My NHL Re-Alignment Proposal

Written By:  •  Monday, December 5, 2011

With the National Hockey League set to vote on a new re-alignment for the 2012-13 season, I figured I’d take this opportunity to chime in with my two cents on what I’d like to see the league do.

So far the rumours I’m hearing sound promising, a four-conference or division split of 7-8 teams per — intra-conference playoffs for the first two rounds and a re-seed of the remaining four clubs for the semis.  Call it a conference, call it a division, whatever you want as long as this is the playoff format I support it 100%.

The biggest problem when the NHL switched to the conference playoff system for 1993-94 was the playoff pool became too large, I don’t mean the amount of teams that qualify – that remained the same – I mean the pool of potential playoff matchups/opponents became too large.  Pre-1994 a team could face only 1 of 4 other teams through the first two-rounds of the playoffs, rivalries were created quickly and fiercely.  The switch in 1994 changed the potential playoff partners from 4 to what is now 14 after a few rounds of expansion since then.  The odds of getting the same playoff partner over multiple seasons had diminished considerably.

The elimination of divisions tied to conferences with re-seeding following round two opens the doors for some interesting Stanley Cup final partners, for example Montreal could face New York, or Chicago could face Vancouver, in seasons past those matchups were impossible as those two pairs belonged to the same conference although different divisions.  With this set-up as long as the teams aren’t in the same division they could now potentially meet in the Stanley Cup.

That’s the playoff format rumoured, that’s the same playoff format I’m running with in my plan.

As for the league structure, I steered things a little differently…

You get a Norris/Adams hybrid in the Eastern Conference where five of the six Original Six franchises are now housed.

In the Atlantic Conference you get a return of the Patrick Division plus Columbus.

In the Western Conference you have four Canadian clubs merged with three hockey-mad U.S. markets – imagine the rivalries during those playoff rounds.

I do see some problems, namely travel, especially in the Southern Conference who gets a bit of a raw deal in this proposal in that it’s clubs cover four different time zones, a problem Columbus and Detroit had faced for many seasons, but my main focus here was retaining rivalries.

But this setup guarantees at least one southern based club will reach the final four every season (and 4 in the playoffs, 2 in the second round), hopefully growing the interest those markets.

A hypothetical post-season, I’ll rank and pick winners randomly

Round One

South Semis
Anaheim vs. Phoenix
Carolina vs. Dallas

East Semis
Boston vs. Detroit
Montreal vs. Chicago

West Semis
Calgary vs. Vancouver
Edmonton vs. Minnesota

Atlantic Semis
Philadelphia vs. New York
New Jersey vs. Pittsburgh

Round Two
South Final: Anaheim vs. Dallas
East Final: Detroit vs. Chicago
West Final: Calgary vs. Minnesota
Atlantic Final: Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

Round Three “Final Four”
Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
Calgary vs. Dallas

Winners meet in the final

Is it crazy? Conceivable? Share your thoughts and proposals.



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Chris Creamer

Chris Creamer is the founder of SportsLogos.Net and has been maintaining it since June 1997. You can follow him on Twitter at @sportslogosnet or contact him via email at ccreamer@sportslogos.net

  • Ed

    This is the best one yet. I like it Chris

  • TrickRiderr

    I’d probably switch San Jose with Dallas and/or Phoenix, but I like the proposal. That Southern Conference does present a problem, though.

  • I like everything here except for travel purposes I think Boston and Columbus could switch places. Yet, that would eliminate the possibility of a BOS-MTL playoff match and that’s no good. In the end, Columbus may just have to suck it up and wait for the next re-alignment just like Detroit has done for the past 10 or so years.

    I do like the idea however that was brought up on HNIC on Saturday, that once you get to the final 4 in the playoffs then the teams get reseeded 1v4 2v3 regardless of conference.

  • Schroeds

    I think Columbus should be in the East and Boston in the Atlantic.

  • JustinF

    My two cents: Switch Bruins and Pens. The only reason is that Pittsburgh doesn’t touch the coast while Boston does.

  • Anonymous

    How about just switching the Bruins and the Penguins?

  • Leslie Dicksock

    I hope this is a joke. You want to put a team on the East Coast in the same division as teams in the west coast? That would be a 5 hour flight for inter-conference play. On top of that, home-and-homes? Come on.

  • Yeah, how is Pittsburgh more “Atlantic” than Montreal?

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… so I’d keep the current alignment and just flip-flop Nashville and Winnipeg.

  • GeoTheo

    Four divisions, three of which have eight teams, the last has six teams. All divisions are based on time zones. The Eastern Time Zone has two divisions, the Northeast and Atlantic, The Central Times Zone is the Central Division, and the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones make the Western Division.

