The NHL recently configured a four conference alignment, to go into place next season.
Hockey fans should be asking “Where will my team play and who against?” Let’s break down the conferences, which are still unnamed.
Conference A is all of the Western teams of the Anaheim Ducks, the Calgary Flames, the Colorado Avalanche, the Edmonton Oilers, the Los Angeles Kings, the Phoenix Coyotes, the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks.
Conference B deals with the Midwestern teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Dallas Stars, the Detroit Red Wings, the Minnesota Wild, the Nashville Predators, the Saint Louis Blues, and the Winnipeg Jets.
Conferences C and D are dealt with the Eastern teams, but are split differently. The C Conference has Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. Conference D deals with Carolina, New Jersey, both New York teams, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington.
One nice thing about the alignment is how the rivalries are still in tact. Columbus gets to play Detroit, the Pennsylvania teams are together, the two Florida teams are together, etc…
Another nice detail is the “home-and-home” deal, where all teams play at least twice.
One question I have is how will this grid be realigned if a team does relocate? We have all heard by now that Quebec City passed a bill to protect a big corporation from any lawsuits dealing with building an arena fit for today’s NHL standards. We’ve also heard quite frequently that Phoenix is going to fly out of the desert.
If the new Nordiques were to form soon, how many ripples will that create? If the Islanders are the team to pack up and leave, that makes it easier for travel reasons, but not for rivalry reasons unless you swap out a team from Conference C. If Phoenix leaves and does land in Quebec City, then what? You can’t make them play where all the West Coast teams play (well you could, but for the sake of argument…) You could possibly flop teams around, like Dallas now plays in A and you have the new team playing in either C or D.
I do like the new setup. As a Blue Jackets fan, we get to see the Jets more, as well as continue to play the Blackhawks, Predators, Blues, and Red Wings.
Something else I forgot to mention are the games outside the Eastern timezone. The Blue Jackets will only have eight games to play out of the Eastern timezone.
We’ll see how it pans out for next year.
Sources of information from ESPN, the website of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the CBC.
Until next time,