Friday, December 22, 2006

The NHL's division shuffle

...the league is floating the idea of cutting its divisions down from six to four, sources confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday.

The massive overhaul, which features the Atlanta Thrashers and Columbus Blue Jackets switching conferences, was discussed Wednesday in New York when governors representing all six divisions met with commissioner Gary Bettman to try and find a solution to the ongoing schedule conflict.
Now here's a change I can support.

Moving to four divisions was something I'd talked about back in July, 2005, when it was first rumoured under discussion, although the division alignments I'd set out weren't as, let's say, creative as what the NHL's come up with. (I'd never imagined, for instance, putting Atlanta in the Western Conference.)

Here's a colour-coded look, based on this season's standings, at what the new division alignment would look like (with * indicating division leader):

Western Conference
  1. *Anaheim, 60 points
  2. *Nashville, 49
  3. San Jose, 48
  4. Atlanta, 46
  5. Detroit, 44
  6. Dallas, 44
  7. Edmonton 38
  8. Calgary, 37
  9. Minnesota, 36
  10. Colorado, 36
  11. Vancouver, 35
  12. Chicago, 33
  13. Los Angeles, 29
  14. Phoenix, 25
  15. St. Louis, 24
Eastern Conference
  1. *Buffalo, 52
  2. *N.Y. Rangers, 40
  3. Montreal, 47
  4. New Jersey, 39
  5. Carolina, 38
  6. N.Y. Islanders, 37
  7. Washington, 37
  8. Toronto, 37
  9. Boston, 36
  10. Pittsburgh, 36
  11. Ottawa, 35
  12. Tampa Bay, 34
  13. Florida, 32
  14. Columbus, 27
  15. Philadelphia, 20
There are two things having just four divisions fixes:

a) No more third-seeded division leader. The team with the third seed has generally had significantly fewer points than the top two, which leaves two of the conference's top teams facing each other in the first round in the No. 4 and 5 slots;

b) Balancing out the divisions. As it stands now, having divisions with three weak teams, such as the Central, gives the two stronger teams a much bigger advantage — and a near-lock on a playoff spot. Having just four divisions would eliminate this disparity.

UPDATE One problem I just realized about a four division system: With the divisions not being of equal size, you have to think it's only a matter of time before the NHL talks about 'evening them out.' Which means, of course, two new teams.

Time for another expansion-fee cash grab?


At 4:10 p.m., December 22, 2006, Blogger gercohen said...

or, ahem, two less

At 4:33 p.m., December 22, 2006, Anonymous Chris DeGroat @ The Checking Line said...

I know they haven't officially talked about it yet, but there is no question in my mind that they will make the decision to move to 32 teams before the end of this decade.

Anyway.... if they move to four divisions, they REALLY, REALLY have to go back to divisional playoffs. That was one of the things that made hockey great.

At 6:11 p.m., December 22, 2006, Anonymous Lammy said...

I can see it now... Buttman's master plan is one step closer to reality.

We'll see new franchises in Las Vegas and Oklahoma City.

Move the Canucks to Seattle, the Oilers to Portland, the Flames to Houston, the Leafs to Cincinnati, the Habs to Baltimore and the Sens will go to either Kansas City or Pittsburgh, depending on how things pan out in the next couple of years.

And ta-da! Buttman has his "NFL on ice".

At 8:09 p.m., December 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bah... I don't like it.

You can easily fix the "No more third-seeded division leader" problem by doing what the NBA did... make the weakest of the three division leaders be the 4th seed. Thus that team still gets home ice in the first round, and you avoid that high-powered 4th-5th seed matchup.

As for "Balancing out the divisions", you can more or less achieve that by simply reducing divisional games.

At 10:32 p.m., December 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea and but only if they returned to a divisional playoffs. Also I might shift a few teams around and swap some divisions to different conf.
Whales Conf
Div 1 (Rangers Habs Boston Sens Sabres Islander Devils)

Div 2 (Flyers Pens Caps Canes Preds Ning Panthers Thrashers)

Cambell Conf
Div 1 (Wings Leafs Blackhawks Blues
Jackets Stars Wild)

Div 2 (Ducks Flames Canucks Sharks Oilers Yotes Kings Avs)

Yes some rivalries are gone but lets face it Sens fans if your going to finally win Stanley don't you want to do it by ripping the hearts out of the Leafs in the Finals. Also let's create 2 divisions with 3 Original6 teams each (all of them in the same division would be overkill). That way there would be a greater chance of having O6 teams play each other in the playoffs.

Be creative

At 2:56 p.m., December 23, 2006, Blogger Tom L said...

See my post at SR here on that very subject of putting the Original 6 in two divisions.

Revisiting Realingment


At 10:11 a.m., December 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian Dunne in Eastern PA says...

As long as the two new teams are in Winnipeg & Quebec City, I'm all for it!

At 10:50 a.m., January 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a link to my suggestion for the re-vamping of the NHL.
Anyone know if the public can send in thoughts to the NHL?


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