    Northeast (8): Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto
    Atlantic (8): Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington
    Central (6): Chicago, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
    Western (8): Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

  • Garrett Meyer

    I don’t think the southern conference is realistic because it contains three time zones. That puts these teams at a huge disadvantage.

  • Yeah

    I would do it like this.
    Eastern Conference:
    (Northeast)
    1. Boston Bruins, 2. Buffalo Sabers, 3.Toronto Maple Leafs, 4. Montreal Canadiens, 5. Ottawa Sentors.
    (Atlantic)
    1.Pittsburgh, 2.NY Rangers, 3.NY Islanders, 4.Philly, 5.NJ
    (Southeast)
    1.Carolina Hurricanes, 2.)Tampa bay, 3.) Nashville, 4.) Washington, 5.)Florida

    Western Conference:
    (Pacific)
    Same
    (Northwest)
    Same
    (Central)
    Detroit, Minnesota, Winnipeg, St. Louis, & Columbus

  • Zach

    I like how that works! I wouldn’t mind having that for the Canucks, either

  • Jack

    I like it a lot, but I still think it would be awesome to have all orig. 6 teams in one division

  • skater325

    that’s a nice lineup, chris. i like it.

  • Matt J.

    I dunno, IMO a Southern Conference with all sunbelt teams would work about as well as a Northern Conference with all Canadian teams; with Anaheim & LA facing Florida & Tampa Bay 6 or 8 times a year, I think the travel would just be too much on the teams.

    But this 4-conference thing would make for an interesting All-Star Game if it ever returned to the conference format, like a 2 day, 4-All Star Team tournament or something…

  • F19

    Not bad. The Southern conference is pretty stretched out, but the NHL is not even close to being evenly dispersed across North America so there are going to be some oddball teams in any conference setup.

    If the NHL is really wants to shake it up, something I’d like to see is this: 2 conferences, no divisions. 15 teams per conference obviously. You play 2 home/2 away vs. every team in your conference for 56 games. Then 1 home/1 away vs. the other conference for another 30 games. That’s an 86 game regular season, only adds 4 games but is a much more balanced approach. Top 8 teams from each conference make the playoffs. Re-seed after each round. Shorten 1st round to 5 games to make up for the additional regular season games.

    I drew up the conferences based on pure geography. The 15 western most teams are in the west, everyone else in the east.

    EAST: Florida, Tampa, Carolina, Columbus, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, NYI, NYR, Boston, Buffalo, Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, New Jersey

    WEST: Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota, Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado, Dallas, Phoenix, LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Winnipeg, Edmonton

  • Aaron

    I like this setup. Five of the original six teams in one division. Very smart. The only thing I don’t care for is the separation of the California teams and Columbus is not in the Atlantic. Here are some adjustments I’d make, especially if and when the NHL returns to Quebec and possible expansion or relocation of one or two teams….

    Atlantic Conference, swap Columbus with Quebec, especially when Phoenix has to relocate. I know Ohio isn’t technically in the south, but it’s on the way down.

    Portland and potentially Seattle would almost certainly be in the Western Conference, in which case San Jose would trade places.

    I would still do the same playoff format as is, especially if Montreal and Quebec are in different divisions. I would probably give the conferences different names, but I’m not sure what yet.

    Atlantic

    Quebec, New Jersey, New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, (Hamilton or Hartford or Halifax)

    Western

    Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Colorado, Dallas

    Eastern

    Buffalo, Boston, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Ottawa, St. Louis, Montreal, Minnesota

    Southern

    Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Nashville, Columbus, Florida

    I’m only excluding Phoenix because of the uncertaintly with that franchise. Hamilton, Quebec, Portland, Seattle and Hartford have been talking about potentially getting an NHL team. Halifax may be a long shot at best. If it’s Hamilton, they’ll have to be some way to put them in the same division as Toronto and Buffalo. Minnesota would rekindle that three-way Norris Division rivalry with Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago. Different team, I know but you get the idea.

    Perhaps the BOG’s should be reading this idea plus the one originally posted.

  • Shark

    Would keep it more regional…

    E – BOS, MTL, NJ, NYI, NYR, PIT, PHI (7)
    C – BUF, CHI, CLB, DET, MIN, OTT, TOR, WIN (8)
    S – CAR, DAL, FLA, NSH, STL, TB, WSH (7)
    W – ANA, CAL, COL, EDM, LA, PHX, SJ, VAN (8)

    Splits original six, three and three. All but South can launch a Canadian winner of the division.

