The National League Hockey Players Association (NHLPA) has given the National Hockey League (NHL) consent to proceed with the new alignment plan that would take place starting the 2013-2014 season. The NHL will now present its proposal for realignment to the Board of Govenors on Thursday.
Also, as part of the agreement, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said in a statement released on Thursday that, “After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season.”
The realignment plan would mean big things for hockey, mainly shifting from six divisions to four, with two in each conference rather than three. One of the biggest and most storied NHL franchises, the Detroit Red Wings, would be moving back to the Eastern Conference while the Winnipeg Jets would move to the Western Conference. Overall, the east would have two more teams than the west would, with Columbus heading to the east as well.
One of the big reasons this came up last year and is on the verge of passing now is due to travel costs and schedules. Teams like the Red Wings and others far out west (for example the Sharks) have had a tough time with travel due to far greater distances from their opponents compared to teams in the Northeast and Southeast divisions.
Here’s a look at what the new proposed divisions will look like.
Right off the bat there are more teams in the east than the west which makes it just that much easier for Western Conference teams to make the playoffs. Perhaps some expansion is in store for in the west? Seattle perhaps?
My second thought is why they did not keep the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic division and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central? Interesting choice to say the least.
Other than that you cannot complain too much though, as the realignment will help plenty of teams in the short and long-term. Also, the Sharks have a 57% chance to make the playoffs next year compared to the teams in the east who have an even 50%. Perhaps “east coast bias” is not as strong as we think?