Friday, February 3, 2012

A NEW National Hockey League

Inspired by Tom Fulrey's blog, the NHL Reallignment Project, I decided to throw my hat into the league re-rigging game and have come up with entirely new hockey league.

Details after the BREAK

North West:
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Portland Wolves
Seattle Totems
Vancouver Canucks

South West:
Denver Avalanche
Los Angeles Kings
Salt Lake City Grizzlies
San Diego Ducks
San Jose Sharks

Mid West:
Chicago Blackhawks
Detroit Red Wings
Minneapolis Wild
St Louis Blues
Winnipeg Jets

North East:
Boston Bruins
Hartford Whalers
Montreal Canadians
Quebec Nordiques
Ottowa Senators

South East:
Atlanta Thrashers
Dallas Stars
Miami Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals

Mid East:
Buffalo Sabres
New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Toronto Maple Leafs

Gained Teams: Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake, San Diego, Hartford, Quebec, Atlanta

Lost Teams: New York, New Jersey, Phoenix, Anaheim, Columbus, Carolina, Nashville

No conferences: Instead of uniting three divisions to have North v South or East v West, each division stands on its own. Each sends one rep to the playoffs, guaranteeing a wider interested audience during the playoffs (Unlike the NFL, where if St Louis and Kansas City are reps for the West divisions, the Pacific coast has no stake in the results).
Sorted by straight geography: Before, divisions would stretch from Winnipeg to Miami, and Edmonton to Denver. Now, the NHL has the most compact divisions of any of the five major sports leagues in North America. No divisional game will necessitate a trip of more than one time zone, keeping players fresh.
RIVALS RIVALS RIVALS: Rivalries are the lifeblood of any sports league, and a big reason why NHL hasn't found much of a foothold beyond it's historical homes. Other than Dallas, no team is far from an obvious rival. Seattle and Portland instantly combine with Vancouver for one of the more enjoyable trifectas in the country (don't believe me? See "The Cascadia Cup"), Denver is faced with their eternal rivals in Salt Lake, Quebec City renews its bad blood with Montreal and the return of the Whalers gives Boston a little brother to pick on once again. All of the league's most storied rivalries are intact, with eight Boston-Montreal, eight Detroit-Chicago, eight Philadelphia-New York, eight Toronto-Buffalo, and eight Calgary-Edmonton each year. Toronto meets Ottowa four times each year.

four teams three times home and away: 24 games. 

RIVAL Division (North West v South West, North East v Mid East, Mid West v South East)
five teams twice home and away: 20 games. 

ALL others:
20 teams once home and once away: 40 games

Total: 84 games, +2

Top team from each division plus two teams with next best record, eight teams.
1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5 REGARDLESS OF DIVISION.
Series are five games until the semifinals, which go to seven games.


  • Since the Islanders and Devils have been eliminated from the league, it would be this author's hope that the Rangers would expand to 22,000 per game, giving them a chance to reach the 1,000,000 mark.
  • Dallas is a huge market, so it'd be a shame to see the league pull out. But if they have to, put that team in Milwaukee, and put them in the Midwest division. Then, move St Louis into the southeast, balancing the divisions out again. 


  1. I could have swore I posted something here, I guess it didn't go through. I really like this alignment, it's quite good and sweeping. I'm not sure I see the need to go back to Atlanta, I would rather see a team stay in Nashville, but that makes little difference in the grand scheme of things.

    I really like the teams you have, and if you want to do this further, I think it could be cool to expand another team each to Toronto and New York, then we could get a nice symmetrical West, Central, North, and East setup of eight teams each.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. I think maybe you just posted to the realignment blog.

      I think my baseball roots give me a bias towards Atlanta over more... "country" cities. It's part of why I moved Carolina as well. They just don't strike me as sports towns, let alone frozen rink towns. The only way hockey will catch on in the south is if it catches on in big markets, ala Miami, Dallas, Atlanta. At least, that's the way I see it.
      As for expansion, I've never really seen the point in having two teams in a single market. There are so many failure stories (Giant's-A's, Lakers-Clippers, 49ers-Raiders, Rangers-Islanders, Cubs-Sox, Galaxy-Chivas USA) with few successes. My opinion is, if there's that much demand for the sport, build a bigger arena. NY could perhaps reach 1,000,000 tickets sold in a single year if it cut the Islander/New Jersey fat and grew their capacity.
      So I'd like to see two of Seattle-Quebec City-Hamilton. As a Seattlite, you can imagine I have a few hangups about taking someone else's team (ala Sonics). I'd be willing to wait a few years to get that expansion team that we can start our own history with rather than take someone else's (a topic I wrote about in a more recent post on this blog). But were those two teams Hamilton and Quebec, it'd work similarly in a realignment discussion to new Toronto-NY teams.

