Thursday, March 5, 2009

NHL Realignment: Scouts v. Blues Would Be Just As Good as Royals v. the Cards (An OT Post)

One of my favorite blogs, Uni Watch, shared a neat link about the past (and future) of the NHL in Kansas City, where I have a bunch of hockey-lovin' and playin' relatives. (This Saturday, go Chip!)

The Kansas City Scouts joined the league with the Capitals, but then ended up moving to become the Colorado Rockies (bringing the mountain west Don Cherry and "Rock and Roll, Part 2"), and then turning into the New Jersey Devils. It has a nice new arena waiting for a major league tenant, and it continues to be used as leverage for any NHL or NBA team angling for new digs, just like Tampa Bay's domed stadium was for more almost two decades prior to getting the Rays via expansion.

Which is all a roundabout way to saying that the NHL needs to get smart to better compete for the shrinking North American entertainment dollar. To that end, number one is re-alignment, which I've goofed around with for a long time before this article took it on.

I don't do fantasy sports, so, y'know, give me a break.

Travel expenses must be reduced, rivalries intensified, and league-wide exposure increased. So, I propose: go to four divisions (which I have optimized for regional rivalries, though Buffalo tortures me), play each team not in your division home and home, and play the rest of your games against your division.

In the playoffs, you have to play out of your division and, just to throw in a few extra playoff gates, have seeds 4 and 5 do a home-and-home total goal playoff, like soccer. And, just for fun, forget the conferences and rotate the divisions in the last two rounds, like the NCAA basketball tournament. Ever since the league had the Stanley Cup Playoff logo with "west" on the right and "east" on the left, I've sensed that NHL's conferences were, perhaps, false distinctions.

My proposed divisions:

> New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus, Boston

> Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

> Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville

> Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Colorado and Phoenix

The odds of this happening? Slim to none.

The ability to post this because I have this little soapbox? Total and absolute.

Enjoy and discuss.

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