The Latest Realignment Scenario - Impact on Columbus

CBC's Elliotte Friedman tweeted earlier tonight the proposed realignment that the NHL and NHLPA are currently discussing. From a Columbus standpoint, it's very interesting.

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:

Eastern Conference

Carolina Hurricanes Boston Bruins
Columbus Blue Jackets Buffalo Sabres
New Jersey Devils Detroit Red Wings
New York Islanders Florida Panthers
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators
Pittsburgh Penguins Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals Toronto Maple Leafs

Western Conference

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?

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