In the latest NHL realignment draft, the league proposes moving to four conferences and moving teams to different conferences.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC said, ‘the proposal, which must still be approved by the league’s board of governors, would do away with the current two-conference, six-division format in favor of four individual conferences – two with seven teams and two with eight.”
“A major impetus for the desire for realignment was the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-12 season, which has created significant travel struggles in the Southeast Division,” Friedman said.
Conference 1: Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals
Conference 2: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadians, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs
Conference 3: Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets
Conference 4: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, LA Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks.
This includes moving the Red Wings and Blue Jackets to the East and Winnipeg Jets (former Atlanta Thrashers) to the West. Detroit is happy about this because it means easier travel for them.
It puts 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West. This raises questions about the Phoenix Coyotes. The league owns the team and is struggling to find an owner. Many hockey fans want to see hockey return to Quebec City (the Nordiques moved to Colorado after the 1994-95 season), but this would cause an uneven number. There have been rumors the team would move to Seattle, which would make sense if this realignment happens because the team would stay in the same conference.
But moving Detroit to the East leaves Chicago as the only Original Six team in the West and ends a rivalry that dates back to the 1920s. The new conference would be weaker, which could be a win for Chicago, but at the same time they would lose their oldest and most treasured rival.
Realignment will happen and whether the NHL goes with this arrangement will not matter. No matter what they choose Winnipeg will end up in the West and Detroit and Columbus will be in the East.
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