December 22, 2006

The NHL to realign?: The NHL has been trying for weeks to tinker with its schedule configuration, but is now considering a significant overhaul of the face of the league that includes realignment and a reduction in the number of divisions from six to four.

posted by NoMich to hockey at 01:56 PM - 25 comments

Is it better for the league to save money on travel or to expose it's young stars to the nation? Sid the kid, Ovechkin, and the exciting new stars of the NHL need to make more than one trip out west every two years. And I'm sure fans on the east coast wouldn't mind seeing Cheechoo or Datsyuk once in a while.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:11 PM on December 22, 2006

I love it the way it is right now. I'm 31 and grew up loving the the Patrick Division rivalries. I'd much rather see the Devils, Rangers, Penguins, Islanders, and Caps more than the Ducks, Coyotes, Kings, etc.

posted by SummersEve at 02:23 PM on December 22, 2006

How about doing a little contraction too? Remove one team from each conference so there would be 7 teams in each division.

posted by MrFrisby at 02:47 PM on December 22, 2006

I dont care to watch the west coast games. They are on to late at night. So I do not follow the teams at all. Seeing them once in awhile is not as good as watching enemies battle. This only benifits the west coast teams. I do not believe there should be a NHL team in a city were it never snows!

posted by vipers-pit at 02:57 PM on December 22, 2006

How about doing a little contraction too? Yeah, I'm sure that the Players Association will go for that. While you're at it, why not wish for larger rinks, 'cause you know that the owners will be OK with removing the most expensive seats in the house.

posted by NoMich at 03:25 PM on December 22, 2006

How about this as an idea: Every NHL team takes two cross-continent trips per year. Do them all at once, in waves (in each wave, half the teams stay home; each team takes two 7- or 8-game road trips across the country), and market it as a special event. The January-February Trip Window could become a midseason road party before everyone comes back home for the stretch run against their divisional foes. Does that make sense? At this point, the cost of air travel is negligible vs. the benefit of marketing these players nationwide.

posted by chicobangs at 04:11 PM on December 22, 2006

I just want to see the Red Wings play teams like the Bruins and the Maple Leafs more than once every three years (or whatever it is).

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:17 PM on December 22, 2006

Chico, that's a great idea, dude.

posted by Samsonov14 at 06:08 PM on December 22, 2006

Twice every three years. I hope they bring back the Norris division. That'd be sweet.

posted by mkn at 06:10 PM on December 22, 2006

YYM, I'm with you on that one. It was nice to see the Wings play the Leafs this year. They should mandate some kind of "Original Six" rule, letting these teams play each other every year.

posted by wingnut4life at 06:27 PM on December 22, 2006

Instead of forcing the Red Wings to pad their wins with games against the Blackhawks (although that may be a perk).

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 07:33 PM on December 22, 2006

How about an Original Six Conference + Ottawa? I am a long time NHL fan and that idea appeals to me. Why not cater to your long time fans a bit? Usually a staple of this type of discussion has Detroit moving into the East. Maybe Put 3 Original Six teams in a divison but in the same Conference then there would be a greater chance of Original Six playoff match ups? I am all for a “major” realignment of the NHL. All Eastern Time zone games are a plus, but Detroit would have to change Conferences.

posted by directpressure at 07:43 PM on December 22, 2006

As a Wild fan, I gotta say that it sucks bieng in a division with Calgary, Colorado, Vancouver and Edmonton instead of the old Norris Division. Maybe we could just moved the Penguins west, slide Nashville or Columbus into the Eastern Conference and let the Wild play with the Blues, Red Wings and Blackhawks again.

posted by TheQatarian at 07:59 PM on December 22, 2006

Contraction? Seems like a setup to add two teams to balance the divisions. Pittsburgh moving to Kansas City would allow Nashville to swap to the East and Atlanta to stay in the East, with the expansion franchises located with this in mind.

posted by billsaysthis at 08:10 PM on December 22, 2006

When I was 12 or 13, I loved the Blackhawks. They were on every Saturday night and my brother and I watched. Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pit Martin, Tony Esposito, etc.....We knew every player on every team. Now, the NHL is out of control with teams in markets that don't deserve one. "Dollar" Bill Wirtz still owns the Hawks, and they haven't been on free TV in decades. And you know what, I no longer care. They would have to pay ME to go to a game. Right now, I cannot name 3 players on the Hawks, never mind other teams. So until Wirtz dies or no longer owns the Hawks, we in Chicagoland are being deprived. Sad....

