Last night on Hockey Night in Canada there was a discussion about the proposed realignment that is going to go to vote at the Board of Governors meetings this week. The proposed system that was displayed last night was a four division format that would completely do away with the East and West conferences.
The playoffs would also be changed due to the new format and after looking at it I have to say it is exactly what the NHL needs to do. Before I get to that let me just say that this new proposal would benefit the Flyers because of the addition of the Washington Capitals to their division. Yes the Carolina Hurricanes are going to be added as well, but come on its not a premiere team right now, though it has the opportunity to grab more eye balls by playing in this division.
Perhaps more importantly the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to stay in the division. There were some models that projected the Penguins moving over in a division with Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, St.Louis, but the NHL would be incredibly stupid to move the Pens out of a division with their natural rivals (Philadelphia) and the stuffed down our throat rivals (Washington).
With new divisions comes new playoffs and with this concept the postseason is set to become even more exciting. The top four teams from each division would make the playoffs based on point totals. The first two rounds of the playoffs would take place within the division. Say the playoffs were going to start with this model right now, this is what they would look like:
1.) Pittsburgh vs. 4.) Washington
2.) New York Rangers vs. 3.) Philadelphia Flyers
1.) Boston vs. 4.) Buffalo
2.) Florida vs. 3.) Toronto
1.) Minnesota vs. 4.) Detroit
2.) Chicago vs. 3.) Dallas
Interesting note here; these are the top four teams currently in the Western Conference, which would mean that St. Louis would be the odd team out, the Blues are sixth in the current format.
West: 1.) Vancouver vs. 4.) Pheonix
2.) Los Angeles vs. 3.) San Jose
Just look at those matchups for a second, Penguins-Capitals, Rangers-Flyers, Boston-Buffalo, Minnesota-Detroit, Los Angeles-San Jose, all in the first round! After the first two rounds of the playoffs the four teams would be reseeded based on their point totals, so there would be a possibility of a Flyers/Red Wings or Penguins/Blackhawks semifinal.
More must see matchups should equal out to higher ratings, but that isn’t totally what this new proposal is about. It finally gives the league some much needed balance and it keeps the integrity of the old rivalries, while adding potential new ones for fans of this generation.
Tell me what you think of the new format on Twitter @Scottdargis.