them. There are obviously a lot of people who migrate south for the winter and they will get an extra visit to the teams in Florida. The local scribes will appreciate this, too. Many have already dubbed this the snowbird conference.

Losers

The Florida duo

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Of the four votes that were against this realignment plan, it's a good bet that two of them came from the Panthers and Lightning. The two teams still have each other, but that's it. Now their closest division foes are in Buffalo and Boston. There will be a lot of long flights to Canada and New England.

But there are two bits of good news for the Florida teams. They will sell a few more tickets, albeit to opposing fans. The Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Bruins will be much bigger hits for them than the Hurricanes and Jets.

The other bit is more games in Canada for the players. At least it's good news to Panthers center Stephen Weiss. “We do a lot of travel anyway. I think that would probably make it even more,” Panthers center Stephen Weiss said. “But that's the nature of the beast. It's where we live, and you've got to do what you've got to do.”

The players

The only potential speed bump in all of this? The NHLPA. It won't be fond of all the increased travelling, which there will be or pretty much everybody. With guaranteed trips to every arena, that's a few additional trips cross country. It will hit players at some point, travelling is already one of the worst parts of the job.

Expansion foes

Yes, this format seems perfect for either two more or two fewer teams. And contrary to popular belief, contraction isn't likely to happen. So more expansion is possible. The same cities will be the candidates; Kansas City, Quebec City (if they don't get the Coyotes to move to them), Seattle, Las Vegas and Houston. Arenas are needed in most of those places -- K.C. has that part covered -- first, so it wouldn't be for a few years at least. But it could happen eventually. Andy Strickland of True Hockey says that is already being discussed.

Islanders, Devils and Hurricanes

OK, all isn't completely perfect for that Atlantic Division. These three teams are at a pretty big deficit when it comes to resources vs. the other teams in their division. It's going to be tough sledding for these teams to get into the playoffs with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers and Capitals around. This is probably akin to the Group of Death that you always hear about in the soccer World Cup.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:26 pm
 

Realignment winners and losers

Detroit should still be in the East with other original 6 members, but this is better than nothing.  I will be great for Red Wing fans to see each eastern team and original 6 member come to Joe Louis Arena at least once a year. 



Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:04 pm
 

Realignment winners and losers

This format works really well for avoiding time zone changes, as Stubits points out. It is a raw deal travel-wise for the Florida teams, but at least they're moving north rather than west for conference games. As for the Islanders, Devils, and Hurricanes, it may seem like a competitive imbalance now, but what goes up often comes down. Philly, Pittsburgh, New York, and Washington won't all play at a high level forever. This happens all the time in professional sports, where certain divisions are super tough for a few years, and relatively weak the next few.



Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Realignment winners and losers

.......The Devils have played and competed in the best overall division in hockey for 25+ years.   Their Resources haven't changed.  They have a new Arena and the Guy who owns WENDY's wants a peice of the action.  The Hurricanes and Islanders? Yes.  The Devils?  Not so sure they belong in that group.  Then again.............



Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Realignment winners and losers

Yeah, feel bad for you Carolina fans. You can blame Jeremy Jacobs for being a whining B because he didn't want Pittsburgh to be put in a different conference than his team. It looks to me like that conference was created simply to put a lot of big market US teams together to try and get a big TV deal from a major network, and they needed to add Carolina to even the numbers out. It's actually really obvious that is what they did. How else do you explain the fact that the two small market Florida teams were basically just thrown into a conference with the old Northeast divison? I hate this new re-alignment. As a Leafs fan, I don't want to watch them play Florida and Tampa Bay six times a year.Why can't they just stick with the old two conference format and have two divisions in the West and three in the East? Scheduling would be difficult but it would be better than this maddness. 



Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:38 pm
 

Realignment winners and losers

I will never see the Hurricanes in another playoff game.  No way will they ever compete against the payrolls of the big city teams.  End of story for them.



Since: Nov 22, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:32 am
 

Realignment winners and losers

As a fan that has been for a while I think this is pretty good.  I would have loved to have the Maple Leafs instead of Dallas but that's OK.  We almost have the Norris back and that is what most hockey fans in the upper midwest wanted (at least the ones I've met).  For those that are already complaining about their conference is the hardest, etc.  Remember the Penguins plain old sucked not that long ago (Blackhawks weren't so awesome either).  Other than the Red Wings there aren't many teams with sustained excellence over the past 20 years.  Heck over the last 10 years.  What goes around comes around.  I remember when the old Norris Division was created in 1982.  A lot of people complained that Minnesota had an easier path to the Stanley Cup (assumed the NORTH Stars would stay good after a recent Cup visit).  Then this guy named Gretzky showed up and league balance was heavily shifted.  I could be very wrong but the Oilers seem to have better years in front of them again.



Since: Nov 22, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:31 am
 

Realignment winners and losers

As a fan that has been for a while I think this is pretty good.  I would have loved to have the Maple Leafs instead of Dallas but that's OK.  We almost have the Norris back and that is what most hockey fans in the upper midwest wanted (at least the ones I've met).  For those that are already complaining about their conference is the hardest, etc.  Remember the Penguins plain old sucked not that long ago (Blackhawks weren't so awesome either).  Other than the Red Wings there aren't many teams with sustained excellence over the past 20 years.  Heck over the last 10 years.  What goes around comes around.  I remember when the old Norris Division was created in 1982.  A lot of people complained that Minnesota had an easier path to the Stanley Cup (assumed the NORTH Stars would stay good after a recent Cup visit).  Then this guy named Gretzky showed up and league balance was heavily shifted.  I could be very wrong but the Oilers seem to have better years in front of them again.


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