Expansion and Realignment? Part 1

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EAST

Division 1

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs

Montreal Canadiens

Halifax**

Division 2

Buffalo Sabres

Boston Bruins

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

Division 3

New York Rangers

New York Islanders

New Jersey Devils

Washington Capitals. 

CENTRAL

Division 1

Carolina Hurricanes

Florida Panthers

Tampa Bay Lightning

Atlanta Thrashers

Division 2

Nashville Predators

St. Louis Blues

Oklahoma City**

Columbus Blue Jackets

Division 3

Minnesota Wild

Minneapolis**

Detroit Red Wings

Chicago Blackhawks

WEST

Division 1

Anaheim Ducks

San Jose Sharks

Los Angeles Kings

Seattle**

Division 2

Las Vegas**

Pheonix Coyotes

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

Division 3

Vancouver Canucks

Winnipeg**

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

That put fours teams in one division, three divisions in each conference.  Now I know many purists are going to complain that I turned it into a bus league, but in my opinion, one thing the current NHL is lacking that was present before, was rivalries.  Despite seeing a team in your current division six times, the rivalry is not there unless you are geographically close – for the most part.  There is of course the exception to the rule. 

One thing I pondered is a Canadien Division – through that one out though because I couldn’t see the travel logistic of Vancouver playing Montreal that many times in the course of a season.  It is, after all, a business.  Some decisions have to have more weight than hockey.  Another division I gave some thought to was an original six division, through that out as well, because I needed a four team division format. 

One thing that I struggled with was putting all of the Canadien teams into one division (East, Division 1 and West, Division 3).  I had a thought the other day of how long it has been since a Canadien team won a Stanley Cup.  The 1992-1993 Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadien holders of the title (doesn’t that give us the right to move the Stanley Cup’s home to the United States?)  Consider the divisions the teams north of the border are in:

Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal – Northeast Division.  Probably one of the stronger division in hockey today.  Despite the fact that Toronto has been horrible since, well lets go with my entire life.  Ottawa and Montreal always had Buffalo and Boston to contend with. 

Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver have Minnesota and Colorado to deal with.  Since most Canadien teams were in the same division, it was only fair to keep them that way in my system. 

Now that I have my teams in place and properly aligned, I will tackle the schedule – because it could be a nightmare.  Tune in this week for Expansion and Realignment Part 2 when I discuss schedules.   

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