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Other Realignment Options

USATSI_8288419_154224518_lowresThe NHL and NHLPA continue to discuss realignment for next season. It was mentioned yesterday that a proposed changed doesn’t need to be voted on by all players, just members of the NHLPA’s executive board.

The most recent leaked realignment scenario looks like:

Atlantic Central Mid-West Pacific
Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim
Columbus Buffalo Colorado Calgary
New Jersey Detroit Dallas Edmonton
NY Islanders Florida Minnesota Los Angeles
NY Rangers Montreal Nashville Phoenix
Philadelphia Ottawa St. Louis San Jose
Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Winnipeg Vancouver
Washington Toronto

Under this proposal the East would have 16 teams and the West would have 14. Some people have issues with one conference having a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs and the conference having a 57 percent chance. This look may also make future relocation and expansion planning a little more difficult.

Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News sees a few issues with the above proposal and suggests a couple other options that should be considered.

Atlantic Northeast Southeast Central Northwest Pacific
New Jersey Boston Carolina Chicago Calgary Anaheim
NY Islanders Buffalo Florida Detroit Edmonton Los Angeles
NY Rangers Montreal Nashville St. Louis Minnesota Phoenix
Philadelphia Ottawa Tampa Bay Columbus Vancouver San Jose
Pittsburgh Toronto Washington Dallas Winnipeg Colorado

The Red Wings and Blue Jackets won’t be happy, but they likely wouldn’t be happy if there was expansion in the East and they got pushed back to the West. This allows for the same playoff format as now and leaves the door open for a four division switch in the future.

A four division look:

Atlantic Northeast Central Western
Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim
Columbus Buffalo Dallas Calgary
New Jersey Detroit Florida Edmonton
NY Islanders Montreal Minnesota Los Angeles
NY Rangers Ottawa Nashville Phoenix
Philadelphia Pittsburgh St. Louis San Jose
Washington Toronto Tampa Bay Vancouver
Winnipeg Colorado

This alignment makes it easier for future relocation of the Coyotes or expansion to the East. There has been some suggestions that if there is a second Toronto team, they should be in the West to create a AL/NL dynamic, but it makes more sense to have them in both in the East.

Heika wonders about just having two conferences and no divisions. Play other conference twice for 30 games and your own conference three times. That totals 72 and have random games against 10 conference teams to make the 82 game schedule.

What about five divisions with six teams?

Atlantic Northeast Southeast Midwest Pacific
New Jersey Boston Carolina Chicago Anaheim
NY Islanders Buffalo Dallas Calgary Los Angeles
NY Rangers Detroit Florida Edmonton Phoenix
Philadelphia Montreal Columbus Minnesota San Jose
Pittsburgh Ottawa Nashville St. Louis Vancouver
Washington Toronto Tampa Bay Winnipeg Colorado

Play non-divisional teams twice for 48 games and within your division five times for 73 games. Shorten the regular season and expand the playoffs. The top two teams in each division get a bye. The next 12 teams go through a best of three to determine the next six. More playoff games make up for lost money of less regular season games.

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Mark is the NHL editor for Sports City and myNHLtraderumors.com. Lives north of Toronto in the snow-belt, not a big fan of snow. Despises lockouts.

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