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Rocket's Red Glare: Realignment opportunities the NHL might have missed

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • December 7, 2011 - 12:35 PM

Commenter Rocket writes about the NHL every week because we have a tendency to ignore it otherwise. This works out well. We were fairly certain he would write about realignment this week. We were not, however, expecting this take on it. Rocket?

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As soon as the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets everyone could feel the winds of change a-blowing in the NHL. All of that blowing finally came to a head on Monday the NHL announced a radical reshuffling in which it will be abandoning the two-conference, six-division format for a four-conference format. The new divisions will look like this, with the NHL annexing Florida to Canada, for everybody’s sake.

The NHL Board of Governors only took an hour to discuss and approve the massive change. Each conference will send four teams to the playoffs, with the first two rounds consisting exclusively of intra-conference matchups. When the four conference champions are determined then the conferences will match up against each other, with the criteria for determining which conference will face which yet to be determined.
 
This new plan has created a lot of buzz around the hockey world, with plenty of opinion being espoused around the blogosphere. Yet, what has gone criminally underreported in all of this mess were the alternate plans that the NHL considered. It is time to correct that mistake.
 
The “Singular vs. Plural” plan
 
This radical readjustment would have had one conference consisting of the Wild, Avalanche, Lightning, and somehow the Macon Whoopee, Fargo Force, and Miami Heat and another conference with everyone else. The “plural” conference would have continued the traditional seven-game-series playoff structure through the conference finals, while the singular conference would have had a one-game-playoff, winner-take-all tournament for its conference championship. The winner of the “singular” conference would then have to petition the league for the right to play for the Stanley Cup by explaining why it has forced sportswriters and fans to endure technically correct yet awkward sentences like, “The Wild has the best record in the league.” The Stanley Cup finals would then consist of a best-of-three series with players from the singular conference mandated to give narrow “we have to play one game at a time”-type quotes while the winners of the plural conference are mandated to spew equally pointless, big picture “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”-like clichés.
 
The “You Are What You Are” plan
 
Under this format, the divisions would be realigned to correspond with the team nicknames. The divisions would break down as follows:
 
“Aquatic creature” division
Anaheim Ducks
Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks
 
“Cats and dogs” division
Florida Panthers
Nashville Predators
Phoenix Coyotes
 
“Aerial” division
Detroit Red Wings
Philadelphia Flyers
Winnipeg Jets
 
“Sky and weather” division
Carolina Hurricanes
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Tampa Bay Lightning
 
“Stuff that burns” division
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Toronto Maple Leafs
 
“Politicians and their ilk” division
New Jersey Devils
Ottawa Senators
Washington Capitals
 
“Strangely racialized” division
Chicago Blackhawks
Montreal Canadiens
Vancouver Canucks
 
“Not quite as racialized” division
Columbus Blue Jackets
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
 
“You make no [redacted] sense anywhere else” division
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues
 
Each division winner earns a spot in the playoffs, with seven “wild card” spots going to the non-division winners with the best records. Playoff seeding is then determined by a collection of first graders, who will determine the bracket by answering a series of “who would win in a fight” questions – i.e. “Who would win in a fight, a hurricane or a coyote?”
 
In addition to everlasting glory, gaudy rings, and a personal day with the Cup, the Stanley Cup champions will also earn the honor of being able to change the nickname of one other franchise in the NHL. The divisions will then be reshuffled to reflect that change. League rules will mandate that if a franchise has had its nicknamed changed in the last three years in cannot be changed again. In addition, no nickname can be changed to a vulgarity or anything offensive to a majority of the populace once the [redacted] and [redacted] divisions have been filled with a maximum of four teams.
 
So, there you have it. The NHL took a bold step forward on Monday, but it was clearly not as bold as it could have been. What do you think of the alternate plans, fellow RandBallaholics?

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