  • Matt Marczel

    I would love for the NHL dose adopt the 4 division system and divisional playoffs with hopes of a not too distant future expansion to 32 teams. (32 = four 8 team divisions) If they do go the 4 division route, they should ditch geographical division and/or coference names altogether and go back to the pre Bettman era names. This would eliminate any confusion.

  • John B

    Not the worst I’ve seen, though the geographical concerns are an issue for me. I’d do a lot of what GeoTheo suggested, with a couple differences and contingencies for teams like the Islanders or Panthers moving.

    Northeast (7)
    Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Columbus, Pittsburgh

    Atlantic (8)
    New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida

    Central (7)
    Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Winnipeg

    Western (8)
    Colorado, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim

    If Islanders or Panthers move to Quebec City or Hamilton, move Penguins to Atlantic Division and relocated team to Northeast Division.

    If Islanders or Panthers move to Kansas City, move Penguins to Atlantic Division, Red Wings to Northeast Division, and relocated team to Central Division.

  • Nick Spiteri

    Southern
    Washington
    Florida
    Tampa Bay
    Carolina
    Nashville
    Dallas
    Pittsburgh
    Philadelphia

    Western
    Anaheim
    Los Angeles
    San Jose
    Phoenix
    Vancouver
    Calgary
    Edmonton
    Colorado

    Central
    Detroit
    Chicago
    St Louis
    Columbus
    Minnesota
    Winnipeg
    Toronto

    Atlantic
    New York R
    New York I
    New Jersey
    Boston
    Buffalo
    Montreal
    Ottawa

  • Ryan Fields

    I like this proposal but the one thing everyone seems to be neglecting is the AMOUNT of teams that make the post-season run for the Stanley Cup. 16 teams make the playoffs, which hasn’t changed since 1979-80 when there were 21 teams in the league. Used to be that only 5 sat out, now you have 14 teams or nearly 1/2 the entire league not qualifying for the playoffs. Something needs to be done to address that situation. I think 20, 22 or 24 teams should qualify.

  • Ryan

    one problem, florida panthers play literally hundreds of miles close to the atlantic than the blue jackets….. i dont like any of this realignment

  • Erik

    Should switch Bruins into Atlantic. And switch out Columbus

  • Dave

    I’m a Kings fan and god damn your Southern Conference sucks! But I love your format!

    WESTERN
    Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

    CENTRAL
    Columbus, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg

    NORTHEAST
    Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto

    SOUTHEAST
    Carolina, Florida, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

  • Kris

    Here’s what I’d like to see:
    EASTERN
    Atlantic- Rangers, Isles, Bruins, Devils, Caps, Canes, Bolts, Panthers
    Northeast- Leafs, Habs, Sens, Sabres, Jackets, Pens, Flyers
    WESTERN
    Central- Wings, Hawks, Blues, Preds, Jets, Wild, Stars
    West- Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Avs, Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Coyotes

  • Julian Solano

    I like it just the way it is. Who cares if the Jackets are farther away from the ocean than the Panthers? Plus why would you put the Sharks in the Southern? They are like 50 miles from the Pacifica ocean and by no means in the South. However, Bruins and Pens could be switched.

  • NBitterman

    Eastern Conference

    Southeast
    Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Nashville, Washington

    Atlantic
    New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Boston, Philly

    Northeast
    Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh

    Western Conference

    Pacific
    Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Vancouver,

    Northwest
    Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Colorado, Minnesota

    Central
    Detroit, Columbus, Dallas, Chicago, St. Louis

  • NBitterman

    Add Phoenix to the Pacific

  • Aaron

    Here are my two realignment proposals…

    Renaming the Conferences…

    Wales Conference

    Northeast- Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, Ottawa, Quebec

    Atlantic- New York, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

    Southeast- Tampa Bay, Washington, Florida, Carolina, Columbus

    Campbell

    Central- Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota

    Northwest- Dallas, Colorado, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary

    Pacific- Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose

    or

    Renaming the conferences and divisions…

    Wales

    Adams Division- Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Ottawa, Hamilton

    Patrick- New York, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina

    Campbell

    Norris- Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Nashville, Dallas, Colorado

    Smythe- Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, L.A., San Jose, Anaheim, Portland, Seattle

    The playoff format would still be the same as it currently is.

    Note: I know what you’re thinking where is Florida and Phoenix?

    Phoenix, we all know there’s uncertainty and Florida, it all depends on how they do in a few years.

  • Martin

    Phoenix will be in the east next year when they are known as the NORDIQUES!

  • Douglas

    terrible idea with the southern conference, which throws a wrench in the entire thing. Its ridiculous to expect teams in the same division/conference to constantly play games with 3 hours difference, or that varied of a time difference (sometimes it will just be 2 hours, which is still ridiculous).