      One city that probably wouldn't work (but would be interesting to see) is hockey in New Orleans. Dallas was the one city I didn't give a natural rival to, and I feel bad about putting Washington in the south. They'll likely be losing their basketball soon (bad sign) but that does open up the market.

  2. Why do you have them as the Denver Avalanche and the Miami Panthers?

    You want to put a team in Atlanta... Failed twice.

    You want to put teams in San Diego and Salt Lake City... Even though they don't have buildings big enough.

    Did you do any research before writing this?

    1. I have them as Denver and Miami because I LOATHE having sports teams named after the state instead of the city. Same with the Colorado Rockies, Rapids, Texas Rangers, etc. I was pretty happy to hear that the Marlins finally made the switch.

      Atlanta is a huge market, and like I said in one of the other posts, if Hockey is EVER going to catch on in the south, it has to be in those big markets. From what I understand, the move was more from an ownership issue this time than it was a fan issue (though certainly attendance wasn't good). If it had simply been about the numbers at the gate, then wouldn't the NY Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, and Columbus Blue Jackets all be gone by now?

      As for the arenas... Clearly this is all very speculative, a "perfect world" scenario if you will. Seattle doesn't have an arena either, but I think SEA, San Diego, and Salt Lake are ripe, untapped hockey markets, or at least markets that would be good for the league to go into. I'm nearly positive about Seattle and Salt Lake (SD might be too warm, but have NO winter sports right now). And Anaheim clearly doesn't care about the Ducks, so why not move them an hour south?

    2. In fact, almost no where that I have teams expanding to has a suitable arena right now. Not Seattle, not Quebec, not Hamilton, not San Diego, not Salt Lake, and not Hamilton. Yet at least four of those are thought to be pretty solid expansion/ migration locations. The Coyotes have to move somewhere, and it's probably not going to be to Kansas City (the only real place with a suitable arena).

  3. I liked the effort you made to bring the Cascadia rivalry to the ice rink. The only modifications I would make is that Nashville should probably have a franchise over Atlanta, especially now that they have found some postseason success, and maybe trying to preserve/install a Nashville/Carolina rivalry

    I like maintaining at least 2/3 of the Mountain-Desert triad (PHX, SLC, DEN) but don't really have a preference towards which 2 of the 3 to keep. Personally I'd rather move the Ducks or Kings to the 3rd (I hate it when one city has multiple teams) but with The Ducks having a movie about them and the Kings about to win the cup, I don't see it happening

    1. I agree about having multi-team cities, so I moved the Ducks to San Diego.

      I don't really think of Nashville as a sports town. Maybe that's unfair (and I'm not sure Atlanta deserves the moniker) but growing up loving baseball, Atlanta feels more correct.

  4. Whoa I just actually read that Ducks moved to SD instead of looking at the map and assuming it was Anaheim but closely spaced. My apologies for misinterpretation. Personally I would move the Ducks to Phoenix (or keep the Coyotes in PHX and move the Ducks to Portland, but rename would be needed for sure) for that triad but I could understand a move to San Diego

  5. OK, I like giving San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City,Atlanta, Quebec, and Hartford teams but why do you kill the devs, they have a nice arena and great fans, same with Carolina and Nashville Though I understand Columbus, Anaheim (too close to the kings anyway) and Phoenix losing teams.

    1. I might have said this above, but I am of the opinion that those living in New Jersey should have no problem going into New York to watch a game. The Rangers (if they expanded the Garden) could get wonderful attendance numbers if they were the only team in the market. And in my perfect world, there would only be one team in each market.

  6. Dude, the Wild don't play in Minneapolis. They play across the river in Saint Paul. Did you flunk geography?

    1. And the Giants don't play in New York. It's kind of beside the point for me.

    2. But the Giants also don't play Philadelphia.

    3. It means that Minneapolis and Saint Paul are 2 different cities, like San Fransisco and Oakland.

      Here, I'll show you a picture so you get the concept.

      Minneapolis is in the background and Saint Paul is in the foreground.

    4. What a surprise. Turns out Harrison (New Jersey) is also separate from New York City. And Glendale is separate from Phoenix. And Carson from LA. Yet all of these cities host teams within their own borders with the name of the larger city above their crest.

      Minneapolis is far better known than St Paul. Even if the team plays across the water, it'd far more likely wear the Minneapolis name than that of St Paul.

    5. But Harrison NJ, Glendale and Carson, CA aren't major cities in their own right. Saint Paul (Pop of nearly 300K, Oakland (Pop of nearly 400K) and San Jose (Pop of nearly 1M) are cities in their own rights. And none of them are the state capital and the older major city in their metro area.

