As I mentioned the last "Around the Rink" post, the NHL is looking into realignment coming up. This will be brought to the attention of the board of governors, which will then be voted on and all that fun stuff. The inital thought is that instead of six divisions, there will only be four in each of the conferences.
Granted, there's 30 teams in the league, 15 in each conference-- you're going to have uneven division settings. This could (and probably will) stir the talk of expansion (or even contraction) in the NHL, but the short term effect this could have is getting rid of the ridiculous division match-ups that were a good idea in theory, but somewhat poor in execution. That, or you can have what the MLB has with 16 teams on one side and 14 in the other....which really, when thought about-- isn't too bad an idea.
Due to a lot of time on my hands, I have developed three possible scenarios, with surely many more to come. These scenarios are pretty much easy to follow, but I'll map them out anyway in order to no confuse the whole lot of you.
SCENARIO ONE: The first scenario is basic. It just divides up what the Conferences are now. In the East, the Southeast would be the same with the addition to Philadelphia and New Jersey, while the other divsion will mix the other teams in the current Atlantic with those in the Northeast. The West would get Dallas out of the Pacific and Minnesota out of the Northwest and put them with the Central. The rest of the Pacific and Northwest would join their own division.
SCENARIO TWO: This sees the Pittsburgh Penguins moving to Kansas City, which would move them out West. Columbus would tolley out to the East. That's just a flip-flop from scenario one. Now, if the Pens move to Houston or Winnipeg, this wouldn't effect it much. If the off-chance they move to Portland, Colorado would move to the more Eastern Western Division (see Scenario 2a).
SCENARIO THREE: This is a copy off the MLB situation where 14 teams are on one side (Eastern) and 16 teams are on the other (Western). This is used with the KC Penguins model and would be adjusted as they moved. Basically, the Blue Jackets would move back to the West and each Western Conference division would have eight teams in them. Now, this would probably bring about more divisional play, but what can you do.
Playoff wise, it should be like it was in the old days, where you actually had to play out of your division in order to get to the Conference Finals. If you want to increase the rivalry set, don't worry about making all these games in the regular season; put it to the test in the playoffs, because that's where true rivalries are born.
If you have your own take on what the divisons should look like, either leave a comment here or join the discussion on the FOHS Message Boards powered by FantasyHockey.com.