  • Grahon

    Perfect. If you were to make three 7 team conferences and one 9 team I think it would make more sense. Maybe Pacific, Western, Eastern, and Atlantic Conferences?

  • Gray

    If you were to divide them up like that you’d also have to balance the playoff spots. All those pathetic teams in the Southern Conference wouldn’t deserve more than one playoff spot, and the Eastern Conference need more spots added.

  • Clark

    Interesting. Obviously it’s all of the travel that they are going away from though. You might like mine better:

    West: Vancouver, Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, San Jose, Los Angeles, Phoenix (close proximity, lots of rivalries intact)

    North: Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota (three US cities might as well be Canadian ones anyways, and Detroit can create rivalries with anyone)

    Central: St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, Nashvile, Carolina, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Florida (only problem is hanging FL/TB out to dry a bit money-wise)

    And for the beast…

    Atlantic: Boston, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington (would there be more fights on the ice or in the stands?)

    Give me a follow on twitter @StatsClark

  • I think the NHL did it better, sorry Chris.

    You can’t continue to have Minne and now Winne going WAYY out west.

    They got it as close to right as possible.

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

    Well…oooh. maybe not out east. What a mess.

  • Aaron

    This isn’t bad. But now the million dollar question, how to potentially get Quebec into the picture? If the Coyotes moved to either Portland or Seattle, staying in that division would be easy. Two Florida teams in the same conference as Boston, Buffalo, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa? Not a bad idea, but I think they would’ve been better with either of the two ideas I proposed. Mind you, if Florida ever relocated to Quebec or maybe Hamilton, that wouldn’t be much of an issue. If it’s potentially Houston or Kansas City or dare I say it Milwaukee, they’d just have to swap conferences with Columbus. Tampa Bay and Florida (depending how they do in a few years) probably should be in the same conference as Carolina for geographical purposes. Or if Phoenix moves to Quebec and Florida moves to Seattle or Portland, they could just swap conferences.
    Well, you get the picture.

  • Chris J.

    Just flip flop Columbus and Boston and book a flight to Pebble Beach and bam! Best one yet

  • Chris J.

    I’ll take that back, a Southeastern conference is impossible, three time zones represent the central, somewhat geographically incorrect, and travel wise would be poor.

  • GKennedy

    I love the eastern conference, with 5 or the 6 original six teams there are and will be some great rivalries

  • Brian Rightley

    Add Hartford and Quebec into the other conference that have 7 teams. I know it won’t happen since they don’t want to add more teams, but itll be cool. Thanks for website with logos chris!

  • Aaron

    If expansion/relocation comes to the NHL, realignment will have to happen again. Maybe not as radical as it is right now.

    With the new system, here is what the NHL could look like…

    One proposal with two relocations/expansion…
    Conference A

    L.A., Anaheim, San Jose, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Colorado

    Conference B

    Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas, Houston, Nashville

    Conference C

    Montreal, Boston, Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Columbus

    Conference D

    New York, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina

    Second Proposal with one relocation/expansion

    Conference A

    Check the first one

    Conference B

    Like the first one, only with Columbus

    Conference C

    Same idea, but with Florida, Tampa Bay, and Quebec

    Conference D

    Same as proposed by the NHL

  • Luke Jacobson

    I can’t say I like your proposal Chris.

    Minnesota does NOT belong in the western conference. Only one conference rival (Winnipeg) in the same timezone?

    And the Southern Conference would never pass either as it consists of teams in three different timezones. The NHL is not the NFL where you only play one game/week.

    Obviously I am biased as a Minnesota fan, but it bothers me when so many people think that Minnesota “fits” into the west and/or northwest when they are much closer to teams like Chicago, St. Louis Detroit and Winnipeg. I remember the days of the North Stars very well in the old Norris Division with some great rivals in Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.

    Minnesota is one of the biggest winners in the new realignment and the NHL got it right! Can’t wait for the 2012-2013 season to begin.

  • Aaron

    Two more possibilities

    Proposal 3 same as Proposal 1, but Conference B would include either Milwaukee or Kansas City swapping with Columbus going to Conference C. Probably KC because they have a new arena.

    Proposal 4 same as Proposal 2, only Conference C would include both Quebec and Hamilton and Tampa Bay would be in Conference D.

  • Greg

    I actually like the real alignment that was voted on more (as a Leafs fan it makes for an easier division)

    Als with the real realignment it allows for Phoenix to eventually move to Quebec City

  • Ed

    LOVE to see the Habs come to St. Louis multiple times a year!

