N.H.L. Realigment Part One

By Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 28, 2011

OAKLAND, CA. (BASN)–The Four Wise men (I mean the Four Commissioners of Major League Sports) now have the opportunity to realign and improve their leagues.

Divisions and conferences might look different in the future. I have taken it upon myself to help save the four leagues money, travel expenses, gas prices, enhance local rivalries, and provide early local television time.

Commissioner Gary Bettman will be the first on the list because of the recent events in Atlanta.

The National Hockey League has changed many times with a multitude of expansions in the Southern United States and in Western Canada.

In the 1968-69 the first major expansion the league doubled its size from the original six to 12 with teams in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Minnesota, Oakland, and Los Angeles. The NHL created a Western Division for the new teams; keeping the Original Six in another division. The older teams would dominate the younger teams until the rise of the orange and black on Broad Street, Philadelphia.

It would take five years before an expansion team would win the Stanley Cup and it would be the rough and ready “Broad Street Bullies” The Philadelphia Flyers with back to back championships 1974-1975.

The first Expansion dynasty would be the New York Islanders in the 1980′s winning 4 Cups in a row. The Run and Gun Isles pushed the scoring envelope with Mike “La Machine” Bossy, Denis Potvin, and Bryan Trottier. Bossy became the first to score 50 goals in 50 games since Montreal‘s Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

The door opened for minority players like Willie O’Ree for the Boston Bruins 1958-1961. But the player who broke the ice hockey color barrier during the Great Depression was Herb Carnegie with the New York Ranger organization. The first Black Captain was Dirk Graham for the Chicago Blackhawks; Tony McKegney of the Buffalo Sabres in the late 1970s & 1980s wore the alternate captain “A” for a good part of his career there.

The first Goal Brother to hold up the Stanley Cup in victory was Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr of the Edmonton Oilers with their 4 year run.

The NHL had to fend off the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA) which had teams in the American Midwest and Canada in the 1970s. The WHA started raiding the NHL, in 1974, with 67 players switching leagues. The biggest name to cross into the new league was Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The war would come to an end in 1979 when the two leagues merged into one. The NHL taking the four strongest WHA teams. The Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, and Hartford Whalers. The Oilers would be the first team from the WHA to win the Stanley Cup with the Great One number 99 Wayne Gretzky. Edmonton did it four more times.

The League expanded to the south and west in the 90′s with teams like the Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, and Carolina Hurricanes (nee Whalers) migrating south from Hartford, Connecticut.

The San Jose Sharks would start a-new, Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes from Canada, along with the Dallas Stars from Minnesota would try the western market again.

Now the league is looking at another major realignment in the 2012-2013 seasons.

This summer The Atlanta Thrashers packed up their bags and started their trek north to Midwestern Canada, creating a seismic shift in the NHL’s six divisions. This is the 2nd hockey team from Atlanta to move north the first team the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary in 1980-81.

This would be the opportune time for Commissioner Bettman to realign each division. This would be the ideal time for NHL to place teams in different divisions, conferences, and in the same time zone. Making it easier to travel and putting teams closer together. This would create more fans if they are in the same time zones, hockey fans could watch their home team at sensible hours.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

Los Angeles Kings

Phoenix Coyotes

San Jose Sharks

Vancouver Canucks

This was a no-brainier with teams wanting to be in the same time zone and the possibility of the Coyotes moving to Seattle, Washington. This alignment would accomplish said goal on the west coast. The Coyotes in Washington State would be great for the Vancouver Canucks to have a natural cross boarder rival. It would also help not to have divisional games with the Dallas Stars two time zones away.

Northwest Division

Calgary Flames

Colorado Avalanche

Edmonton Oilers

Minnesota Wild

Winnipeg Jets

The Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets moving to Canada makes this division very interesting and logical as Mr. Spock, from the Starship Enterprise would say. Creating a strong Midwest Canadian flavor. The six Goal Brothers (Black players) would dominate this division.

The two best Goal Brothers in the league would play each other more Jarome Iginla-Calgary Flames and Dustin Byfuglin-Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.

The Colorado Avalanche would be the odd team in this division but where do you put them if not in this division?

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

Detroit Red Wings

Minnesota Wild

St. Louis Blues

The Dallas Stars would be the odd team in this division who could be moved to the revamped southeastern division. The League wants to have the Blackhawks and the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference. Because of Chicago‘s superstar and super brat Patrick Kane, and the many traveling fans of the Red Army of Detroit.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Southeast Division

Carolina Hurricanes

Dallas Stars

Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators

Tampa Bay Lightning

This could be called the new NASCAR division for the NHL and would create many great competitive games with four solid teams and a big new fan base. This also would be geographically correct and would save money traveling during the season. The Washington Capitals would fit well in this division but the league wants to see Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin in the New York-New Jersey metro media market.

The influences of the Versus Network might force the Commissioner’s hand placing both Pittsburgh and Washington in the Atlantic Division and moving the New York Islanders out of the division. The Islanders would move north in that tough Northeast Division. This would be tragic for the Flushing Meadows fans losing the Ranger, Devil, and Flyer divisional games. The Islander players would lose because of the many miles of winter travel.

Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

Washington Capitols

The Metro Corridor Division. Each team are less then an hour away by plane and less then three hours away by motor vehicle. The Pittsburgh Penguins might make this division an all Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey lock. Again the league would love to have superstar Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby in this division and the New York-New Jersey Metro-Media market. We cannot forget the Versus Television Network would love it too.

Northeast Division

Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabers

Toronto Maple Leafs

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh Penguins

They call this the Arctic Circle Division. The Detroit Red Wings would fit into this division, leaving the Penguins to move eastward into the Atlantic. The Wings would move to the Eastern Conference replacing the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets who transferred to the Western Conference in Winnipeg.

All of these changes would occur after the 2011-2012 season. So write the commissioner and tell him what you think. The last time the league had a major change was 2000-2001 let’s all make this realignment correct for all teams.

Next:- National Football League Realignment

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod.