CBC's Elliotte Friedman used twitter to drop this first of four tweets, outlining the proposed new divisions that the NHL and NHLPA are considering. Realignment has been a hot topic in recent years, with Atlanta moving to Winnipeg and some Western Conference teams unhappy with their travel schedule.
Here's how it breaks down:
|DIVISION 3||DIVISION 4|
|Dallas Stars||Calgary Flames|
|Winnipeg Jets||Edmonton Oilers|
|Minnesota Wild||Vancouver Canucks|
|Chicago Blackhawks||San Jose Sharks|
|Nashville Predators||Anaheim Ducks|
|St.Louis Blues||Los Angeles Kings|
|Colorado Avalanche||Phoenix Coyotes|
The proposed format is geographically biased, which makes the most sense from a travel and expense perspective. A look at the new Division 1 (I assigned the numbers) reveals that you have the former Atlantic Division mated with the Jackets, Caps and Hurricanes. The Jackets get their move to the East, while the two northern-most Southeast Division teams (proper) join the battle against their Eastern Seaboard bros.
The new Division 2 is the Northeast Division, with the Florida teams and the Wings tossed in. A ressurection of the Wings-Leafs rivalry is an exciting thought, but this is where you see the least amount of savings gained- the Florida teams' travel budget is extended to include more games further up north into Canada.
Division 3 is essentially the new Super Central. Chicago, Nashville and St.Louis remain in place, with Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado joining them. This new division is the most drastic departure from the existing divisions, but makes sense on so many levels.
The final division is straight-forward. It's the California teams, plus Phoenix, lumped in with the Western Canadian squads. An interesting division, for sure.
From a Columbus perspective, the Jackets finally get their wish to move a majority of their games to the Eastern time zone. No more West Coast roadies. To get their wish though, they now have to deal with some potent Atlantic Division foes on a regular basis. A rivalry with the Pens has potential. From a TV coverage angle, Columbus has a much better chance of getting national attention with so many games against big market Northeast teams.
If these proposed divisions are accepted, a modified playoff format is required due to the unbalanced conferences. Would a wildcard format be introduced? Crossovers? There are options. I like the idea of a one game playoff between the bubble teams to decide even conference numbers. This is likely the final point being debated.
If this thing gets approved, Columbus fans should be happy- they finally get a move to the East. I wonder though, is this a "be careful what you wish for" situation for the Jackets and their fans, and are we in for a rude awakening when having to face so many good teams, so often?