  • This is so inaccurate why put Detroit st. Louis and Chicago in the eastern conference put them in the west conference and let it sit. each teams plays another team in a .different conference 3 times at home, away, home, and in the conference each teams plays a diffrent team in the conference 6 times
    -NHL Insider

  • Dave

    Why anyone is bringing up teams that don’t even exist is beyond me. By far the best format is by NBitterman (I would only switch Dallas and Minnesota though). It geographically makes sense and it keeps the current playoff structure the same. I like having the different playoff match ups every year and it allows some surprise teams. With the new system, I just see a conference getting 4 dominate teams and the other 3 or 4 teams never have a chance to crack the playoffs and you get really good teams that face each other too early in the playoffs.

  • Blake

    The travel schedule would be brutal for the Southern Conference, especially for Dallas and Nashville.

  • James

    So how is the all-star game going to workout?
    A 4 conference tournament?

  • That is a really good question : How is the all-star game going to work? I personally love the idea of a mini-tournament of all the best players in the leagues. Anyways I love your proposal. And personally I liked it better when there was a rivalry going on however I felt like some of the teams were being held back by the fact that each year they had to play the same team. Just my thoughts.

  • Aaron

    It only seems like certain teams are being put there that don’t exist, but we all know there are certain teams (Phoenix, Florida) who struggling. The non-NHL cities mentioned (Portland, Seattle, Quebec, Hamilton, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Houston) all seem to potentially house an NHL team.

  • Cedric Baker

    This realignment would be the perfect opportunity to restore the original conference and division names, creating some two new ones to create three five team divisions. My model would look like this:

    Prince of Wales Conference (East)

    Adams Division (Northeast)
    Boston
    Buffalo
    Montreal
    Ottawa
    Toronto

    Patrick Division (Atlantic)
    Long Island
    New Jersey
    New York
    Philadelphia
    Washington

    Francis Division (Southeast)
    Carolina
    Dallas
    Florida
    Nashville
    Tampa Bay

    Clarence Campbell Conference (West)

    Smythe Division (Northwest)
    Calgary
    Edmonton
    Minnesota
    Vancouver
    Winnipeg

    Norris Divison (Midwest)
    Chicago
    Columbus
    Detroit
    Pittsburgh
    St Louis

    Dionne Division (Southwest)
    Anaheim
    Colorado
    Los Angeles
    Phoenix
    San Jose

    The allstar game returns to an East vs West format. The three division winners and a fourth seed, a virtual wild card, from each conference would qualify for the playoffs.

  • Ryan Hubble

    Northeast:
    Boston
    Buffalo
    Montreal
    New Jersey
    NY Islanders
    NY Rangers
    Ottawa
    Toronto

    Southeast:
    Carolina
    Columbus
    Florida
    Philadelphia
    Pittsburgh
    Tampa Bay
    Washington

    Central:
    Chicago
    Dallas
    Detroit
    Minnesota
    Nashville
    St. Louis
    Winnipeg

    West:
    Anaheim
    Calgary
    Colorado
    Edmonton
    Los Angeles
    Phoenix
    San Jose
    Vancouver

  • Ryan Hubble

    Playoffs:

    Round 1:
    Northeast 1 vs. Southeast 4
    Northeast 2 vs. Southeast 3
    Northeast 3 vs. Southeast 2
    Northeast 4 vs. Southeast 1
    Central 1 vs. West 4
    Central 2 vs. West 3
    Central 3 vs. West 2
    Central 4 vs. West 1

    and so forth

  • Aaron

    ATTN: Ryan Hubble

    I like your idea, but with that format I would either rename the two divisions or conferences Adams/Patrick or Northeast/Atlantic. In other words, just fix them up as follows…

    Northeast (Adams)

    Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto, Columbus, Ottawa, Quebec

    Atlantic (Patrick)

    Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, New York, New Jersey, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida

    The other division/conference proposals are fine.

  • Stone

    Hockey ‘purist’ (entitleist) much? lol.

  • Victor Perez

    Here’s my proposal. This can’t be beat.