posted by wdminott at 08:34 PM on December 22, 2006

Contraction? Seems like a setup to add two teams to balance the divisions With Kansas City already set up and a few other cities wanting a team, that's probably what Bettman and company wants to do. I'm just not sure the talent pool is deep enough for two more teams. Sure they could scrounge up enough players, but would they be competitive?

posted by MrFrisby at 08:51 PM on December 22, 2006

I guess they could just lower the salary cap to help spread the talent to those two teams. Then I guess the next step would be to add that extra round to the playoffs too.

posted by MrFrisby at 09:02 PM on December 22, 2006

The only way that I think any players union would ever go along with contraction is to demonstrate that more teams are financially insolvent than you plan to eliminate and that somehow by eliminating Pittsburgh and Edmonton, for example, you would drastically shore up the finances of say the 4 or 5 next most desperate franchises (BUF, CAL, OTT, MON). Given the recent state of the NHL I would say this scenario is not impossible but still nowhere near as likely as senseless expansion further diluting both your talent pool and fan base of the existing franchises. The other possibility is that you just blow up to forty or fifty teams, dramatically reduce your overhead and stop pretending to be a top tier sport. The Arena Football League and AFL2 have had tremendous success providing regional sports to a diehard local fan base. You would end up with one to two legitimite NHL stars, maybe half a roster of has beens and almost theres and fill out your roster with AHL talent. Not unlike the Bruins actually.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 10:11 PM on December 22, 2006

I say they'll go for the whole enchilada. They make the lines thicker, add color to the ice, make the ricks bigger, nets bigger, realign the teams, change a ton of rules, change the goalie jerseys, plus contract. Bettman wanted to contract to 22 teams: 11 on each side. Each Conference would have a North division and a South divison, and each conference would have 6 teams in the strong division and 5 teams in the weak one. They would also put the guarantee that the top two tams make the playoffs. Also, they would contract the playoffs to four teams from each side. That means only 3 teams would miss out. What's interesting is what a team that won the cup like Carolina will do now, they;re on the hit list. Anaheim was also on the list, but with the way they're playing somebody else will be put in: I think LA (no!) or SJ. Anyway, I hav a strange feeling that KC will choke and Mario's gonna go to Winnipeg. The Pens will then be in the Western Conference, I assume North division. If you're wondering, the Avs were off the list.

posted by LA_Dude at 10:37 PM on December 22, 2006

I'm not a big fan of contraction, but I would like to see a much more balanced schedule. yes it would mean more travel which would raise costs, but it would make for better competition and it would change things from regional competition to more a national competition. I'm a Sens fan living in Michigan. Thanks to the schedule they played Detroit so I got to watch them play once this year. VS doesn't do Canadian home games so the only way I can watch them is to get Center Ice, but for other reasons that's not an option. The NHL needs a better TV deal for more exposure. They need better PR for the nights they are on. I have no idea if VS has a set schedule where they show hockey every wednesday or something like that. They need to get on free tv for at least one set night a week and create the equivalent of Monday Night Football. Hockey Night in America. That would do more for the health of the game than realigning, contracting, expanding, or changing the rules.

posted by apoch at 02:05 AM on December 23, 2006

somehow by eliminating Pittsburgh and Edmonton, for example, you would drastically shore up the finances of say the 4 or 5 next most desperate franchises (BUF, CAL, OTT, MON) I dont know about the other teams listed above, but living in Buffalo, I can tell you every single home Sabres game has sold out this year.

posted by nymetsfan at 11:51 AM on December 23, 2006

apoch: nbc will launch a game of the week broadcast with penguins-flyers on jan. 13 in the feature match plus blues-kings and bruins-rangers. LA Dude: WTF? Drop eight teams, I don't think so.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:47 PM on December 23, 2006

You will have to pry the Oilers from Edmonton's cold dead hands. We ain't dead yet and it's not even that cold here.

posted by alex_reno at 01:52 PM on December 23, 2006

TV is the key for the NHL. Also, I didn't say contract 8 teams, I read on the site of a Canadian paper during the lockout. I do NOT want that to happen, I just read about it. That's something that, purportedly, is something that Bettman is itching to do.

posted by LA_Dude at 05:26 PM on December 23, 2006

I can't see how that would help the NHL regarding the TV market. If there isn't a home team to watch and root for, why would people tune in? And it would only make less people want to watch if their home team was part of the contraction. If the Wings were contracted, I probably wouldn't watch another NHL game for a long time.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:48 PM on December 23, 2006

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