Michael DeNicola

 

While we create trenches in our living room floor pacing back and forth waiting for any news regarding Bryzgalov's possible career here in Philadelphia, there are other NHL stories to consider. The short term subject matter is, of course, the NHL's Entry Draft hosted by the Minnesota Wild on June 24th. Another may be the announcement of Winnipeg's newly acquired hockey club's team name. 

But speaking of Winnipeg -- The league will have to undergo a realignment in its divisions. Though NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman has said Winnipeg will stay in the Eastern Conference's SouthEast Division for the 2011-12 season, there's absolutely no way they can remain there once the League Year is finished. And the only reason Winnipeg will keep the once Atlanta Thrashers' division spot is because the league is almost finished with finalizing the 2011-12 schedule. 

So what comes of the Divisions post June, 2012? The answer; One or more franchises have to move Conferences. 

 

If you Google this motion you're surely to have hundreds of results show up belonging to blogs,online news sources and newspapers everywhere. Each reporting the same speculation, and even some proposing their own ideas on how the league should handle this realignment. 

This article is not a far cry from it all either. 

 

Try to remember as far back as 1993 when Zack Morris used a cell phone larger than a fully loaded Suburban and Compact Discs were a window into the future. 

The NHL prior to this date were using Conference names such as The Campbell Conference and The Prince of Wales Conference before going all geographical on our asses and renaming them The Western and Eastern Conferences. 

The six Divisions you read about, hear about and talk about today were once only four, and NOT named after their terrestrial longitudes and latitudes:

Clarence Campbell Conference (West)

Prince of Wales Conference (East)

 

These Divisions were named after founding businessmen, former players and coaches instrumental to the league and its history. And if you ask me, adds so much more face than what the Divisions are called today. 

But there's a problem -- There's six Divisions now because there's 30 teams total in the NHL. That number is indivisible by 4, which means if the league's realignment were to return to these Divisions, then there'd be one extra club in one Division. 

Not gonna work. 

 

Okay, so here it goes -- The league should go back to using the Conference and Division names prior to the Benstein Act of 1993, and only add one more (two total) Divisions to each Conference. 

Here are PhillyReign writer, Joe Bogle's proposed Division names;

  1. The Gordie Howe Division (or Howe Division for short) to the Prince of Wales Conference (East). 
  2. The Wayne Gretzky Division (or Gretzky Division for short) to the Clarence Campbell Conference (West).

The reasons for the names I need not explain. But why are they appointed to the Conferences that they are? To answer that, I highlight the Howe Division and one of The Original 6 clubs, the Detroit Red Wings. 

 

A team rumored to trade Conferences with Winnipeg after the 2011-12 NHL season is Detroit. Word is that the Wings "desperately" want to move East because of time zone issues. If they're not playing away games against a Divisional rival, most of the time they're stuck battling with fellow Conference rivals in a different time zone than Detroit's. The club's TV ratings suffer when Hockeytown fans are asked "to stay up late to watch most of [their] road games."

This is all speculation, but I'm going to run with it anyway. Though there are arguments against Detroit swapping Conferences with Winnipeg, I believe this is the best solution and the way it will happen. If not for the desolating time zone differences, then definitely to reunite Original 6 rivalries within the same Conference. 

So naturally if one team substitutes the other, the Conferences' Divisions need adjusting. Here is my proposed league breakdown;

Clarence Campbell Conference

  • Patrick Division
  1. San Jose
  2. Anaheim
  3. Phoenix
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Dallas
  • Smythe Division
  1. Chicago
  2. St. Louis
  3. Columbus
  4. Minnesota
  5. Nashville
  • Gretzky Division
  1. Vancouver
  2. Calgary
  3. Edmonton
  4. Winnipeg/Manitoba
  5. Colorado

 

Prince of Wales Conference

  • Norris Division
  1. Washington
  2. New York (Islanders)
  3. Carolina
  4. Tampa Bay
  5. Florida
  • Adams Division
  1. Montreal
  2. Boston
  3. New York (Rangers)
  4. New Jersey
  5. Philadelphia
  • Howe Division
  1. Detroit
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. Buffalo
  4. Toronto
  5. Ottawa

 

I had to split up the New York franchises. It's bad enough we have two of 'em, they're currently in the same Atlantic Division. 

No thanks.

And, to be honest, geographically speaking it makes more sense switching Philly with the Isles but I cannot stand the thought of our biggest Division rival being Washington. The Flyers deserve more than that. I'd also LOVE to see our boys up against Boston and Montreal six times each per regular season schedule. 

I have a soft spot for rich history, and it doesn't get more hockey historical than Les Canadiens de Montréal and the B's from Beantown. 

 

Whether you agree with any of this or not, something's going to happen. Winnipeg's club is NOT going to remain an Eastern team so someone from the West is getting pushed to the East on paper. 

But whatever happens, at least all of us can rejoice and celebrate that the best sport is no longer wasted in THE worst professional sports town in North America. 

 

 

 

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