The NHL Board of Governors officially approved league re-alignment earlier this month paring the current six divisions down to four larger ones based more closely on the geographic location of the teams. The new-look NHL will include two eight-team “Western Conference” divisions and two seven-team “Eastern Conference” divisions breaking down as follows:
The “Wild Wild West” Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
The “Middle America” Division: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
The “Northeast and Florida” Division: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
The “Subway” Division: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Essentially this re-alignment was made to appease bitchy fans of Detroit, Dallas and Columbus who incessantly complain about staying up late to watch games that are out of their time zone. While the travel schedules will indeed be more appealing to the teams, they will nonetheless be punished with visits to lovely Winnipeg 2-3 times a year. The unbalanced divisions does give some legs to the rumors that Commandant Bettman will finally allow the Coyotes to leave Phoenix though. If the Yotes moved to Quebec City it would re-balance the “East”, but imagine the confusion a new Nordiques franchise could impose on a casual Hockey fan…
“Yeah the Nordiques used to be in Phoenix, and before that they were the Winnipeg Jets, but not the Winnipeg Jets who used to be in Atlanta, and not the Atlanta team that moved to Calgary, and this isn’t the Nordiques team that moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche either. Got that?”
There has been a lot of clamor online about what to name these new divisions, with the leading contenders being uninspired regional names, or a resurrection of the old Wales and Campbell conferences with the Norris, Patrick, Smythe and Adams divisions respectively.
A third alternative that has been bandied about is naming the divisions after newer legends like Gretzky or Lemieux. I think they might be on the right track with this last idea, and I’d like to make a formal proposal for the re-alignment naming that surely everybody can get behind.