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A Non-Divisional NHL?

from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,

The NHL doesn’t need divisions at all anymore.

What’s that? You’ve just done a spit-take and burst into tears only your team’s divisional championship banner can dry? Come off it. You know as well as I that nobody – not NHL players, not coaches or executives, and certainly not fan bases – give a rat’s rear where a team finishes in its division. These days, you’re either a top-eight team in your conference or you’re a slug looking at the playoffs from the outside. And even if you make the playoffs after having won your division, anything less than a Stanley Cup championship still will be considered a massive disappointment of a season.

Going to conference-only standings wouldn’t hurt divisional rivalries in the least. There’s nothing that says the teams that play each other six times a season right now couldn’t continue to do so. In fact, in an 82-game schedule, the league could continue traditional divisional team play at the present rate, have each team play a home-and-home series against all 15 teams in the opposite conference, and still have 28 games to address rivalries that pop up organically from time to time.

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Comments

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That’s a good point. Winning the division means nothing.

What’s good about divisions, though, is that they allow for a few more games against the other teams in the division than outside it. For teams in the Atlantic division, at least, that’s a good thing, because all the old Patrick division teams have hated each other for decades.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 03:04 PM ET

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and still have 28 games to address rivalries that pop up organically from time to time.

Whoops. Proteau addressed this.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 03:05 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

I still think the best thing is to move Winnipeg to the Northwest, Minnesota to the Central, and Nashville to the Southeast. You get some Norris and Smythe division rivalries back and Tennessee gets the southeastern rivalries from geography/college.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 10/13/11 at 03:42 PM ET

WingMan's avatar

Unless you are going to have divisional playoffs (like they used to) then divisions are pointless imo.  If you use conference standings for playoff seedings they why not just go with that?

Personally I would like to see divisions, with divisional playoffs.  That, NHL is how you create rivalries and make them matter… not 6 regular season games, not 4 conference games and not meetings once every 10 years in a playoff series.

The uneven number of team messes things up, but you could still do it.  Baseball has uneven divisions…  Top 4 in each, then 1 v 4 & 2 v 3 in each div, then div c-ships then con c-ships then final.  So simple, yet we’ll never see it :-(

Posted by WingMan from The Q C on 10/13/11 at 03:43 PM ET

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can someone tell me why we need to blow everything up because the redwings don’t want to play in the west anymore?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/13/11 at 04:26 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

can someone tell me why we need to blow everything up because the redwings don’t want to play in the west anymore?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/13/11 at 03:26 PM ET

Waaaaah.  Everything that even slightly annoys me is Detroit’s fault!

Let’s forget that Winnipeg, Manitoba has a team which plays in the SOUTHEAST division against teams in Carolina, Washington DC, Tampa Bay, and Sunrise, Florida.

Let’s forget that a team in the Central time zone plays all of its divisional games (except for the ones in Phoenix before the end of Daylight Savings Time) in a time zone two hours away.

THIS IS ALL THE RED WINGS FAULT!

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/13/11 at 04:40 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

If everyone still plays the same teams six times per year that they play six times per year now, that solves nothing. Getting rid of divisions would just be a name, or lack thereof…

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 10/13/11 at 04:42 PM ET

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It’s a crime Detroit doesn’t play Toronto more.  It would also be a crime if they didn’t play Chicago more than once a year. 

We need to blow things up because dividing the league in half like it is is stupid. 

Also, you’d be bitching too if the Pens only played Philadelphia once a year.  Pull your head out of your ass and look at it objectively instead of though your “I hate detroit” glasses.

Posted by Nick on 10/13/11 at 04:43 PM ET

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We need to blow things up because dividing the league in half like it is is stupid.
Also, you’d be bitching too if the Pens only played Philadelphia once a year.  Pull your head out of your ass and look at it objectively instead of though your “I hate detroit” glasses.

i honestly feel like that is the main reason for the whole discussion…

every major sports league has two conferences
NFL (NFC/AFC)
MLB (NL/AL)
NBA (East/West)
NHL (East/West)

I am not saying the NHL has to be like other leagues, but to say dividing the league in half is stupid is a little nuts.

the format it is in now is good.  no need to make major changes

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/13/11 at 04:54 PM ET

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Let’s also not forget that all of that timezone/stayuplate crap also applies to Columbus, which is not only further East than Detroit, but is also stuck in a different conference than both of its natural rivals, something that cannot be said about Detroit.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 04:57 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Let’s also not forget that all of that timezone/stayuplate crap also applies to Columbus, which is not only further East than Detroit, but is also stuck in a different conference than both of its natural rivals, something that cannot be said about Detroit.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 03:57 PM ET

Except Columbus doesn’t make the playoffs

Actually, define “natural” rivals while you’re at it, since there’s very little difference in the distance between Toronto and Detroit and the distance between Detroit and Columbus.