    AMERICAN CONFERENCE

    EASTERN
    Boston
    Buffalo
    Montreal
    New Jersey
    New York I.
    New York R.
    Ottawa
    Philadelphia

    SOUTHERN
    Carolina
    Dallas
    Florida
    Kansas City (expansion)
    Nashville
    St. Louis
    Tampa Bay
    Washington

    NATIONAL CONFERENCE

    CENTRAL
    Chicago
    Columbus
    Detroit
    Minnesota
    Pittsburgh
    Toronto Legacy (expansion)
    Toronto M.L.
    Winnipeg

    WESTERN
    Anaheim
    Calgary
    Colorado
    Edmonton
    Los Angeles
    Phoenix
    San Jose
    Vancouver

  • Rich

    How about this?
    East
    SE-FLA, TBL, CAR, WSH, CBJ
    NE-BOS, MTL, OTT, TOR, BUF
    ATL-PIT, PHI, NYI, NYR, NJD
    West
    Central/Midwest-DET, NSH, CHI, STL, MIN
    SW-DAL, PHX, ANA, LAK, SJS
    Pacific/NW-VAN, EDM, CAL, COL, WPG

    Someone had an idea for going back to Smythe/Patrick/Wales, etc, etc…I kinda liked that idea. ON the other hand, East/West, Atlantic/Northwest is a lot easier to remember

  • Blitz

    It’s a nice thought, however having T-Bay & Anaheim in the same conference is a jet-lag nightmare… not to mention the TV time zone differences… gotta be north-south unfortunately

  • Dave

    I understand they are hockey markets and Florida, Phoenix, Dallas etc. are struggling, but the reality is none of this relocation or expansion isn’t happening for the upcoming season. So really its all just fantasy some of these realignment scenarios. The more I look at the one that got approved by the NHL, the more I’m okay with it. I like the new regular season structure with everyone playing each other twice, but I’m not liking the playoff scenario they are proposing. The way it is laid out for next season does give them room to relocate a team out west to the east quite easily.

  • Luis Santiago

    Chris,
    Love the website, as I am not only a huge sports buff, but a lover of logos as I am practicing designer/artist. Here goes my realignment proposal. Keep in mind the return of the Campbell and Wales Conferences, with three divisions in each. I modeled my proposal after Major League Baseball with its three divisions, and the NFL, with its overall interleague play. I know I will get hammered for ruining rivalries, but, what the hell.

    CAMPBELL CONFERENCE

    EAST DIVISION:
    Boston Bruins
    New Jersey Devils
    New York Rangers
    Philadelphia Flyers
    Tampa Bay Lightning

    CENTRAL DIVISION:
    Buffalo Sabres
    Columbus Blue Jackets
    Minnesota Wild
    Ottawa Senators
    Toronto Maple Leafs

    WEST DIVISION:
    Anaheim Ducks
    Dallas Stars
    Edmonton Oilers
    Phoenix Coyotes
    Winnipeg Jets

    WALES CONFERENCE

    EAST DIVISION:
    Carolina Hurricanes
    Florida Panthers
    New York Islanders
    Pittsburgh Penguins
    Washington Capitals

    CENTRAL DIVISION:
    Chicago Blackhawks
    Detroit Red Wings
    Montreal Canadians
    Nashville Predators
    St. Louis Blues

    WEST DIVISION:
    Calgary Flames
    Colorado Avalanche
    Los Angeles Kings
    San Jose Sharks
    Vancouver Canucks

  • Aaron

    Since there’s no expansion on the horizon as of yet, here is my re-alignment proposal for next season…

    Conference A

    Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado

    Conference B

    Same as originally proposed by the NHL.

    Conference C

    Montreal, Quebec, Boston, Toronto, Buffalo, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida

    Conference D

    Same as proposed by the NHL.

    Reason for proposing it this way,

    1> It’s based on the Phoenix situation and the fact that Quebec City wants back in the NHL.

    2> This way it would leave two sides with an 7/8 team format which seems to make sense right now.

  • Gordon Long

    I think they’ll wait some time before trying to expand with new franchises, and merely allow some relocations. Even though the league brags about its stability during the Original Six era, in reality, for about half of that era, the league was hanging on. It needed to be stable before they could think about adding franchises, but it’s been rather a rather haphazard process ever since the Second Six joined the league. The two-a-year process of the early 70s was a good idea, but because they were also fighting the WHA for two of those expansions, the best laid plans fell apart…

    For the most part, I like your bold plan for realignment, especially the Southern Conference. To pull that one off, the league would have to line the schedule up like the NBA sometimes does with trips through the Texas Triangle (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) or the California Four (Golden State, Sacramento, Los Angeles x2). In fact, it would seem that they should build the league’s schedule around the Southern Conference. since Bettman is so eager to grow the new markets of the Sunbelt. Start the travelers in South Florida and hop westward to the Pacific. Eight games in fifteen days–one tenth of the season–for the Atlantic, Eastern, and Western teams.

    The only thing I don’t like from your plan, and agree with others, is to swap out Boston and Columbus.

    I have four plans of my own. The first one is a ‘simple’ realignment.

    National Hockey League–Two conference/Six division format

    Eastern Conference

    Atlantic Division: Boston, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers
    Retains three of the Original 6; keeps Boston-Montreal, Boston-New York, and NJ-NYI-NYR rivalries red-hot.

