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“It was typical Gary Bettman.  It’s like a Chicago election in the 1930s. Not that it’s fixed, but you have a pretty good sense what’s going to happen beforehand.”

-Brian Burke, President and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs on how the realignment decision was basically a done deal before the BOG meeting started. 

More realignment talk from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star.

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke, gary+bettman


Heaton's avatar


Posted by Heaton on 12/06/11 at 03:13 AM ET

John W.'s avatar

Interesting.  I remember reading a while back about how MLB commish Bud Selig would never bring something to a vote until he knew he had the votes to pass, and then he’d go to the dissenters and tell them he had the votes and that if they would go along he would help them out as best he could, and if they wouldn’t go along, essentially screw you. 

My point of this is it seems as if maybe Toronto was one of the teams not to vote for realignment and maybe that’s why they ended up in the worst travel conference outta the old East teams.  Toronto to Florida isn’t exactly a short trek when compared to the bus rides in the New York metro area division.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 12/06/11 at 03:24 AM ET

Fugazi's avatar

Toronto to Florida ain’t squat compared the the West Coast teams. The disparity in the NHL is a joke when it comes to travel.

Posted by Fugazi from Bay Area, Left Coast on 12/06/11 at 03:34 AM ET


Hahaha. Burke…such a tough guy. Fu*k you, buddy.

Posted by godblender on 12/06/11 at 03:58 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Cry like a river, Burkie.  Cry.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/06/11 at 04:01 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Interesting.  I remember reading a while back about how MLB commish Bud Selig would never bring something to a vote until he knew he had the votes to pass, and then he’d go to the dissenters and tell them he had the votes and that if they would go along he would help them out as best he could, and if they wouldn’t go along, essentially screw you.

This is how most political organizations work, actually. It’s why there is always a lot of talking and meeting and arm-twisting and discussion ahead of time. With a major decision such as this, if it were brought up and failed to pass it would have been a huge waste of the time and effort of many people. Why bother voting unless you are pretty sure the efforts put in won’t be pointless.

Elections in Chicago in the 1930s could result in bodies dumped at construction sites in the suburbs. The NHL was just operating as politics normally operates in this case. Hyperbole to say otherwise.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 12/06/11 at 09:22 AM ET

Primis's avatar


So BOS, PHI, and TOR were 3 of the 4 that voted “No” obviously…  making an assumption on the BOS, and PHI, but it’s a very, very safe assumption given their voting history.  We know it wasn’t PIT, they said they were happy.

John’s point is VERY true.  Any commish worth anything is going to get support he wants BEFORE bringing something to a vote.  I’ve heard this in all 4 of the major sports in the past.

Posted by Primis on 12/06/11 at 10:03 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Actually, scratch that.  In the actual article, the context of Burke’s comments comes across VERY differently I guess.  Burke was actually not complaining when he said that I think.

NAS is also cited as a supporter of the new format.

Still want to know the 4 dissenters, and still can guarantee BOS and PHI were 2 of them.

Posted by Primis on 12/06/11 at 10:07 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I would guess the other two teams that voted against it were from the western conferences and were voting no as a result of the imbalance in the number of eastern conference teams (8 team conferences in the west vs. 7 team in the east).

I like the alignment a lot for geography, time zones, scheduling, and travel. It is a definite win for my team. But I am not thrilled about the unbalanced conferences. It is now easier to get into the playoffs in the east than the west. I guess the question is, does somewhat leveling the travel playing field balance out the unbalanced team count?

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 12/06/11 at 11:49 AM ET


It is now easier to get into the playoffs in the east than the west.

Is it though?  With the new conferences there are two (one “east” and one “west”) that each have five current playoffs spots while the other two conferences each have three. 

With Boston, Buffalo, Ottawa, Toronto and Florida in the same conference is it easier or harder for Montreal and Tampa to make the playoffs?  And is it easier or harder for them to make the playoffs than for Columbus, Nashville and/or Winnipeg to make the playoffs in the same conference with Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Dallas and St Louis?

Posted by Garth on 12/06/11 at 12:04 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I don’t get the complaints about the conferences being unbalanced.  It’s very short-sighted to give that grief.

Everyone knows that either Phoenix will be moving east, or something else will happen to put teams in the East.  This alignment confirms as much, either PHX will move East or Bettman is eyeing…. yes…. possible expansion in the East eventually.

And as has been stated previously, this alignment is VERY versatile, in that “major” swaps and changes can occur without really upsetting balance like the old/current structure would have had to endure.

Posted by Primis on 12/06/11 at 01:08 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

The imbalance has been an issue in baseball in the Wild Card era, and illustrates the concern I have about it in hockey.

I could well be mistaken—seriously, please correct me if I’m wrong. But my concerns are based on this. I keep seeing that each of the four conferences will play 44 or 46 games outside of their conference. If you’re in the 7 team conferences, you play 23 teams outside the conference, twice each, for 46 games. If you are in the 8 team conferences, you play 22 teams outside the conference, twice each, for 44 games.

This leaves 36 conference games for the 7 team conferences, meaning 6 games per conference opponent. And it leaves 38 conference games for the 8 team conferences, meaning the 5/6 rotation, with 5 games each against 4 teams, and 6 games each against 3.

So bottom line, it is tougher to make the playoffs in the 8 team conferences because you have to play two more games against the teams you are directly competing against for a spot in the postseason. The 7 team conferences have it slightly easier because they will have two additional games that are outside of conference play, meaning a potential opponent for a playoff spot at least can’t directly take those four points off of them—they are more likely to be able to lose one or both of those games and still make the playoffs, because they are playing two games against teams not in direct competition for a spot with them. Therefore those games aren’t, as the saying goes, “four point games.”

I will say Primis makes some good points—with the idea that the league may well expand to 32 teams after the Phoenix situation is settled, that would allow a proper balance to be reached.

I could easily see a situation where between Phoenix and two expansion franchises, Quebec City, Kansas City, and Seattle all end up with clubs. This would open the door for either Columbus or Detroit to shift to one of the “eastern” conferences, and give us the balance that long-term I think is needed. I will agree that in the short-term this is okay.

So, in light of what Primis says, it isn’t a huge issue I guess, but it is still worth some consideration. It will be interesting to see how tight the competition for the top four slots are the first few seasons in this new format. If they are as tight as the current two-conference races have been, the imbalance will be a significant issue as long as it exists. But it just may not turn out to be a huge problem since the majority of games actually come outside of the conference now.

It will be interesting to see.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 12/06/11 at 02:01 PM ET

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