My NHL Realignment Idea

With the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, it is clear to many that the NHL will need to realign its conferences and divisions. There has been talk for some time about how difficult the travel is for Western Conference teams, and how it doesn’t make sense for Detroit, Chicago or Columbus to be Western Conference teams. There’s truth to these things, but no easy solution. The fact is that teams on the west are just more spread out. There’s no two ways about it. Still, I do think there is a better way than how it is currently constituted and I do have a proposed solution.

I had 4 primary goals when attempting realignment:
  1) Reduce overall average travel time for teams
  2) Make travel time as even as possible for both conferences
  3) Maintain as many of the existing rivalries as possible
  4) Try to keep equal divisions (i.e. – every division has 5 teams)

When I started attempting to come up with different divisions, I found that it helped to visualize it on a map. After 4 attempts that didn’t satisfy me, I finally settled on a rather radical North/South realignment that looks like this:

Phil Loos/Some Rights Reserved

I honestly think it’s the best solution. Splitting it east/west is just folly, in my opinion, and it makes travel times ridiculous for Western Conference teams. With this realignment, the area covered by each conference is much more even and the regional divisions make more sense, not only in terms of travel and rivalries, but even culture as well. Dallas, for example, has much more in common with Florida and Carolina than it does with Los Angeles or San Jose.
I suppose it’s not perfect, but then again, I don’t know that any system would be perfect. This is as close as I could get, and I’d love to get your thoughts and ideas if you have a difference of opinion.
2 Responses to “My NHL Realignment Idea”
  1. Josh Mischel says:

    Although a great idea this won’t happen as it splits along the haves and the have nots. To have all the high spending and historic teams battling out for a few playoff spots vs the southern conference which will be way more open isn’t great for the league. Great idea though.

    • That’s an interesting point. Spending shouldn’t be too much of an issue though with a spending floor and ceiling. The “historic” teams clumped together might be an issue, but I think it matters less today than it ever has.

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