    Capitol Division:
    Buffalo, Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
    Has three capitols–current US in Washington and former US in Philly, plus state of Ohio in Columbus; retains Philly-Pitt, Philly-Wash, and Buff-Pitt rivalries, enhances Col-Pitt rivalry.

    Southern Division: Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Nashville,
    Tampa Bay
    The most spread of the East divisions, but everyone is in one of Bettman’s prize markets; will help Nashville-Carolina rivalry grow.

    Western Conference

    Northern Division: Chicago, Detroit, Ottawa, St. Louis,
    Toronto
    Natural counterpart to the Southern Division; big division; has the other three of the Original 6, reuniting Toronto with their fellow western teams Chicago and Detroit while maintaining Toronto-Ottawa and Chicago-St. Louis rivalries.

    Northwest Division: Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, Vancouver, Winnipeg.
    Restores the classic Western Canada rivalries dating back to the 1920s (before the NHL became sole possessor for the Stanley Cup), as well as the Minn-Winn rivalry.

    Southwest Division: Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose.
    These cities have been regional rivals since the Sixties in all the sports, and Southern Cal-Bay Area is more than 100 years old.

    Three more proposals coming up…

  • Gordon Long

    Proposal #2, based on what the league is moving to.

    National Hockey League–Four conference format
    Northeast Conference: Boston, Montreal, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto
    Continues Boston-Montreal, Boston-New York, Ottawa-Toronto, and Montreal-Toronto rivalries. Admittedly breaks up the NYI-NYR-NJ rivaly in the expectation that a Coyotes shift to Toronto, Hamilton, or Quebec is most likely (or even Rochester, LOL).

    Southeast Conference: Carolina, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington.
    Retains existing Southeast rivalries plus adds the long-overdue Carolina-Nashville one, keeps Phil-Pitt and Phil-Wash, and enhances NJ-Phil but because NJ is in the NY area will draw NYI/NYR fans to see Ovechkin and Crosby.

    Central Conference: Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg.
    Restores Minn-Winn rivalry; retains Minn-StL, Chi-StL, Chi-Det, Dall-Colo, Det-Colu rivalries.

    Western Conference: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.
    Retains all existing rivalries. Allows a Phoenix franchise shift to Portland, San Francisco/Oakland, San Diego, or Salt Lake City without altering league structure.

    In the event of a Coyotes shift to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Kansas City, or Houston, Colorado can trade divisions with the Coyotes franchise easily.

    I’m one of those who prefers geographic names to the named-for divisions/conferences. I paid attention to the NBA first…and so the geographically-named divisions feel right. (You can’t imagine how incredibly negative I feel towards the Big Ten’s Legends and Leaders divisions!!!) However, I do appreciate the historical appreciations that the NHL has towards its founders. To that end, I would forge trophies for the six classic names. The divisional playoff winner in the Central Conference gets the Norris trophy, the divisional playoff winner in the Western Conference gets the Smythe trophy, and the semifinal playoff winner between the Central and Western Conferences gets the Campbell Cup. Similarly, the Northeast winner gets the Adams trophy and the Atlantic winner gets the Patrick trophy, while the Northeast-vs.-Atlantic champion gets the Wales Cup.

  • Gordon Long

    Proposal #3: Based on a recommendation, probably sarcastic, I saw on Yahoo responses to the realignment by coming up with a three-conference proposal!

    National Hockey League–Three conference/Six division format

    American Hockey Conference
    Eastern Division: Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, New York Islanders, Washington.
    Western Division: Anaheim, Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Minnesota.

    Eight of these places spent varying amounts of time in the AFL of the 1960s, six are in the American League, and eight were in the ABA. Has one of the Original Six.

    Canadian Hockey Conference
    Eastern Division: Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Toronto.
    Western Division: Calgary, Columbus, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

    The only way to divide the league evenly into three conferences was to add three US teams to the Canadian teams. There is a precedent for this when the NFL merged with the AFL, three NFL teams joined the AFL teams in the new AFC. Previously, when the NFL absorbed three teams from the AAFC, it briefly used American and National conferences before reverting to Eastern and Western divisions. The WHA used East, West, and Canadian divisions in the 1974-75 and 75-76 seasons. And most importantly, the NHL had American and Canadian divisions (the latter of which had 4 Canadian teams and the NY Americans, which were formerly the Hamilton Tigers, and in one season, the St. Louis Eagles, formerly the Ottawa Senators) from 1926-27 through 1937-38, after which time the Montreal Maroons folded and reduced the league to a single seven-team division. New Jersey was placed here as it was the third New York-area team, and Columbus and Nashville have not had substantial major league existences in any sports until the 1990s. Has two of the Original Six.