To tell the truth, I agree with guys like Wyshynski who say a move by Columbus to the East makes more sense.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/13/11 at 05:02 PM ET

drimo's avatar

Let’s also not forget that all of that timezone/stayuplate crap also applies to Columbus, which is not only further East than Detroit, but is also stuck in a different conference than both of its natural rivals, something that cannot be said about Detroit.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 03:57 PM ET

Let’s also not forget the Wings fans that live near Columbus and get the opportunity to pack Nationwide Arena thee times per year.

Also, I’m having a real hard time figuring out who that other “natural rival” of Columbus is… Pittsburgh and… Detroit?  Columbus moves east, you still lose your arguably biggest rival in Detroit.

Posted by drimo from Cincinnati, OH on 10/13/11 at 05:27 PM ET

awould's avatar

The only reason I want Detroit to move east is to cut down on the travel costs and fatigue. I’d hate to see the Chicago rivalry fade away. Other than that, I’d rather they stay in the West.

That said, I’d like to move to two conferences only, with no Divisions. I don’t care if they play Chicago 6 times or 4 times, or San Jose only 2 times, but I do think every team in the league should play a home and home. Come up with some rotating schedule to ensure they play a fair share against all Conference teams over a course of 3 or 4 seasons. It will never be exactly even or fair so don’t bother too much trying. If they choose to consider geography when scheduling the extra games, so be it.

Also, doing away with Divisions would do away with the one thing I’ve always hated…. the 3rd seed having fewer pts than the 4th seed. This has happened in one Conference every season since the lockout and it is just stupid.

Posted by awould on 10/13/11 at 05:29 PM ET

aaron in phoenix's avatar

What about a North/South alignment? Or, be like the MLB and the NFL, two conferences of East, Central, and West. Everyone has to travel that way.

Posted by aaron in phoenix from Section 102 on 10/13/11 at 05:30 PM ET

awould's avatar

two conferences of East, Central, and West. Everyone has to travel that way.

Posted by aaron in phoenix from Section 102 on 10/13/11 at 04:30 PM ET

The hard part about the NHL league breakout is that there are 11 teams east of Pittsburgh and north of DC. That is more than one-third of the league in a relatively small geographic area. In a larger area in the west, there are three teams (PHX,LA,ANH,SJ, with only three in Western Canada (VAN,CGY,EDM).

This makes me think Aaron from Phoenix is right. Other than being from Phoenix like me, he has this going for him. They need to break up the league completely and dissolve the no-travel cartel in the northeast. Put SJ in a Conference with NJ. Who cares. The owners won’t like it because it will cost them more and puts more of their games in different time zones. But still, I think the whole league benefits from exposure to every team in every market. They’d have more extended road trips probably. But it’s not like it’s impossible to make it work. Have a West/East or North/South for each conference. I don’t mind uneven Division numbers. It would make contraction more likely too, which would be good for the fans of teams that aren’t on the chopping block (Florida, Phoenix, Islanders, etc).

Posted by awould on 10/13/11 at 05:51 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

can someone tell me why we need to blow everything up because the redwings don’t want to play in the west anymore?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 10/13/11 at 03:26 PM ET

Did a Penguins fan really just say that???

A Penguins fan??????

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/13/11 at 06:33 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Let’s also not forget that all of that timezone/stayuplate crap also applies to Columbus, which is not only further East than Detroit, but is also stuck in a different conference than both of its natural rivals, something that cannot be said about Detroit.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/13/11 at 03:57 PM ET

Wake me when they’ve won a playoff game (ever) and maybe then it might possibly perhaps be a legit reason as to why anyone should give them consideration ever.

Until then, nobody gives a crap about Columbus.

Posted by Primis on 10/13/11 at 09:17 PM ET

Faux Rumors's avatar

1) The real Elephant in the realignment room is where will Phoenix be next season?  Doesn’t that have to be resolved or we’re going to be at this stuff agauin next season?

Posted by Faux Rumors from Globally- Here, there, Everywhere on 10/14/11 at 01:26 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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