      Honestly, it doesn't matter what you would wear. The NHL's job isn't to market to west coast based blog writers. The NHL's job is to market themselves to the fans themselves in their team's local area and to market the game in general. A hypothetical MPLS Wild would fail to market themselves in the local area by calling themselves MPLS. Here's why: nobody in STP would buy a MPLS Wild jersey because they represent MPLS. Nobody in MPLS would buy an MPLS Wild jersey because they play in STP. Nobody in outstate MN would buy an MPLS wild jersey because the state doesn't identify with the city of MPLS as the definite "city". People over here are very regional. And FYI, hockey teams generally don't wear the names of their locations on their jerseys, save for ironically the Minnesota Wild. This isn't the NBA where most teams wear their city or state's name on their jerseys.

      I think you should stick to talking about basketball. It's more your cup of tea.

    6. Maybe it hasn't been clear thus far, but no one knows or cares about St Paul nationally. Ask someone in New York or Miami or Los Angeles about Minnesota, and I can guarantee they won't point to St Paul as the predominant city.

      As an example of what I'd like to see happen, the Tampa Bay Rays play in St Petersburg (pop. 250,000), but still wear the name of the bigger city. They could be called the Florida Rays, but they didn't go that route. I'd bet that people who live in St Petersburg still buy Rays jerseys.

      I don't expect the NHL to market to me. From the beginning I have put this post together based on how I'd like to see the league. In the end, you took exception to a pretty minor aspect of this post (especially considering the several other teams I switched from state names to city names).

  7. Using your argument of naming teams after the largest city in a given metro, we'd have the San Jose Sharks, San Jose Giants, San Jose Raiders, San Jose 49ers, the San Jose Warriors and the San Jose As.

    "Maybe it hasn't been clear thus far, but no one knows or cares about St Paul nationally. Ask someone in New York or Miami or Los Angeles about Minnesota, and I can guarantee they won't point to St Paul as the predominant city."

    1. People from the coasts wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Missouri from Michigan and Minnesota.
    2. I speak for everybody in the Midwest when I say this: Only people from the coasts care about what some sheltered oyster shuckers from the coasts think.
    3. Locally, there's no "predominant city" because both cities are equally important. One is important politically and one is important economically. If an EF5 tornado struck either city's downtown, the metro area and the state's economy would collapse.

    "As an example of what I'd like to see happen, the Tampa Bay Rays play in St Petersburg (pop. 250,000), but still wear the name of the bigger city. They could be called the Florida Rays, but they didn't go that route. I'd bet that people who live in St Petersburg still buy Rays jerseys."

    LOL! This is what would likely happen.

    The Rays would end up alienating their Pinellas County fans and the Tampa fans wouldn't want to support a team that represents Tampa but doesn't play in Tampa. Team ends up alienating their market and moves. Happened to the Lakers and nearly happened to the Cavs when they played in the Richfield/Akron area.

    "I don't expect the NHL to market to me."

    Then why write about it?

    "From the beginning I have put this post together based on how I'd like to see the league."

    How you see the league is kind of based on a lack of knowledge about hockey and of sports in general. The Isles aren't leaving Long Island, being that they just secured a lease in the Barclay's center, the Coyotes have an ironclad lease which pretty much prevents them from leaving Arizona without a huge buyout, a team in Salt Lake City wouldn't survive because they'd be competing with the much more popular and well established Jazz in a smaller market which can only support one winter sports team. And as for Atlanta getting a team back.... You have a better chance of selling the "Minneapolis Wild" to the fans at the XCel Energy Center than Atlanta ever getting a team back.

    Go back to writing about basketball.

    1. Wow, this is quite funny.
      The Tampa Bay Rays ACTUALLY DO PLAY in St Petersburg. That wasn't a hypothetical.
      You do know I changed the Timberwolves to a "Minneapolis" team as well, right?

  8. Not bad, I just don't see Atlanta having a third kick at the can with an NHL franchise, I like the tight realignment and I'd like to see it go that way. The Islanders are in NY and won't be going anywhere til 2040 as far as the lease goes, and I hope they don't move. Nashville although not the most traditional market, is pretty strong and not going anywhere either. Id like to see a team in Seattle, definitely one in QC and a Toronto 2. I wish PHX would get it's affairs in order, it's really a great place to watch a hockey game. KC has the arena, just needs an owner.

    I don't know if Portland is big enough to support an NBA, MLS, WHL and an NHL franchise, not enough population + fan dollars to have a sustainable fanbase, also the arena would need a major upgrade or just a new one altogether.

    Florida does not need two hockey teams, that's for sure. A panther can move west and become a puma or cougar very easily, don't even have to redo the jersey all that much.

    So Cal can definitely handle 3 franchises, as far as I know, they're all quite sustainable and have decent teams putting on a decent on ice product.

    Here's hoping Seattle gets a team, we need another team in the west to push the whiny Canucks around.