FanPost

Realignment: the NFL/MLB path, with a twist

Editor's Note: prsancho is a hockey fan living in that hockey hotbed of Brazil, birthplace of Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr and Wild broadcaster Mike Greenlay.  He e-mailed his carefully considered realignment scenario to us.  After reading it, we asked him to use the FanPost feature to share his ideas with the community.

After reading this great proposal for realignment, I sent the Editors my two-cents on the issue. They offered me this space to share it with The Copper & Blue readers.

Basically, I began with the NFL/MLB structure as the reference, but my reasoning is a little bit different than Derek's; which lead to different results. My concern is basically to balance travel distance between the teams, which Derek took into consideration, but not as much as I do. I've imagined some mechanisms to maintain the existing rivalries as well.

Coincidentially, a Central Division it is the biggest flaw of my plan. It is the Central Division of the Wales Conference (I am very creative, so I have named the Conferences as "Wales" and "Campbell"), and I believe every team I have put there has something to complain about. That is something that will happen in any situation.

Here are the Conferences and Divisions:

WALES CONFERENCE

East Division

Central Division

West Division

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Canadiens

E, NE

Senators

E, NE

Sharks

W, P

Bruins

E, NE

Penguins

E, Atl.

Ducks

W, P

Rangers

E, Atl.

Blue Jackets

W, C

Coyotes

W, P

Devils

E, Atl.

Predators

W, C

Jets

E, SE

Lightning

E, SE

Wild

W, NW

Oilers

W, NW

 

 

CAMPBELL CONFERENCE

East Division

Central Division

West Division

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Team

Old Conf., Div.

Islanders

E, Atl.

Red Wings

W, C

Canucks

W, NW

Flyers

E, Atl.

Blackhawks

W, C

Flames

W, NW

Hurricanes

E, SE

Blues

W, C

Avalanche

W, NW

Capitols

E, SE

Maple Leafs

E, NE

Stars

W, P

Panthers

E, SE

Sabres

E, NE

Kings

W, P

 

Since this is not unchangeable nor foolproof, I want people to debate it. So, it follows below not just how I arrived at this conclusion, but how the schedule would be organized and how the playoffs would work as well.

 The Road Taken to Realignment

Step 1 – Divide the 30 teams geographically, in three areas with 10 teams each: East, Central and West. This sets in which kind of division the teams belong to.

East: Montreal, Boston, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida.

Central: Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Columbus, Nashville, Chicago, Minnesota and Saint Louis.

West: Winnipeg, Dallas, Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

 Step 2 – The Original Six in the same area must be in the same Conference; but the whole six cannot be in the same Conference.

            Conference "A", East Division: Montreal, Boston, NY Rangers.

            Conference "B", Central Division: Toronto, Detroit, Chicago.

 Step 2b – Conferences "A" and "B" will be named, respectively, as "Wales" and "Campbell" in accordance with the Conferences the Original Six used to play.

Step 3 – Some Eastern and Central teams that have geographical proximity and/or historical rivalry with one another must be in different conferences.

East 1: New Jersey/NY Islanders

East 2: Tampa Bay/Florida

Central 1: Ottawa/Buffalo

Central 2: Saint Louis/Nashville

 Step 3b – Since Ottawa is from the same province as Toronto, and NY Islanders is the closest team from the same state as the NY Rangers, they must be in a separate conference from their respective counterparts.

Wales Conference, East Division: Montreal, Boston, NY Rangers, New Jersey.

Wales Conference, Central Division: Ottawa.

Campbell Conference, East Division: NY Islanders.

Campbell Conference, Central Division: Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo.

Step 4 – Eastern and Central teams that are not listed in the previous "step" go straight to the division opposite to that of the Original Six.

Wales Conference, Central Division: Pittsburgh, Columbus, Minnesota.

Campbell Conference, East Division: Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina.

Step 5 – Some Western teams that have geographical proximity and/or historical rivalry with one another must be in different conferences.

West 1: Edmonton/Calgary

West 2: Los Angeles/Anaheim

Step 6 – Western teams not listed above, would be spread as far as geographically possible in the divisions.

 Step 6b – Due the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes is the continuation of the old Winnipeg Jets, it should play in the same Conference as the new one, and due the regional proximity with Phoenix, the Colorado Avalanche would play in the other.

Step 6c – Since Winnipeg is the 7th and last Canadian team to join the League, it should be in the conference with four Canadian teams.

Wales Conference, West Division: Winnipeg, San Jose, Phoenix.

            Campbell Conference, West Division: Vancouver, Dallas, Colorado.

Step 7 – The 4th spots in the West and the 5th spots in all divisions would be decided by "strength of rivalry". It is not an objective criteria, since this is changeable and can be subject to close calls, but in my opinion it still is the best solution to the matter.

Step 7a – Since the Tampa Bay Lightning have built a playoff rivalry against either Montreal and Boston, it goes for their division, leaving Florida to the other.

 Step 7b – Since the Saint Louis Blues have a strong rivalry against the Chicago Blackhawks (both cities have rivalries in other leagues too), it goes for its division, leaving Nashville to the other.

Step 7c – There is a thought that the Vancouver Canucks have a bigger rivalry with the Calgary Flames than the Edmonton Oilers, mainly due that Vancouver and Calgary have played more meaningful games against each other than Vancouver and Edmonton. Therefore, Vancouver and Calgary stay in the same division, leaving Edmonton to the other.

Step 7d – There is also a thought that the San Jose Sharks have a bigger rivalry against the Anaheim Ducks than the Los Angeles Kings, mainly due their playoff history. Therefore, San Jose and Anaheim stay in the same division, leaving L.A. to the other.

With these, all 30 teams are realigned as shown at the beginning; with both Conferences time-zone balanced (each has 8 EST, 3 CST, 2 MST and 2 PST teams).

* * *

League Structure

Schedule

A 82-games schedule would be organized as follows, in order to both make the travel distance more balanced throughout the league, to stimulate the old rivalries to survive, and to make everybody plays against each other at least once:

a) 32 games within the division (4 home, 4 away against each intradivisional rival);

b) 20 games within the conference (1 home, 1 away against each intraconference non-divisional rival);

 c) 20 games within the region (2 homes, 2 away against each interconference rival from the homonymous division);

 d) 10 games against the rest of the league (1 home or 1 away against the teams from the rest of the league).

The Oilers, for instance, would play in the regular season: 8 games against San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix and Winnipeg; 4 games against Vancouver, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas and Los Angeles; 2 games against Montreal, Boston, NY Rangers, New Jersey, Tampa, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Nashville and Minnesota; 1 game against NY Islanders, Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington, Florida, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Saint Louis and Buffalo.

Playoffs - Spots, Seedeing and HFA

Keeping the NFL/MLB influence, and due the fact that the schedule is much less conference-balanced than the current format, the playoff qualification would be weighted divisionally, with wildcards to compensate this. Hence, playoff qualifiers would be the top-2 from each division, plus the 2 best teams in the conferences that did not finished as top-2 in their divisions as wildcards.

Since the schedule is balanced divisionally, the playoff seeding relies on the divisions. The divisional winners, plus best runner-up, would be seeded as #1-4, according to theirs regular season records. The others would be #5-8, also according to the regular season.

Teams from the same division cannot play against each other in the first round. Otherwise, the matchups will be: #1 v. #8; #4 v. #5; #2 v. #7; #3 v. #6. From the second round onwards, teams will be realigned accordingly their seeds, and there is no restriction of opponent.

Divisional champions have home field advantage over non-champions, and in series between two divisional champions or between two non-champions will have HFA the team with best regular season record.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this FanPost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the staff.

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