Archive for February, 2013

The 2013-14 Proposed NHL Realignment

Posted: February 27, 2013 in NHL

For the second time in as many years, the NHL is working on undergoing a complete realignment of its teams, instigated by the 2011 relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg as the Jets.  Located in Central Canada, Winnipeg has remained in the Southeast Division for each of the last two seasons, a division that also includes the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals – hardly natural rivals.

In December 2011, the league’s Board of Governors approved a radical realignment into four separate conferences; however, these efforts were rejected by the NHLPA.

The four unnamed conferences were to be as follows:

Conference A: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks

Conference B: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets

Conference C: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs

Conference D: Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals

Clearly, conferences A and B had more teams than conference C and D, though no perfect balance is possible in a thirty team league into four divisions, and many speculated that expansion was on the horizon.

Reports during the lockout surfaced that the league may look to add expansion franchises in Quebec and the Toronto suburb of Markham in the near future.  Finally, in February 2012, details began to leak of a new realignment and playoff system to begin in the 2013-14 season.  The Eastern and Western conference would remain intact in the new proposal, with each divided into two divisions.  The East would be composed of the Atlantic and Central divisions, and the West would consist of the Mid-West and Pacific divisions.  The top three teams in each division qualify for the post-season automatically, with two more teams qualifying as wild cards in either division within the conference’s playoffs.  The 1st seed would play the wild card team (the better 1st seed against the 2nd wild card and the 2nd highest against the first), while the second and third seeds in each division would play each other in the Division Semifinals.  The teams go on to play in the Division Finals, and it is possible for a team in the Atlantic Division to be Central Division champions due to the wild card cross-over rule.  A similar system is employed in the Canadian Football League, and formerly, Major League Soccer.  The Division winners would face off in the Conference Finals, followed by the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the new realignment, it is the Western divisions with just seven teams rather than the East, as both Detroit and Columbus have made the switch, with Winnipeg heading west.  The only major rivalry diminished is that of Chicago and Detroit.  The alignments are as follows:

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

Central Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

Western Conference

Mid-West Division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg

Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver


Under the current system, the playoff standings are currently as follows:

Eastern Conference: Montreal (27), Pittsburgh (26), Carolina (19), Boston (26), Ottawa (26), New Jersey (24), Toronto (24), Tampa Bay (19)

Western Conference: Chicago (35), Anaheim (27), Vancouver (24), Nashville (23), St. Louis (22), Dallas (22), Detroit (21), Los Angeles (20)

With the new system, the playoffs would be as follows (assuming same point totals):

Atlantic: Pittsburgh (26), New Jersey (24), Carolina (19)

Central: Montreal (27), Boston (26), Ottawa (26)

Eastern Conference Wild Card: Toronto (24), Detroit (21)

Mid-West: Chicago (35), Nashville (23), St. Louis (22)

Pacific: Anaheim (27), Vancouver (24), Los Angeles (20)

Western Conference Wild Card: Dallas (22), San Jose (19)


The only difference between the lists of teams qualifying for the playoffs between these two systems is that Detroit, currently 7th in the Western Conference, is instead the second Eastern Conference wild card, knocking Tampa Bay out of the mix and letting San Jose enter as the second wild card in the Western Conference.  While some teams may be better off in the current system, the new system will put extra emphasis on divisional games, especially with the new division-oriented post-season.


The current bracket for the first round would be:

Atlantic: #4 Detroit @ #1 Pittsburgh, #3 Carolina @ #2 New Jersey

Central: #4 Toronto @ #1 Montreal, #3 Ottawa @ #2 Boston

Mid-West: #4 San Jose @ #1 Chicago, #3 St. Louis @ #2 Nashville

Pacific: #4 Dallas @ #1 Anaheim, #3 Los Angeles @ #2 Vancouver

Three wild card teams cross over to another division in this system, with Toronto being the only number four seed to remain within its own division, and the Central Division being the only division to send five of its teams to the post-season.