Regardless of the outcome, I knew from the beginning that I would not be impressed with the NHL realignment that was in the works, which was was necessary because of the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg.
At first the rumor was that the Detroit Red Wings were going to be put in the Southeastern Division, and I was confused on how that was even reasonable. How could you take the Red Wings out of their division, where it makes sense, and they have a rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks and put them in the South? I liked the idea of potentially moving Nashville Predators or Columbus Blue Jackets into the Southeastern Division and call it good.
Little did I know, it was only going to become more confusing. As I read the article about changing up the divisions by making them into conferences and moving teams around within the conferences, I felt relieved because I felt as if the Red Wings would be too much of a challenge, and they had no place in our division, let alone our conference.
Once they approved the new NHL realignment, I decided to dig a little deeper and research it. I was thankful that the Red Wings would not be shipped to the South, but didn’t realize the full extent of how bad this would be for our team. So, instead of putting the Predators, Red Wings, or Blue Jackets into our division and make it simple, they had to complicate it.
This new NHL realignment will eliminate a 2-conference, 6-division set up and instead welcome four conferences based on geography. The conferences have yet to be named, but their intentions are to put Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins into one conference. Two of the conferences will have 8 teams, whereas the other two will have 7 teams. What’s worse is the way the playoffs will be set up, as they have it right now only the top four teams in each conference would qualify for the playoffs.
But how does that even make sense?
First off, how can all that travel be good for our team? As you can tell here the average travel for our Tampa Bay Lightning would be 1013 miles. But then, you have teams like the New York Islanders averaging a total of 191 miles. All of that bouncing the team around will be harsh on the guys, and very exhausting. We need our players 100% as often as possible, traveling that much is not going to give them that opportunity.
Another thing, when did Florida move to the Northeast? Never to my knowledge. It appears as if they just tossed the two Florida teams into a conference with no thought, and figured it’d work just fine.
However, the NHLPA has yet to approve the new realignment, which means that the realignment is not finalized and there’s a chance it could be changed.
In all reality, I would’ve been happy if they would’ve just stuck Nashville in the Southeast division, and moved on with life instead of complicating everything, eliminating divisions, and moving teams into conferences that don’t make any sense. Lets hope the NHLPA does not approve of this radical realignment.