NHL Planning Dramatic Division Realignment for 2012?

According to hockey writer Nick Cotsonika, the NHL is planning on a major realignment of teams which will go into effect at the beginning of the 2012/13 season. We all knew something like this had to happen because of the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg, but it appears the entire landscape of the league will look much different after this season. According to the Tweet, the NHL will use four time-zone based divisions, two will have eight teams, and the other two will have seven. This is an interesting idea, because each conference will only have two divisions as opposed to three, and will most likely end up with a change for the ridiculous rule where division winners are guaranteed the top spots in the standings, even when non division-winning teams have more points than them. To get further into detail would be a waste at this time.

Below is a list of groupings I have created just so we can get an idea of what this will look like. The east coast will look very different, with teams switching divisions, and some teams moving from the west, where they never belonged to begin with. You will notice that there are some problems, however, and you can see that there are three excess teams that do fit, but create problems.

East

Group One  (8): Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators

Group Two (6): Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators

West

Group One (7): Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche

Group Two (6): Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild

Excess Teams

East Coast: Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning

These groupings make the most sense, but I left out the Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers just because putting them in the East right now, where they obviously belong, would be overflowing not only that conference, but Group One as well, since they belong with the other Atlantic teams. You will notice that the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, and Predators move to the east, since they are technically eastern teams, being on that side of the Mississippi River, the dividing line of the US and “Gateway to the West”. The Panthers are one team that should relocate anyway, but the Lightning have had success where they are, and will not move—the same goes for the Hurricanes. Though it would be a dream come true if the NHL would shrink down to 28 teams, where they were before the last expansion, it is probably not going to happen. It is possible, however, to return to the nostalgic tradition of naming the divisions after former legendary hockey players, like it used to be in the early 1990’s (with Smyth, Patrick, etc). That was really special and unique to the league, and could orient newer fans with past history.

Overall, it will be tricky figuring this out, but I like the overall idea of time-zone based standings, which is what they are going for. Please, if anyone has any ideas on how to reshape the league further, leave a comment in the area below.

4 thoughts on “NHL Planning Dramatic Division Realignment for 2012?

  1. Jim Haggerty

    Greg,

    I see some benefit to going from six divisions to four, but unless the conferences are balanced with 15 teams each, it makes no sense. And as you note, this plan has three outlying teams–where do they fit in? I strongly believe Florida will relocate to Quebec as early as the 2012-13 season, and that will not help this proposed realignment.

    On a different note, on Saturday I visited the former Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, which is now a museum for the JFK assassination. I also visited the Grassy Knoll, where I met Robert Grodin, who was a technical consultant to Oliver Stone for the JFK movie. I bought a magazine from Mr. Grodin in which he lays out very convincing facts supporting a conspiracy. On the sixth floor of the museum the area near the window where Oswald supposedly shot JFK was preserved in flexiglass with the crime scene reenacted. What makes no sense is that the motorcade approached Oswald along Houston Street before turning let onto Elm Street before Oswald supposedly began shooting. There was a much clearer, direct head-on shot as the motorcade approached the building, so why were no shots fired from that vantage point until after the motorcade passed?

    If you have not visited the museum, I recommend you make it a point to get there. The whole experience was very powerful and the atmosphere inside the museum was funereal. But don’t visit during the summer, it was 95 degrees plus in Dallas over the weekend and it regularly goes over 100 degrees in July and August. I also suggest you read up on Mr. Grodin’s materials if you have not already done so.

    1. I would love to get down there to see it. Was in San Antonio back in 2007 but I did not have enough time to get to Dallas. If you’ve seen the movie “JFK”, the reason why he was not shot coming down Houston street is in case the assassin missed, the car could speed away. But once he turns onto Elm, he enters the “triangulation of crossfire” as they put it, where they was no way they could miss.

  2. whiskymcclinton

    I think we should bring back the Campbell and Wales Conference names. It brings more meaning to the playoff trophies for each conference, and it lessens how unbalanced the league is from an East-West perspective.

    Here’s my idea for a reconfig of the divisions (Moves have a *.):

    Pacific Division:
    Vancouver*
    San Jose
    LA
    Anaheim
    Phoenix

    -Vancouver is on the Pacific Ocean, put it in the Pacific Division.

    NorthWest Division:
    Edmonton
    Calgary
    Colorado
    Winnipeg*
    Minnesota

    -Not all the Western Canadian teams should be lumped together. That was a problem for the Jets last time.

    Central Division:
    Dallas*
    St. Louis
    Chicago
    Nashville
    Columbus

    -I always thought Dallas should be a rival of Nashville.

    SouthEast Division:
    Florida
    Tampa Bay
    Carolina
    Washington
    Pittsburgh*

    -Get more Crosby vs. Ovechkin games.

    NorthEast Division:
    Detroit*
    Toronto
    Ottawa
    Montreal
    Buffalo

    -Detroit will start selling out, as now Leafs fans will have a place to go other than Buffalo.

    Atlantic Division:
    Boston*
    NY I
    NY R
    New Jersey
    Philadelphia

    -Boston is the Easternmost team in the league. Put team in the Atlantic division. As well, a Boston vs. Philadelphia rivalry would be great. They deserve each other.

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