You, Me, And Realigning


So by now you’ve heard about the NHL’s proposed realignment plan and how the teams would be split up into four conferences (or divisions, if you prefer that) in the 8-8-7-7 format.

Well, Austin, it means a few different things.


Obviously, under the current (leaked) plan, the divisions were basically formed according to time zone. The two eastern conferences consist of teams currently in the eastern time zone, and the two conferences in the west are made up of 6CT/1MT (Colorado, the farthest east) and 4PT/3MT. Obviously, this is way more favorable for the west teams as now they’re not traveling 2 or 3 time zones away with regularity. It also makes travel more North-South instead of the N-S-W-E alignment in the current makeup.

This season, the Flames will travel 44000 kilometers. Last year, it was almost 80 thousand. Now, the Flames will have either the large minority or majority of their schedule – likely in between 36 and 46 games – in-division, meaning all of those come the within more natural flight paths and easier time constraints. This also helps Sportsnet and TSN, as now there won’t be 4+ games per year starting before 530 and games starting at 9 and 10 PM ET since the Blue Jackets and Red Wings are no longer in the “west”.

Lastly, this helps to even out travel kilometers throughout the league: teams in the Atlantic division as it’s currently constituted have 5 or 6 teams within a short bus trip of them. This means that currently 57 games the Rangers play are within a drive from their house earlier in the day. Now, these teams will have to go to Carolina, Florida and further west with regularity.


Division Record in 2011-2012: 15-6-3 (1.375 PPG)

Non-Division Record in 2011-2012: 22-23-13 (.983 PPG)

Division Record in 2011-2012 adjusted for this plan: 16-11-9 (1.139 PPG)

Non-Division, Western Record in 2011-2012 adjusted for this plan: 5-7-2 (.857 PPG)

Non-Division, Eastern Record in 2011-2012 adjusted for this plan: 13-15-4 (.994 PPG)

Points in 2011-2012: 90 (37-29-16)

Points in 2011-2012 adjusted for this plan: 83 (34-33-15)

I used the records of the Flames against Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles plus a point percentage of about 50% (i.e. 8 points “gained” in the extra 8 games) based on their division and non-division record in 2011-2012 to figure out the updated record. I also used the records of the Flames against Minnesota and Colorado plus a point percentage of about 50% (i.e. 2 points “lost” in the extra 4 games) as well.

As you can see, the results are a little bit different than what we saw. Part of the reason the Flames were so close to the playoffs last year was because they dominated the Northwest division. With two of the weak sisters gone, they lose a lot of potential points. If this system were in place last year, I believe the Flames would’ve either finished 10th or 11th, but that’s just looking at last year’s actual standings.


While the Flames might not see more of the Canucks and Oilers, it’s important to make a note that less “noise” from other teams will give the appearance that in-division rivalry games stand out.

Maybe a minor thing from an ownership standpoint but a big thing from a fan standpoint.

Personally, I like this new plan. I don’t see any issues with the playoff format as I believe we’re likely to see some kind of expansion into Seattle and Quebec City in the next five or so years, giving the league 32 teams. The league seems to be acting with some degree of foresight and forward thinking, which is a refreshing change of pace.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I have to agree that this realignment is a good thing for the league overall. For the NW division expanding to include SJ & LA, etc. I think it becomes a tight division. Wild cards will favor the West for a change. I think the movement of Detroit going East is a great change for the Red Wings and the Det-Tor rivalry to be renewed. While not having the Peg in the same division as the other western Canadian teams is unfortunate, you can’t get everything you want and they’ll still come out West with more regularity than they have this season or last…and let’s face it, it just makes sense to stay with the “central” teams.

  • McRib

    Even though it benefits us, not a major fan of the uneven divisions and why does the NHL keep insisting on having East & West Conferences? Now that Detroit is gone the Eastern Media is going to be completely out of touch of the Western Conference….

    Prefer the AFC/NFC & American/National Leagues geographical spread of NFL/MLB. The two most successful Professional Sports Leagues in North America might be onto something… They should stick the Pacific/Central & Mid-West/Atlantic together. Not to mention it would make it much easier for future relocation.

    Campbell Conference

    Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

    Wales Conference

    Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

  • McRib

    Is there any realignment scenario’s that would see us in a division that includes the Brooks Bandits, Okotoks Oilers, Olds Grizzlies, etc? That way Feaster’s dream could come true. We would finally finish eighth and might make a run for it in the post-season.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Only thing I don’t like is the differing number of teams in the divisions. I’d rather see them expand or contract sooner rather than later (and since contraction seems not to be an option, expansion it is!).

  • beloch


    I totally agree with you: in some ways the worst thing about this plan is it kind of guarantees at least one more season in Phoenix – unless Seattle’s ready to go.

  • schevvy

    The only reason for realignment is because Winnipeg is moving west. The simple solution would be to move the jets to the central and Nashville to the Southeast, but it seems like the NHL owes a favor to Detroit to finally move them east and Columbus would benefit a lot from doing the same.

    Id like to see the NHL get rid of the east and west conferences completely.

    Simply go with 5 divisions based on location and rivalries.

    playoffs would be full 1vs16 2vs15 3vs14 etc. Playoff tiebreakers would go to least travel amount for the higher seed with the higher seed having the option of format 2-2-1-1-1 or 2-3-2.

    These would be the divisions

    Division A – Anaheim, Colorado, LA, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

    Division B – Calgary, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, St Louis, Winnipeg

    Division C – Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville, Ottawa, Toronto

    Division D – Carolina, Florida, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington

    Division E – Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, New Jersey, New York, New York

    8 division games (4 home/4 road) 40 games
    2 games vs rest of league (1 home/1 road) 36 games

    then with the remaining 6 games, make them the networks choice. Maybe there was a great playoff series the season before or CBC wants more Canadian teams playing each other. They could either do a home and home set or have 6 different matchups.

      • schevvy

        Tell me of one time where a team had a b2b in Det then travelled to LA for the next game. If there ever was a b2b it would be Chicago then Detroit, or Anaheim then SJ or Pitt then Philly.

  • RKD

    Detroit has been lobbying for move to the East for years, they will finally get their wish.

    As for the Flames the travel schedule in the West is a lot tougher, anything to help out an older squad is better. What would Iggy and Kipper have been like the past few years with a reduction in 50% of their travel schedule? We’ll never know but probably a lot fresher!