    National Hockey Conference
    Eastern Division: Detroit, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay.
    Western Division: Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Jose.

    Extensive presences for these squads in the NFL/NFC, the NL, and the NBA (allowing for San Jose to represent San Francisco). Has three of the Original Six. Retains important rivalries for Phil-Pitt, Chi-Det, NY-LA (cooled since Gretzky retired), Chi-StL, LA-SJ, LA-Phnx.

    One more proposal coming up!

  • Gordon Long

    The playoff structure in the three-conference league: Six division winners, ten at-large teams. At-larges #7 and 8 have home-ice advantage in the first round. Re-seed playoffs after every round.

    Make all best of seven series follow the NBA Finals format of 2-3-2: 2 games in the city with home ice advantage, up to three if necessary in the other city, and then up to 2 more if necessary in the home-ice winner’s city. This idea is to decrease the travel that follows in the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 that the NBA uses in earlier rounds, and that the NHL uses in all rounds. The 2-3-2 is adapted originally from baseball, who used it first in the World Series, then added it to the League Championship Series and then to the Divisional Playoff Round.

  • Gordon Long

    My final proposal is a variant of my #2 and #3 realignments.

    National Hockey League–Four conference format

    American Hockey Conference: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Colorado, Dallas, New York Islanders, Washington Capitols.
    Key rivalries: Boston-New York, Colorado-Dallas.

    Canadian Hockey Conference: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.
    Key rivalries: All, but especially Calg-Edm, Mont-Tor, Ott-Tor, Calg-Winn.

    National Hockey Conference: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis.
    Key rivalries: Chi-Det, LA-NY, NY-Phil, LA-Phnx, Chi-StL, Phil-Pitt.

    World Hockey Conference: Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, San Jose, Tampa Bay.
    Key rivalries: Carolina-Nashville, Flo-TB.

    The comments from above about American or National Conference cities still apply. This has the beauty of locking the Canadian teams into one division (many people have accused Bettman of wanting just that!)–or horror. The World Conference cities is ‘named’, if you will, after the World Hockey Assocation (and lesserly, there was also a World Football League in the 1970s). Carolina (Charlotte), Florida, and Tampa Bay were in the WFL. The WHA included as member cities Minnesota and New Jersey, and there were phantom teams in Florida (Miami) and the Bay Area (San Francisco). Ohio had teams in Cleveland and Cincinnati in the WHA and now has Columbus. Nashville isn’t that far from Birmingham, a one-time WHA member. And finally….the Hurricanes franchise, before it transferred to Carolina, once called the WHA home, playing as the New England Whalers first in Boston and then Springfield Massachusetts, and then in Hartford before the shift to Raleigh.

    Because the conferences are much different in proposal #4 than in #2, I think you’d have to go with a whole different set of trophy names for the divisional playoff winners. American: Orr (Bobby Orr, of Boston). Canadian: Richard (Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, of Montreal). National: Howe (Gordie Howe, of Detroit). World: Hull (Bobby Hull, of the WHA). These are probably the four biggest hockey names between 1945 and 1980. Then let the World and National champs play semifinals for the Lemieux Cup (Mario Lemieux, of Pittsburgh in the National), and the American and Canadian champs for the Gretzky Cup (Wayne Gretzy, of Edmonton in the Canadian). They are the two most important names in the league between 1979 and 2000. Sorry I couldn’t find room for goalie names…

  • Aaron

    Here’s a different proposal I have for the re-alignment situation with expansion…

    Wales Conference

    North

    Toronto
    Buffalo
    Pittsburgh
    Columbus

    East

    Montreal
    Quebec
    Ottawa
    Boston

    Atlantic

    Philadelphia
    New York
    New York
    New Jersey

    South-Atlantic

    Washington
    Carolina
    Florida
    Tampa Bay

    Campbell Conference

    Central

    Detroit
    Chicago
    St. Louis
    Minnesota

    Midwest

    Winnipeg
    Nashville
    Kansas City or Houston
    Dallas

    West

    Los Angeles
    Anaheim
    San Jose
    Colorado

    Northwest-Pacific

    Vancouver
    Portland or Seattle
    Calgary
    Edmonton

  • I’m just speaking the truth

    Won’t work. I like the idea but it’s a time zone problem, hence why Detroit wants into the Eastern Conference.

    The southern conference spans across 4 time zones.

  • Matt

    My pick and I think easiest thing would be to move Nashville to Atlanta’s old division and move Winnipeg to the Central. Easy. Simple. No major changes!