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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Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Canadien, Expansion, NHL, Realignment, Stanley Cup, Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, United States, Vancouver Canucks, Western Conference

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  • lonewolf3388

    Interesting article Tim, but two teams in Minny? Also do you think any re-locations are in order?

  • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

    lonewolf,

    Thanks for the comment and the read. Two things, yes I think that Minnesota can support two teams. I think there are several markets that can support two teams, Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles to name a few.

    I picked Minnesota because it made the most sense for my article. I wasn’t going based on what I thought the NHL would do, I was going more towards what I think the NHL should do. I don’t necessarily agree with putting a team in Vegas or Oklahoma – but I think the league would be best served from teams in that area – to make up for geographic gaps in the league.

    Stay tuned for for on my expansion and realign!

    • Jeffrey Chapman

      Central Division 1 is going to be a loooonely division :)

      • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

        Jeff,

        Thanks for the read. Yes, but it might be Florida’s only chance of making the playoffs!

  • Rick Keene

    The NHL must relocate teams from Pheonix, Nashville, Tampa etc and place them in Hamilton, Quebec and Winnepeg….forget everything until then I am so tired of greed replacing what sports is about having fun and playing before fans – true fans of the game…..

    • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

      Rick,

      I can see your point, but I think the NHL is trying to get bigger, not shrink into a tighter market group. I think the NHL is going to resist movement into the Hamilton area just because you have so many teams in that region already. Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit are all relatively close. I was hesitant about putting one of my expansion teams in Winnipeg, only for the fact that the NHL has been there and done that – they might want to test new markets before retreading one that already failed them.

      We are however, in a different era of hockey, and those markets might now be able to better support a franchise.

      Thanks for the read – and remember – this is not based in any fact or inklings from the NHL.

  • Eugene Markman

    Nooooo, don’t take the Devils and Rangers away from the Flyers. Also, I hate expansion. It’s not about more cities, it’s about the dilution of talent. The more people allowed to play, the worse the on ice product. Also, I think we’re losing a few other rivalries that can get jumpstarted (Blues-Wings) with this realignment. They might not be as passionate now, but things work in cycles. THey’ll pick back up again. I’d rather see some teams relocated (the entire SE Division) rather that just expansion.

  • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

    Eugene,

    I share your concerns – I don’t necessarily want to see expansion – but its going to happen – if we accept it now it will be easier to stomach.

    As far as aligning the teams – it was strictly geographical.

    • Jared Rice

      Tim,

      Great article, but I gotta go with Eugene on this one. I’d cry myself to sleep every night if the Flyers were no longer in the same division as the Rangers and Devils.

      Take it from a life-long Philly fan: my first pick to win the cup at the beginning of every season is always the Flyers. My second is always “Not the Devils” :-)

      Plus, every team in East Div 3 is geographically closer to Philly than any team in East Div 2. How about swapping the Islanders for the Flyers? I always thought the Islanders should be in a New-England-ish division anyway.

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